Exercise 101: Why moving your body is so important

This article is sponsored by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, which has partnered with Qcitymetro since 2010. […]

This article is sponsored by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, which has partnered with Qcitymetro since 2010.


Ayesha Qureshi
Ayesha Qureshi, MPH

Starting a new exercise routine can be daunting, whether you are a beginner or restarting after a long gap. If you have decided to take up regular exercise, first congratulate yourself for making a wonderful decision for your health! One of the best things for your mind and body is doing some form of regular physical activity, at least 150 minutes a week.

Building up to a new routine is not hard but may be a trial-and-error process at first. You may find an elliptical machine more enjoyable than a treadmill, or running may be more satisfying to you than an aerobic dance class. Do you prefer to exercise in the morning or evenings? Would you rather workout at the gym or at home? Regardless of what exercise you are doing, the key to sticking with it is to find something you enjoy.

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To get most from your exercise routine, be sure to have a good mix of cardio and strength training. Cardiovascular exercise is what gets your heart rate up, like walking briskly, running, jumping jacks, riding a bike — anything that gets you up and moving. Strength training is what builds muscle and makes you stronger — lifting weighs, strength machines, resistance bands, or your own body weight, like pushups, squats, and lunges.

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Adding in exercises such as yoga and pilates are great for flexibility, strength, and endurance. Though both are different, each has its own benefits. Pilates focuses more on muscle toning, whereas yoga focuses more flexibility. There are many gyms and studios that offer classes for you try out.

Once you decide what you want to do, do not overlook the importance of a proper warm up and cool down. Exercising cold muscles, for example – going from sitting on the sofa to up and running — can cause injury. Warming up will get your body ready for exercise by increasing blood flow to the muscles. Afterwards, it is important to cool down, which means you are slowly bringing your heart rate down after a workout, and then properly stretching.

There are so many benefits to exercising. However it is very important to check with you doctor to see which are safe for you to do. Safety is key!

Once you do start your routine, you may be exhausted and have sore muscles at first, but as long as you keep it up, you will start to feel stronger and notice an improvement in mood.

You are on a wonderful road toward a healthy mind and body. From weight loss, to disease prevention, and feeling happy, exercise is one of the best ways to achieve all this. Keep it up and you will reap all the benefits regular exercise has to offer.