By Melissa McConnell, Acupuncturist

July is physical fitness month, and what a great time it is to be outside moving around, being physical, and of course, soaking up some free sunshine and Vitamin D.  I (for one) am always outside once the weather “breaks” – being physically active, for me includes ”hitting” the gym in the early AM hours to hiking and swimming to walking from my home in Mt. Airy to Chestnut Hill College and back.  I love walking back “up” Germantown Ave. from Northwestern Ave. to the “heart” of Chestnut Hill; conquering that hill invigorates me, makes me sweat and puts a smile on my face.

I don’t know about you, but I have been physically active for as long as I can remember; there really isn’t a time when I haven’t been active – being active is just who I am, and I’ve found that when I do not get a workout “in” I can become cranky.  I feel my best in the morning following my “workout,” – I feel strong, calm and energized and ready to take on the day – this is who I am, this is what works for me…Who are you?  What do you enjoy? Are you physically active?  What makes you feel strong and energized? And most importantly, what activity puts a smile on your face?

Here is a list of common benefits of being physically active:

  1. Reduces stress and boosts your body’s natural “happy” chemicals
  2. Helps to improve self-confidence
  3. Aids in relieving anxiety and depression
  4. Promotes weight loss & assists in maintaining a healthy weight
  5. Improves sleep
  6. Improves heart, lung and muscular fitness
  7. Helps prevent osteoporosis
  8. Improves muscular strength, endurance, flexibility & coordination
  9. Great opportunity to be outdoors and enjoy nature
  10. Spend quality time with family & friends

AND BONUS # 11. Become an inspiration to others!

As we all know, exercise is beneficial at any age and all ages, but is most important for those entering their fourth decade of life, when muscular strength, endurance, flexibility and balance begin to decrease, as reported by Dr. Pamela Peeke (physician & fitness expert).  Experts recommend at least 30 to 45 minutes a day, each day, of physical activity as a general rule.  One of the easiest and most cost-effective exercises you can perform is to simply walk.  If you are interested in losing a specific amount of weight or achieve specific fitness goal(s), you may benefit from hiring a personal trainer for a few sessions.  A personal trainer will take the time to develop an exercise program, that is tailor made for you, and guide you through the exercises to ensure you are exercising correctly and in a safe manner.   And,  please remember to check with your physician before starting a new exercise program, especially if you have not exercised for a long time, or have been diagnosed with a chronic health problem or if you have any questions or concerns.