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Guest Column: There are countless benefits to regular exercise

By Shannon Bordeaux

Shannon Bordeaux is a wife, mother, lover of God and all things fitness. She has been instructing group fitness classes at the Albert Lea Family Y for the last three years.

There are so many benefits to exercise. Your body needs it in ways that can be seen and unseen. One of the most obvious reasons people exercise is for weight loss. With increased activity comes increased calorie burn. As long as you are not putting in more calories than you are burning on a daily basis you should start to lose some weight. Another benefit that can be seen physically and something that goes along with losing weight is changes in your body. As you exercise you start to lose fat and gain muscle. This will eventually make your body look different. A body that is mostly muscle looks completely different than a body that is mostly fat, and as you exercise more and more, these changes will start to become evident as well.

According to medical professionals, exercise can help reduce stress, depression or anxiety. It can help prevent stroke, decrease your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes and help lower high blood pressure. Exercise has been shown to increase your energy level and make people happier. There are so many benefits to exercise, but it can be challenging for people to make the commitment and stick to a program. The list of excuses goes on and on. I’m too tired, I forgot my shoes, I’m busy, I’ll do it tomorrow, I can’t afford a gym membership, my kids are too little or are sick. The list is literally never ending, but I’m here to tell you that it is completely worth it to get rid of those excuses and get active.

I was never a very active person when I was younger. It wasn’t until I had my third baby that I needed to exercise to lose that baby weight. I had no clue what I was doing in the gym. All I knew was the elliptical. I would go into the gym, do my 30 minutes and leave. I lost the weight I was trying to lose and I felt it was good enough, so I quit and went back to my inactive lifestyle. I was tired all the time. It was exhausting thinking about how exhausted I was.

I eventually had enough. I got rid of my excuses, and I started forcing myself to go to the gym again. I would go every morning while my kids were still in bed. I started running for the first time in my life, and I went into the weight room and learned how to lift weights. And that was it. My body started craving the activity. On days when I couldn’t make it to the gym, I could literally feel the difference in my energy levels.

Fast forward seven years and one additional kid later, and I’m still working out every day. I had to start attending a different gym after my fourth child was born because I needed child care at that point in order to workout.

In that time, my body has completely changed. I have significantly more muscle mass and less fat than I did before working out. My energy levels are higher than they were before. And there is nothing like a good gym session to get rid of some stress in your life.

There are so many ways you can add exercise to your life. Start by adding activity in any way you can. Park farther away from the store entrance and walk. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Take a walk around all or part of Fountain Lake. Grab a friend and walk out at Blazing Star Trail. Find a couple workout videos on YouTube that you do every morning before work. Get a gym membership, and attend group fitness classes. Start keeping track of your progress and give yourself credit for the changes you make big or small. Stick to it, even when its hard. And it will almost certainly be hard when you first start. But that’s OK. Do it anyway. You won’t regret it in the end!