The beginning of a new year is not only a time to reflect on the past twelve months but also a time to contemplate changes that we would like to make in the upcoming year. With a rekindled sense of purpose that often accompanies a new year, lifestyle changes such as improving a diet and beginning an exercise program often top the list of resolutions. Along with a nutrient rich diet, exercise is absolutely necessary for health. The list of benefits associated with a consistent exercise program is long and the rewards are enormous. Exercise has been shown to:
- reduce the risk of heart disease
- lower blood pressure
- reduce the risk of some cancers
- help achieve and maintain a healthy weight
- improve mood
- increase energy
- enhance sleep
- improve arthritis
- reduce the risk of osteoporosis
- reduce the risk of diabetes
- increase longevity
Even with the considerable benefits exercise offers, it remains one of the most commonly broken resolutions with people finding it difficult to maintain over time. One common reason is that the diet portion is often overlooked or its importance underestimated. Exercise is as important as a good diet but implementing them together is what creates optimum results. Although expecting to experience an enhanced immune system, better moods, more energy and a better night’s sleep, many people can experience the opposite when implementing a new fitness routine.
Physical exercise without a carefully planned diet can cause fatigue along with physical and mental stress. An exercise program can be extremely difficult to maintain without first exploring and developing a sound nutrition program. Not only does the body use its energy stores of carbohydrates, fats and proteins during physical activity; it also uses up stores of vitamins, minerals and water. Exercising a poorly fed body can damage muscles, increase fatigue and can even cause stress on the immune system resulting in higher than average colds and flu.
All fitness programs must first start with whole, unprocessed, nutrient rich foods. A diet high in phytonutrients (plant nutrients), complex carbohydrates, lean protein and essential fats will allow you to recover from your workouts faster, create a strong immune system, increase your energy levels and stay motivated. Reaching your fitness and wellness goals will not only help you to look and feel better but will ensure that you have many more years to spend celebrating with family and friends.