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Trusted local news leader for Prescott area communities since 1882
12:52 AM Wed, Nov. 21st

No time like the present to exercise

You have seen them around town already - the walkers with color-matched tops and sneakers. You have seen the trailheads start to fill up with the hikers and their water bottles. It's exciting - but it can be intimidating. If you don't have a natural born love of exercise, then cultivate a new love. Because exercise is about more than just fitting into flattering clothes.

Regular physical activity improves mood, mental health and quality of life. According to a helpful handout from the Arizona Department of Health Services, people who have a serious mental illness experience better mental health and symptom relief when they are physically active. Similarly, older adults often reduce their depressive systems, risks of a fall, and physical limitations.

Regular physical activity can help you:

• Sleep better

• Improve mood and memory

• Reduce anxiety and depression

• Keep you sharp and strong as you age

• Decrease risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and other illnesses

• Reduce weight or maintain a healthy weight

• Improve your chances of living longer

If you are intimidated by the idea of buff people sweating in a gym, realize that you can do fun activities within your own comfort zone and still get the exercise you need.

So, what counts as physical activity?

• Two hours and 30 minutes every week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (ie, brisk walking, tennis, pushing the lawn mower, bicycling, swimming, hiking, house cleaning);

• Muscle-strengthening activities (ie, resistance bands, yoga, digging a garden, or lifting weights) on two or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms).

There is no time like the present - get off that couch and get moving, so you can reap both the physical and mental health benefits.

For more information, go to www.azdhs.gov/bhs/qhi.