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October 3, 2011

How to Feel Better, Starting Today

The Hood Answer Mom, Elizabeth M. Ward, M.S., R.D.

I'm a dietitian, not an exercise expert, but I am always on the hunt for ways to help people fit in physical activity because of its many health benefits, least of which is weight control.

A recent study from the University of Michigan makes me think I may not be doing such a good job "selling" exercise, however. Researchers found that among women, the most convincing message about exercise is one that emphasizes its immediate benefits, especially how it enhances your life on a daily basis.

You may be fully aware of the well-documented long-term perks of regular workouts, including a longer life and better overall health, but the benefits may be too far off in the future to motivate you to walk, bike, or swim today for the recommended 150 minutes a week. That's not surprising. 

When you're busy, instant gratification is important. But that's exactly the point of the University of Michigan study: exercise reduces stress and improves energy, during and after your work out. Researchers also note additional benefits that make exercise more personally meaningful, such as being a patient parent, enjoying life, being creative and having focus at work.

Sound good?

Here are some tips from MyPlate for Moms, How to Feed Yourself & Your Family Better  about how to work in more physical activity so that you feel better, starting today!

• Suit up: Just getting your work out gear on increases the chances that you'll get out the door to walk, ride, or bike, or drive to the gym to take a class.

• Choose activities you enjoy, not ones you think you should do.  If you're not sure what you like, try a class, like Zumba or Pilates.  If you find walking boring, take along your ipod to pass the time.

• Treat exercise like an important client or friend to keep it on the top of your To-Do list.

• If you lack get-up-and-go, enlist a friend or co-worker to exercise with.  Having others keep tabs on you makes it more difficult to skip days or cut corners. Exercise with a few friends, so if one can't make it, you always have someone to be active with.

• When you're pressed for time, try to work in three 10-minute blocks of physical activity a day instead of one, longer work out. 


Elizabeth M. Ward

Elizabeth M. Ward

Elizabeth M. Ward, M.S., R.D., is a writer, nutrition consultant, and mother of three. She is the author of several books, including MyPlate for Moms, How to Feed Yourself & Your Family Better and Expect the Best, Your Guide to Healthy Eating Before, During, & After Pregnancy . Ward is also a contributing writer for Muscle & Fitness Hers and Men's Fitness magazines.

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