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improve_your_fitness-_no_gym_requiredJust this past weekend I was hiking with some friends and we got on the subject of rock climbing. Rock climbing is one of my all-time favorite sports. It’s so much fun, pushes you to your limits, gets the adrenaline pumping, and you can enjoy it with your friends . . . not to mention you can achieve some pretty great views from the top! I also can’t help but appreciate what a good workout it is ─ especially considering I never even realize I am exercising.

With so many great activities that get your blood pumping, it is astonishing to me that less than 5% of adults in the US participate in 30 minutes of physical activity each day1 and only one in three adults receive the recommended amount of physical activity each week.2 This is pretty sad considering the incredible benefits of getting your body moving.

One of the main culprits may be that people think they have to do an official “workout” instead of simply being “physically active.” For many, riding your bike through the neighborhood trail, playing Frisbee with the family, or taking the dog on a walk is much more inviting than buying a gym membership and clocking hours on the treadmill. 

I want to share five reasons why you should be physically active and twenty ways that you can meet the recommendation of getting at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity each week ─ without even realizing you’re working out. 

 

5 Reasons WHY You Should Be Physically Active:

 

1. Improve Cardiovascular Health & Reduce Risk of Disease 

Being physically active can improve your cholesterol. It has been shown to not only lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and total cholesterol levels, but also increase your high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. This improves overall cardiovascular health. The health benefits don’t stop there; physical activity can also reduce your risk of metabolic syndrome, diabetes, osteoporosis as well as some cancers.

2. Get More Energy and Enjoy Better Sleep

Working out can not only improve your energy through increased endurance and heightened oxygen and nutrient delivery, it also can also help you sleep better. A good night’s rest is related to decreased risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and high blood pressure. Sleep also allows for your body to heal and can improve your brain function and emotional well-being.

3. Improve Mental Health and Reduce Stress

If you’re feeling down, stressed, anxious, or suffering from low self-esteem, physical activity may be just what you need. Exercise has been shown to work wonders on your your mood through production of endorphins. Even as little as five minutes of a blood pumping workout can improve stress levels.

4. Better Weight Control

Consistent exercise is also linked to better body weight control. Many Americans struggle with their weight and cutting back on their favorite foods. What they don’t realize is that it is a balance of not only food intake, but also calorie output — or energy burning activities. Incorporating some calorie-crushing activities in your day means you can enjoy more of your favorite (preferably healthy) foods. It also means you’re increasing your metabolism by building muscle. Being physically active has also been shown to help control appetite and make you more conscious of what you are putting into your body.

5. Enjoy More Social Activities

Physical activity can make you more social. You can meet new people or have a fun activity to do with friends or family by enjoying time together learning or improving new sports.

 

20_fun_ways_to_be_active

Here Are 20 Fun Ideas to Fit Your Aerobic Activity In:


1. Rock climbing
2. Racquetball
3. Downhill or cross country skiing
4. Community softball league
5. Tennis or badminton
6. Walking the dog briskly
7. Hiking or snowshoeing in the winter
8. Rollerblading
9. Kickboxing
10. Line dancing or ballroom dancing
11. Gardening
12. Water aerobics
13. Golf
14. Ultimate Frisbee
15. Swimming
16. Wakeboarding or water skiing
17. Clogging
18. Stand up paddle boarding (I want to try this!)
19. Mountain biking
20. Canoeing or kayaking

What are your favorite ways to work physical activity into your schedule?

Balance physical activity with good nutrition for optimum health. Whole grains help.

 

Get Our Guide to Whole Grains

 

Read more about active lifestyles and reasons to be physically active in these posts:

 

References:

1. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010. Available here.

2. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Healthy People 2010. Available here

Image Credits: Images in grid (aside from rock climbing) licensed via Canva

Hi, I am Melissa! I’m a Registered, Licensed Dietitian and I have been the Nutrition Specialist for Great Harvest since December of 2010. I got my start in nutrition at Colorado State University where I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Food Science with a focus in Dietetics. I went on to graduate from the Dietetic Internship Program at the Baptist Health System in San Antonio and then work as a Medical Nutrition Specialist in Houston. My love of the outdoors and the opportunity to work at one of Outside Magazine’s Top 100 Best Places to Work brought me to Montana and Great Harvest. My favorite part of my job is being able to work with an amazing group of fun and intellectual individuals who are passionate about making healthy eating a delicious experience while giving back to communities across the country.