As much of the country emerges from dreary, cold, winter months, now is a great time to begin exercising more regularly and enjoying the spring warmth. Studies have shown that regular aerobic exercise, such as walking, jogging, biking, gardening and swimming, reduces the risks of early mortality by 30-35%. Exercise can help individuals avoid risks associated with the most common chronic conditions in the U.S., including heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and pulmonary disease. Along with physiological benefits for heart health, respiratory function, weight management and more, the benefits of exercise on mental and social health have been well documented. Regular exercise increases blood circulation to the brain and, in turn, improves mood and helps to reduce risks related to depression and anxiety.
As you’re able, exercising outdoors can be especially beneficial. Vitamin D is not readily available in most foods, so the value of spending time outside or regularly taking a supplement cannot be understated. Studies have shown the many benefits of vitamin D, including better absorption of other vital nutrients and minerals such as calcium and phosphorous. This is especially important for post-menopausal women and others who may be prone to osteoporosis. Plus, vitamin D can reduce cancer cell growth. Just make sure to wear your sunscreen!
Invite your friends!
Exercise also provides great social opportunities. Going on a walk with a friend or volunteering at a community garden are wonderful ways to feel more involved in your community, spend time with loved ones, and strengthen your physical and mental health alike.
Regardless of your activity level in the past, get outside more often in the coming months, and try out a few different forms of exercise to see what’s best for you. Enjoying the time you spend moving is crucial to creating healthy habits that you can maintain for a lifetime of wellness.