Movement Is Life Journey

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B. Become More Active to Break the Vicious Cycle

Being physically active can not only make you feel good about yourself, it can have a number of benefits for your overall well-being and health. The benefits come from making physical activity a permanent habit.

Let's learn more about Physical Activity.

girl exercising

Relieve stress. Exercise and other physical activities produce endorphins, which are chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers and stress reducers. This makes you feel good. Physical activity can also help you feel better about your appearance, which will improve your self-esteem and reduce your risk for depression.

Improve sleep. Regular physical activity improves sleep by affecting your circadian rhythms, or body clock. As little as 20 to 30 minutes of physical activity daily (not too close to bedtime) can help you sleep better.

Make you feel full of energy. When you're physically active, your heart and lungs receive more nutrients and oxygen to help them work better. When they work better, you feel less tired and have more energy.

You need only start with one or two types of physical activities. Begin where it feels manageable to you. If you're already physically active, add more activities that you know you can manage and stick with them.

Adding group dance activities can be very beneficial. The benefits of dancing go well beyond physical fitness. Dancing, especially group dance activities, provide opportunities for you to meet other people and become mentally engaged. The combination of music and movement is stimulating, relaxing, and pleasurable.

Setting activity goals with your family is good for you and them. Join the gym together. Take family walks. Schedule family fitness activities—such as bowling or biking. When the weather is bad, try indoor activity ideas such as jumping jacks or Simon Says. Consider investing in a pedometer or mobile app to verify your activity levels. Limit TV and video gaming.

Start a walking program. If you haven't been active recently, you may want to begin with the following.

Week Walk for:
1 5 minutes per day
2 7 minutes per day
3 9 minutes per day
4 11 minutes per day
5 13 minutes per day
6 15 minutes per day
7 20 minutes per day
8 23 minutes per day
9 26 minutes per day
10 28 minutes per day
11 30 minutes per day
mother and son walking
Woman in church pew

African-American women suggest most often that lack of time is a barrier to getting enough physical activity. If this is true for you, building movement into your everyday life is a much more organic or natural way to get physically active than formal exercise classes.

For some African Americans, church is the central core for social support. It is as important to take care of your physical self as well as your spiritual self. Through your church, family and social support network, you already have a built-in support system for becoming more physically active. As one example, dancing is a very effective physical activity that can bring individuals together to enjoy a common activity while at the same time promoting "movement." Take a leadership position and encourage others to join a "physical activity movement."

You can take steps today to promote healthy church culture.

There are little changes that can be implemented in church to get us moving toward health and wellness. Your church can become the center of cultural change in our community with:

  • Praise Dancing
  • Fitness Buddies
  • Walking Clubs
  • Health and Fitness Guest Speakers
  • Physical Activity Nights
  • Baked Only Pot Lucks
  • Healthy Recipe Exchanges (and Cookbooks)
hispanic family

Some studies suggest Hispanic/Latina women tend to have larger families than the general population. Family obligations and the resulting fatigue and lack of time can interfere with physical activity. Again, if this is true for you, building movement into your everyday life is a much more organic or natural way to get physically active than formal exercise classes.

The concept of placing yourself first may not be comfortable but is especially necessary when it involves your health and well-being. Make time to increase your activity level and movement. You will be surprised to see how much better you will feel.

It may come as a surprise to learn that group unity among Hispanic/Latina women is much stronger than in many other cultures. The power of the group can sustain positive changes for you. Start a walking group or meet to engage in physical activities like dancing or Zumba. If your close friends and family show little interest, you may need to help educate them on the importance of staying healthy and making time to take care of their physical well-being.

You're on your way to solving the puzzle and breaking the cycle. Now you know the importance of being physically active. If you would like to go back and follow choice A, please click here. If you are ready to move forward, let's take a look at the next piece of the puzzle by clicking on Obesity

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