Friday, April 13, 2007

How to feel like a million

Fitness by Connie Aronson

Want to feel like million dollars? Consider these four facts:

- Fact No. 1: You don't have to be serious to be healthy.

When was the last time you danced, and really felt happy? You probably didn't stop and think that you were lowering your blood pressure and improving insulin sensitivity. You were laughing too much. Whether you try a Latin fusion dance class, busting out your old hula-hoop, or just cranking up your favorite CD on your home stereo, your emotional health improves after even one single workout.

Whether it's the social opportunities in a group setting like an exercise class, private time with an exercise video, or a run—being diverted from day-to-day problems is an important psychological benefit of exercise.

- Fact No. 2: You will sleep, you will sleep, you will sleep.

Regular exercise not only helps you relax, but helps you with something vital to health, which is getting enough sleep. Sleep helps your immune system regroup and fight better, and gives your heart a chance to pump easier.

Allen Hobson, director of Harvard Medical School's neurophysiology lab, has research to suggest sleep loss not only ages you, but might predispose you to getting diseases you are not predisposed to. A well rested body and mind exudes energy, so snooze away. You're doing yourself a huge favor.

- Fact No. 3: Exercise and your self-esteem.

In a national survey of 12,000 youths in grades seven through 12, the ones who were skating, skateboarding, and biking were less likely to have sex, smoke, get drunk, drive drunk, not wear seat belts or have low self-esteem. Other research of 23 studies and 1,820 children shows that students who engaged in vigorous activity had better grades and showed that exercise had a positive effect on their self-esteem, a precious commodity for teens.

The positive effects carry over to college women, who all felt better and had improved body image with weight training. The benefits continue to extend into adulthood through our golden years.

- Fact No. 4: Bust the Down-in-the-dumps.

Exercise is better than drugs to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. Research shows that exercise can be a good alternative for post-partum women reluctant to use antidepressants. These women who exercise have more energy, are more relaxed, and feel better about themselves.

"Endorphins have the same pain killing mechanism as morphine," explained Michael Bracko, Sports physiologist and director at the Institute for Hockey Research in Calgary. This state of euphoria caused by receptors binding on the brain, is the "runner's high," or he quips, the "12,000 step program," and results in a great emotional change. Regular exercise is a sure-fire way to feel like a million.


Connie Aronson is an American College of Sports Medicine certified health and fitness instructor, ACE Gold certified and an IDEA Elite personal trainer. Her practice is located in Ketchum.

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