By Reina Hasting
For many, the new year comes with a list of resolutions. According to a recent poll conducted by the market research firm YouGov, the top three resolutions for 2018 were to save more money, eat healthier and get more exercise.
It wasn’t a surprise to see those at the top — especially exercise. This got me thinking about the reasons I still instruct dance fitness classes.
One day, a couple of early risers persuaded me to start teaching in the morning before work. It was a big change for me as I enjoyed sleeping in, but I liked the idea of getting exercise done for the day and getting a boost of energy to start the day too. I would say it took a good year for my body to completely adapt to instructing a fitness class at 6:30 a.m. If you would have asked me six years ago if I would be waking up at 5 a.m. to work out on a regular basis, I would have said no, but here I am and hope to continue doing it for as long as I can.
So what gets people to continue exercising? Reasons can vary for many, but the main reason for me is the effects of how one feels during and after class. No matter what stress or struggles are happening in life, it is all forgotten when instructing or attending a dance fitness class. I just live in the moment with a big smile and feel energized for the rest of the day and end up sleeping better too.
I thought it would be great to look into the mental health benefits side of exercise. Keep in mind the mental health benefits can also help motivate us to start exercising and keep going. Research shared by the American Psychological Association shows exercise:
· Releases “feel good” neurochemicals, which enhance our mood after moderate exercise.
· Helps sustain mental activity. Older adults who exercise showed sustainable levels of cerebral blood flow and better cognition.
· Helps combat depression and anxiety.
· Can help alleviate long-term depression.
· May prevent dementia-like illnesses. Older adults who exercised at least 15-30 minutes, three times a week, were less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, getting 30 minutes per day of walking can help boost your mood and reduce stress. Make sure to listen to your body; start out slow and increase activity over time. If you are not sure what level of activity to start with, check with your doctor first. You can find out more on physical activity at www.ChooseMyPlate.gov. Whether it’s marching in place for five minutes at a time to joining a fitness class, any activity is better than none. Taking in a daily dose of physical activity is affordable, and we can do it whenever we want, as long as we want and without worrying about the side effects.
The important thing is to find something you love to do because it makes it easier to become a habit. Don’t be afraid to try something new. If I had never tried a Zumba fitness class, I wouldn’t be here writing this article today. Happy new year!
Check out the following opportunities:
Your local university. UAF Community & Technical College offers over 40 one-credit recreational, semester-long classes and you don’t have to be in a degree program to register. You can check out its catalog at http://bit.ly/2DlnQBX. Jan. 26 is the deadline and you can register via UAOnline or in person at 604 Barnette St. or at the Registrar’s Office on the main campus.
· Your local Cooperative Extension office. It offers free StrongWomen classes to the community.
· Your local gyms and fitness instructors. Most offer the first facility visit or class for free.
The Tanana District Extension office in Fairbanks has a new location. It moved to the UAF University Park Building at 1000 University Ave. Stop by and check out the new office in Room 109. Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday with a 1 to 2 p.m. lunch closure.
Reina Hasting is a coordinator with Extension’s Family Nutrition Program, which is administered by the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. For questions, she can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 907-474-2437.