A positive body image comes from feeling strong and healthy. Conventional wisdom as well as research evidence tells us that the best way of getting fit and healthy and feeling good about our bodies is with regular exercise. That means exercise you do routinely several times a week, every week and not just when the mood takes you!
Build regular exercise into your life. Don’t be seduced by your inner lazy exercise phobic who might tell you, ‘Relax, you can always exercise another day’.
A wise yoga teacher once said, ‘We can all easily find a reason not to exercise. It’s being disciplined in your exercise that’s challenging.’
Take up the challenge today if you want a more healthy and positive body image.
As we all know, exercise effectively helps burn up calories by speeding up the body’s metabolic rate for some time afterwards. This is especially true of vigorous or aerobic exercise. Generally speaking, the gentler the exercise, the less it is an aid to slimming. However, even gentle exercise burns up some calories, and is marvelous for toning the body.
Exercise is also important for keeping fit your organs and bones. With regular exercise, the risk of coronary heart disease is reduced, your heart and lungs are given a good workout, your muscles are toned and your bones are kept healthy. In women, exercise helps to prevent osteoporosis (thinning of the bones).
Think of exercise as an antidote to the ill- effects that afflict many of us who sit at desks all day and eat larger-than-needed lunches.
An added bonus of exercise is the wonderful outlet it provides us for the frustrations that build up during the day. It helps us release tension and enables us to relax.
Here’s an exercise to get you to be more mindful of your exercise routine.
Complete the following (mental) exercise regarding your (physical) exercise awareness:
Directions: Think back over the past two weeks.
Consider your responses. Is it time to get up and exercise? If so – go on! Do something about it today!
Remember, the golden rule is to begin gently. Don’t plunge into a sudden regime of vigorous exercise. If you’ve never exercised before, or rarely, then you build up slowly over several months. It may be wise to have a medical check-up with your physician before beginning your exercise program.
George Lesmes, Director of the Center for Exercise and Cardiovascular Research at Northeastern Illinois University recommends sustained exercise as the fastest way to get from ‘fat to fit’. He said, ‘You need to find a comfortable workout level that allows you to constantly move your muscles for at least thirty minutes. That will burn fat.’
Yoga is a classical Indian science dealing with the whole person. Yoga philosophy was born some 2,000 years ago, and today, yoga is considered a wholistic art form by its many practitioners. Yoga offers body shaping with graceful postures and an integration of body and mind and spirit through breathing, relaxation and meditation.
Many people discover yoga and are drawn in by its youth-giving potential. Practising yoga is youth-giving because it stimulates your circulatory, endocrine and nervous systems, it relaxes your mind and eases your tension.
Correct breathing is fundamental to all yoga practices. Most of us don’t breathe properly. In yoga, all breathing is done through the nostrils and your lungs are completely filled and emptied. You must be mentally aware of the fullness and slowness of your breathing. As you inhale, allow your stomach to expand and this lowers the diaphragm and brings air to the bottom of your lungs. When you exhale, draw in your stomach so that your diaphragm lifts and your ribs relax.
Yoga shapes you and makes you more graceful. Yoga brings you energy, flexibility and suppleness.
Recent research shows that by the time people reach their forties, 75% of us are sedentary, and that this has the same effect on health as smoking a packet of cigarettes a day. Dr. James Rippe, one of the world’s leading experts on the role of exercise in preventing disease, and a Professor of Medicine at the Tufts University School of Medicine in Massachusetts, has said: ‘In the past two years, more than 200 international studies have shown that exercise is the closest thing we have to a magical elixir.’ Dr. Rippe believes that being active five or six days a week will give you a healthy life and add years to your life.
It’s never too late to get into shape. But the most important thing is to get to know your own unique capacity. Learn to listen to your body. Go along with its tempo – and never get ahead of yourself. Always exercise according to your capabilities and work up gradually to a higher level of fitness. Everybody is capable of getting into better condition. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day – and neither is your fitness. If you’re exercising in the hope of losing weight – then the golden rule is ‘be patient’. Initially, your weight loss may not be where you want it to be – arms, thighs and hips. But, if you persist with your exercise regimen then you will lose weight all over your body.
So get moving – and increase your metabolic rate for up to six hours after your exercise is completed. Exercise can compensate for the decrease in metabolic rate which generally occurs with dieting alone and increasing age.
So if you want to move towards a truly positive body image, become mindful of food habits and your fitness regime. Mindfulness regarding what you eat and how and when you eat it is important to your health. Your health and fitness regime should concentrate on the essentials:
Mindfulness about how you exercise, how you motivate yourself and how you can sustain an exercise regime over a life-time helps create a healthy and positive body image.