Three Tips to Starting Your Fitness Journey

Sleep Computer Key Shows Insomnia Or Sleeping Disorders OnlineCollege of DuPage Nursing Student Zoe M. Ericson-Staton wrote for Healthy Lombard that it is still the first third of the new year, but somehow there are many people who have fallen off their New Year’s Resolutions. People typically have resolutions of getting fit or living a healthier lifestyle, but just don’t know where to start. Inevitably this is one reason many individuals give up on their resolutions. When considering how to remain committed to a resolution like a fitness journey, it is important to remember how to make it fun. Enjoying participation in exercise and not letting the fear of being judged get in the way is important to integrating exercise into one’s lifestyle.

Sleep

When considering how to incorporate a healthier lifestyle, sleep may not be as much of a priority for many as diet and exercise. Sleep is, however, a key factor to health and fitness. These two hormones in the body, leptin, and ghrelin that control hunger and a feeling of fullness (Hagen, 2016). Leptin acts as a “hunger-suppressing” hormone and Ghrelin is a “hunger creating” hormone. According to the Mayo Clinic author, Philip T Hagen, (2016) “ghrelin is at its peak when you are low on sleep” (Hagen, 2016). Therefore, when low on sleep, one is more likely to feel like eating during the morning or late at night, or feel like snacking continuously throughout the day before feeling satisfied, due to the higher levels of ghrelin. This may subside once sleep is caught up. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC 2017) recommends at least 7 hours of sleep per night for adults between 18 and 60 years of age. Obviously, on some nights it is difficult to get enough sleep, but 7 hours of sleep a night will help to curb cravings that are caused by increased ghrelin levels.

 

Exercise

When beginning a fitness journey, exercise is essential. Whether it be walking, running, or weight training, it is important to find a fun, enjoyable activity that is sustainable. The CDC (2020) recommends adults engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity (PA), or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity PA, or an equivalent combination on a weekly basis. Weight training is also beneficial for bone strength to prevent osteoporosis, improve thinking skills, and build muscle which results in an increased metabolism (fat burning) (Mayo Clinic, 2019, Strength Training). Structuring workouts and types of exercise depend on what is considered fun, as well as personal goals. Perhaps most important, however, is determining which activities are enjoyable, so they can be sustained over a long period of time. In the long run (no pun intended), consistency inactivity is key to long-term health.

 

Caloric Needs

Nowadays, TV and social media ads promote the feasibility of losing belly fat, or 15 pounds in a week. In reality, this is an extremely unreliable and unrealistic claim, as the only way to lose weight is through a caloric deficit which means more calories are expended than consumed. Various online resources exist to calculate daily caloric requirements for the purpose of body maintenance, such as the Mayo Clinic, ‘Calorie Calculator’. This resource takes into account the factors of height, weight, gender, age, and activity level to determine the estimated daily calorie requirements in order to maintain the desired weight. Once personal goals are identified, the calorie intake may be determined using this calculator. For example, to lose a certain number of pounds, begin with an approximate number of calories per day and subtract 300 from this value. By consuming this quantity in calories, the weight will likely decrease. Conversely, to gain weight, start with the same value and add 300 calories to it as a way to gradually meet the goal (CDC, 2021). Food is important when considering health and especially fitness since it is necessary for daily energy requirements in addition to essential nutrients.

 

Conclusion

Fitness can be enjoyable by engaging in activities that are fun and also improve overall health. Deliberate decisions such as planning favorite workouts, dance, yoga, running, weightlifting, swimming, or others, which are seemingly endless, will provide benefits to health nearly immediately. The most important step is to begin. Food provides not only fuel but essential nutrients when the right types are selected. Lastly, adequate quantities of sleep are necessary to provide the body with time to recover from the daily activities, and the strength to get up the next morning and do it all over again.

 

References

Balancing food and activity for healthy weight. (2021, January 28). Retrieved February 09, 2021, from https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/calories/index.html

Calorie calculator. (n.d.). Retrieved February 09, 2021, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/weight-loss/in-depth/calorie-calculator/itt-20402304

CDC – how much sleep Do I Need? – sleep and sleep disorders. (2017, March 02). Retrieved February 09, 2021, from https://www.cdc.gov/sleep/about_sleep/how_much_sleep.html

Philip T. Hagen, M. (2016, December 30). Sleep: The healthy habit that promotes weight loss. Retrieved February 09, 2021, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/sleep-promotes-weight-loss/art-20270122

Strength training: Get stronger, leaner, healthier. (2019, February 23). Retrieved February 09, 2021, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/strength-training/art-20046670

Walking. (2020, September 17). Retrieved February 09, 2021, from https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/walking/index.htm

 

 

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