Samui Wining & Dining
Gym’ll Fix It

Keeping fit will make you happier, release more sex hormones and see you well into old age.

20We all know that exercise has many benefits. That it provides both physical and emotional rewards. That it can reduce blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Therefore decreasing the risk of stroke, heart disease, and diabetes. And that, emotionally, exercising can give an improved sense of well-being; increased emotional stamina; and improved sleeping patterns.

But exercise will only become a habit if it’s fun. So be sure to choose something you enjoy doing as your means of getting, and staying, fit. Don’t start jogging if you know it will bore you to tears. And you don’t have to be an athlete, anyone can exercise. Even social activities, like dancing or walking around the shops (all you ladies will be pleased to hear) are good exercise, as are more recognised activities such as cycling and swimming. Regular exercise increases the body’s metabolic rate which can eat up the calories, even after you’ve finished your activity, which is why it’s such a great way of losing weight.

Low and moderate intensity exercises will help you stay fit and healthy. For example, minimal regular activity, such as three, ten-minute walks a day can reduce your risk of death from disease by an incredible 60%.

And we’ve all heard the keep-fit fanatics going on about the feel-good factor of exercising. But don’t dismiss their euphoric proclamations as madness. They’re telling the truth. It isn’t a myth, but a scientific fact that your brain releases chemicals called endorphins when you exert yourself. And they’re what make you feel happier. Endorphins have pain-relieving properties similar to morphine. But, besides this, they’re also connected to physiological processes, such as: feelings of exhilaration, appetite modulation, and here’s the interesting one – the release of sex hormones! Exercising increases production and release of endorphins. And therefore creates the sense of euphoria that’s commonly called – ‘runner's high’.

Ageing is associated with many downsides: fatigue; weakness; a decrease in physical and mental health and well-being; the onset of diseases through low levels of immunity; loss of self-esteem; and an increase in depression and anxiety. But the most preventative and therapeutic thing to impact on these age-related changes is, yes, you’ve guessed it – exercise.

It’s well-recognized that many physical and psychological conditions that commonly occur during ageing can be prevented or delayed by regular exercise. And it’s also been linked to the prevention of some cancers, as well as reduced risk of heart disease, hypertension, osteoporosis, obesity, type II diabetes, osteoarthritis and abnormal cholesterol. Additionally, exercise is associated with effective stress management; fewer sleep disorders; enlightened mental outlook; reduced loneliness; and lowered depression and anxiety.

For overall health benefits, some form of aerobic activity is highly recommended. And one of the many gyms or fitness centres, such as the ones at Centara Grand Beach Resort Samui and World’s Gym, will provide programmes and equipment to cater for this. But you can also support this training by taking the hotel stairs rather than the lift; parking at the far end of the car park at Tesco Lotus instead of trying to find a spot 2 metres from the entrance; doing your own housework or gardening; and by walking the dog (borrow one if you don’t have one yourself!).

Linking exercise to improved health is no coincidence. An inactive lifestyle is a predisposition to disability, early death, and a depreciated quality of life. In fact, the combination of a lack of physical activity and a badly balanced diet is the second greatest underlying cause of death in the US; second only to smoking.

No one is too old or too out-of-shape to exercise. And to maintain the right balance of physical activities, for now and in the future, you should aim to do at least 30 minutes of an activity every day that makes you breathe harder than normal. This is called endurance activity because it builds your energy and staying power. As a guide to how hard you should push yourself, one doctor stated, “If you can talk without any trouble at all while you’re exercising, you’re not working hard enough. If you can’t talk at all, it’s too hard.”

Keep using your muscles. If they aren’t used, they’ll waste away, it’s as simple as that. And that applies to younger adults as well as the elderly. Keeping your muscles in shape can help prevent the problem of falling in older age. If leg and hip muscles that support you are strong, you’re less likely to fall and suffer broken bones.

To aid this further, do things that help your balance. For example, stand on one foot, then the other. Stand up from sitting in a chair without using your hands or arms. And, every now and then, walk heel-to-toe.

And, finally, stretch. Stretching can help keep you flexible and allow you to move more freely. But, never stretch so far that it hurts. These basics can benefit you now and in the years to come.

Almost anyone, at any age, can improve their health by doing some form of exercise. But it’s advisable to check with your doctor first if you plan strenuous activity. Start slowly and build up your activities. Doing too much, too soon can hurt, especially if you’ve been inactive for a long time. But, generally, exercise shouldn’t hurt or make you feel excessively tired. You may feel some soreness, discomfort and weariness for some time after. But you shouldn’t feel pain.

And, in addition to all this, researchers now believe that physical exercise not only slows the effects of ageing, but it also helps people maintain cognitive abilities well into old age. And the more you increase your level of fitness training, the more some mental processes will improve.

So, if after all that you still don’t feel motivated to get out there and start exercising, then there’s no hope for you (or maybe your brain, as well as your muscle, is just wasting away). But, for all of you who do want a happier and healthier life, exercise really is the way forward. And fortunately, here on Samui, the shops and the natural terrain, together with the choice of top quality fitness facilities available provide you with an endless supply of opportunities to expand your personal level of exercise. And therefore 2010 could be the year that the ‘gym’ll fix it’ for you, to be fitter, healthier, happier and smarter for the rest of your life.  


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