Get Moving!

May 5, 2011 at 9:30 am 1 comment

Exercise has been one of the ways I have been able to maintain my sanity through my first year of medical school. It helps me relax, process my thoughts, relieve stress, and get out nervous energy to allow me to sit still through long classes or study sessions. I stopped running because of the cold and snow during our winter neuroscience block, and my friends can attest that I was not a happy person to be around during that time. (And no, it wasn’t just the class subject that was bringing me down…) Exercise is a natural mood enhancer thanks to endorphins! Endorphins are your body’s natural happy pill, and have been shown to combat depression. (Looking at pictures of puppies may also help combat depression, but probably without the cardiovascular effects…) Exercise not only releases these little molecules, but also releases adrenaline, serotonin, and dopamine for an even bigger happy punch. As long as you get your heart rate up, you should get that feel-good endorphin feeling. According to this article, if you are new to exercise, you should feel an even bigger rush from the endorphins!

If the “runner’s high” isn’t enough reason for you to get out and get moving, maybe your health will persuade you. Exercise has more than just cardiovascular benefits. Sure, a good run will improve your endurance, lower your heart rate, help maintain a healthy blood pressure, blah blah blah, but did you know that it also helps prevent type II diabetes? (Nerd alert, don’t say you weren’t warned!) Exercise helps increase the glucose (a simple sugar) utilization by your muscles, which helps lower your blood sugar levels. This helps lower circulating insulin levels to possibly prevent, and maybe even reverse, insulin resistance, which is often seen in type II diabetes. Plus, it will help you loose weight by triggering your fat cells to break down their stored fat, which will further decrease your risk of diabetes. Heart health and lower risk of diabetes? Yes please!

As if you need more convincing at this point, remember that exercise will help create a negative energy balance, which helps you loose weight. It will also convert fat to muscle, which increases your basal metabolic rate, further increasing your daily energy expenditure. Here is a little comparison of calorie expenditure per mile and per hour of my three favorite activities (thanks to this tool). Remember that even though the cal/hour count is higher, your ability to sustain that activity might be lower. You might be able to walk for a full 3 miles, but only run one at the listed pace, and therefore walking would help you burn more calories.

BIKING: At 12 mph (a pretty sustainable pace), you expend 453 cal/hr, or 37.75 cal/mile on your bike. This hour is equivalent to about 2 Snickers bars or 2 cans of soda.

RUNNING: A 9 minute mile will burn about 93 cal/mi, or 623 cal/hr. This hour is equivalent to 8 glasses of wine (I’d be on the floor if I even thought of drinking that much!)

WALKING: A moderate, 3 mph pace will burn about 62.3 cal/mi, or 187 cal/hr. This hour is equivalent to about 2/3 of a grande whole-milk latte.

So, exercise makes you happy, healthy, and toned? I’m sold.

Now, as much as I love running and biking and getting a good work out, there are just some days that I still cannot convince myself to get out and get moving, even with all of the benefits that I know it will bring. I justify my laziness with a long day, a long week, bad weather, or any other number of even lamer excuses. More often than not, I will convince myself to get out for at least a 2 mile jog, and am usually more than happy that I did. Other days, I feel like I have been hit by a ton of bricks and simply can’t get out to run or bike. I think it is more important to love the time I spend doing these activities rather than forcing myself to complete them out of guilt, so I will occasionally allow myself to skip a little on my training schedule. I still have that extra nervous energy problem though, and have found that walking is key on these days. Walking is a great exercise option for anyone who has knee, back, or other joint problems, and can still be a great cardio work out if you push yourself! It is also a great alternative to meeting a friend for coffee or a meal or a snack – save yourself money and calories by taking a walk together instead. Walking can be great for alone time as well – I especially tend to focus my thoughts a little better when I am walking, and will often use long walks to pray or emotionally process the more difficult moments of my life.

(all images thanks to a Google search of stock photos)

No matter what you choose to do, love every minute of it. Whether it is walking, running, biking, weights, swimming, yoga, gardening, hiking, or any other activity, just get out and get moving! You will be glad you did!

Question: What is your favorite activity that gets you up and moving? What is one type of exercise you would like to try? Running is definitely my comfort zone and favorite way to break a sweat. I am just now incorporating more swimming and biking into my routine as part of my triathlon training. Biking for exercise and not merely transportation is still an interesting transition for me though… I also want to learn how to do yoga and incorporate some yoga poses into my stretching routine.


Entry filed under: Running. Tags: , , , , , , , , , .

Barley and Bean “Risotto” Learning to stretch as a runner

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Joy  |  May 6, 2011 at 6:46 am

    SOCCER!!!! (aka football) and other team sports. After college, such activities can be a little hard to find but the effort spent searching for them is definitely worth it. And if you play with the right people, at this stage of life, skill doesn’t matter :)


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