If your New Year’s resolution to exercise is long forgotten, you have a new reason to give it another try. In addition to its many other benefits, working out builds a healthy heart and a stronger cardiovascular system. Physical activity is an essential part of increasing your life expectancy.

For Laborers, that’s good news. Chances are your job gives you plenty of physical exercise. Eight hours of manual labor can burn hundreds of calories while also building muscles. If your job is less intensive, recreational activities can improve your health as well. While gyms provide a wide range of exercise choices, you can go beyond running the treadmill. Incorporate more walking in your day by parking farther away from the jobsite, taking the stairs instead of the elevator or taking a walk at lunch time. Get together with friends or family for a friendly game of volleyball. An hour of play is plenty of time to get your heart pumping, which causes better circulation.

One of the beneficial aspects of exercise is its ability to help reduce stress. When you are overwhelmed and overworked, it takes a toll on your body. Changes to your environment and problems at home or at work are examples of stress-producing situations. Pushing your body to the point of exhaustion every day can also build stress. While a moderate level of stress is normal, too much stress for too long can manifest itself in several ways. According to WebMD, “if left unmanaged, stress can lead to emotional, psychological, and even physical problems, including coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, chest pains, or irregular heartbeats.”

Exercise releases chemicals called endorphins that make you feel good. It reduces your stress levels while lowering your blood pressure. You’ll sleep better and get rid of excessive weight. Plus, the endurance and strength that you build will make you productive on worksites that require heavy labor. Thirty minutes a day of aerobic exercise, such as jogging or walking, is all you need to look and feel your best.

Always consult your doctor before beginning a new exercise regimen. The LHSFNA has online resources to get you started including Strengthening the ‘Core’ and Exercise: A Healthy Habit to Maintain All Winter Also, order the following fitness publications through the online catalogue: Becoming Physically Active, Build a Better Body, Spring Training (DVD) and more.

[Jennifer E. Jones]