Celebrate “Fit” – Not “Fat” Tuesday

Getting ready to celebrate Fat Tuesday, so named for the tradition of gorging on special rich foods before the fasting season of Lent?

This year, turn it into Fit Tuesday!

Did you know that physical exercise is perhaps the single most important thing you can do to keep your brain and body healthy over time?

Physical exercise not only boosts blood flow and other positive nutrients to the brain – it actually stimulates “neurogenesis,” the ability of the brain to generate new brain cells.

Exercise can do so much for your body that it’s kind of mind-boggling that anyone would choose not to exercise. Our bodies are designed for movement! Research has shown that the benefits of mild to moderate exercise include:

  • Improved cognitive abilities
  • Improved mood
  • Improved cardiovascular function
  • Lower levels of cortisol, the stress hormone
  • Higher levels of endorphins and other feel-good neurochemicals
  • Better oxygenation in your body’s cells, leading to increased energy and improved cellular health
  • Improved blood pressure
  • Higher rate of metabolism
  • Better sleep

So what are you waiting for? Just get started!

It is really important to find activities that you enjoy – biking, swimming, walking, hiking, aerobic classes, Cross-Fit, tennis, or dancing. Try something new!

If you have not been exercising regularly, begin slowly. Even if you commit to just walking to the end of the block and back every day, it’s a start. Then set a goal to increase the frequency and intensity of the physical exercise every week until you are exercising four to five times per week for at least 30 minutes.

For those short on time, interval training is recommended by the American College of Cardiology to be as effective as sustained aerobic exercise. Thirty minutes of cardio 5 days per week is equivalent to twenty minutes of interval training 3 days per week.

Interval training is basically 90 seconds of warm-up followed by a series of “bursts” of exercise – 30 seconds of going almost as fast as you can and then 90 seconds at a moderate pace. Repeat this 8 times with a 90-120 second cool down at the end. Interval training can be done with any form of exercise such as running, treadmill, elliptical, StairMaster, swimming, biking, and walking.

Check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program.