According to a recent study, one of the top three New Year’s resolutions for 2014 is to exercise more. Many of the benefits of regular exercise are well-known. Research has repeatedly shown that regular physical activity lowers blood pressure, enhances mood, helps achieve and maintain weight loss, and reduces the risk of many diseases. Naturally, many conscientious adults recognize these benefits and seek to take advantage of the natural momentum that is built into the start of a new year when beginning a fitness regimen.
If you are among the many folks who have made a fitness-oriented resolution this year (or you already exercise regularly) I commend you on this decision. In addition to reaping the traditional benefits of exercise, recent research indicates that you are taking a big step toward making positive changes in many areas or your life.
In his book, “The Power of Habit,” author Charles Duhigg cites studies from the past decade that show a wide range of non-traditional benefits of working out: “When people start habitually exercising, even as infrequently as once a week, they start changing other, unrelated patterns in their lives, often unknowingly. Typically, people who exercise start eating better and becoming more productive at work. They smoke less and show more patience with colleagues and family. They use their credit cards less frequently and say they feel less stressed. It’s not completely clear why. But for many people, exercise is a keystone habit that triggers widespread change.”
Clearly, even minimal exercise provides benefits far beyond looking trim or dropping a few pounds. And with literally hundreds of ways to exercise and millions of workouts available for free online (a Google Video search for “workouts” resulted in 72,900,000 results) it has never been easier to get started on the keystone habit of exercise.
P.S. If you are wondering if you need to check with a physician before beginning an exercise program, check out these guidelines from the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) here.
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