Serena Caner, registered dietician

Serena Caner, registered dietician

Column: Move it or lose it – the importance of exercise

Healthy Bites/Serena Caner

One of the most important habits in preventing and managing chronic disease is regular movement.

Most of us spend the majority of our day sitting down. Unable to get the exercise we need in daily living, we are forced to do structured “exercise” sessions if we want to get our hearts pumping.

Our cities are designed around cars and we no longer walk for transportation. We have invented machines to do our laundry, clear our snow, heat our houses.

Computer and television have become our main source of entertainment.

Even at our music festivals, like the Roots and Blues, we promote sitting.

For most people, inactivity starts in adulthood, when work and family responsibilities cut into free time. For others, an injury or chronic pain limits activity. Unfortunately, even if exercise is challenging, it is still necessary for good mental and physical health.

The older we get, the harder it is to move. The less we move, the harder it is to get moving.

Exercise has been shown to boost energy, control weight, reduce the risk of cardiac disease, diabetes and some cancers; improve mental health and mood, strengthen bones and muscles and maintain your ability to live independently. Better than any prescribed medication!

Sometimes the benefits are unexpected.

Related: Break out your bicycle

In studies on exercise and arthritic knee pain, regular activity was shown to decrease knee pain and increase range of motion, as exercise strengthened the muscles that support the arthritic joint.

For those who find it uncomfortable to walk, try swimming or other low-impact activities such as Tai Chi.

Today, we live in an environment where we do not get enough activity to maintain and promote health unless we are intentional about it.

We must seek out physical activity.

Have a dance party with your kids in the kitchen.

Walk around the indoor track during hockey practice.

Park your car three blocks away from work.

Plan a walking meeting.

Bring your laundry up from the basement one item at a time.

If you have difficulty finding motivation, find a friend or commit yourself to putting on your shoes and walking out the door.

You will be glad you did it.


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