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There are many reasons to start a fitness or nutrition program. The most popular we hear about are losing weight or feeling better about ourselves in terms of body confidence. But what about reducing certain health risks associated with an unhealthy lifestyle? For some of us, myself included, it's often the internal benefits of healthy living that tend to be the most important goals. One area in specific that living healthy can have a positive impact is your heart health. There are some schools of thought that believe we are given a set number of heartbeats for a lifetime and we know when we're stressed and unhealthy our resting heart rate is actually increased, so if in fact we only have a certain amount of heartbeats then we are actually shortening our lifespans when we waste time being stressed. The flip side of the coin is when your heart is very strong it has to beat less times per minute, thus you're actually adding years to your life. I bring this up because we've been focusing on women's health and body image this month and I’ve been sharing some personal stories with you and now I have another important one I want to share with you.

Like everyone else, I am not immune to stress and to periods of inactivity due to things going on in my personal and professional life. Truthfully I am just coming out of one of those periods and I was a little bit concerned. I've been wearing a Fitbit for the last 2 years to track my average heart rate, sleep cycle and other lifestyle metrics and recently I noticed that my resting heart rate was much more elevated than I would expect for somebody my age and fitness level. I concluded it was this way from a combination of what I believed to be stress and lack of sleep and just generally going through a phase of inactivity. Yes, I was actually “too busy” to work out on a regular basis. The result of this was I had a resting heart rate of almost 80 beats per minute. One of the major benefits of having an activity tracker like a Fitbit, is you get real data. In my case, there was no hiding from the fact that I wasn't getting my activity in, wasn’t getting my steps in and my heart rate was way too high. So last month I made a commitment to undertake a short 21-day challenge with some friends.

Knowing myself, I made sure to get my workouts in by doing them first thing in the morning so that I couldn’t end up using the “too busy” excuse later. If you know me then you know I'm not a morning person so this is a big sacrifice for me, but I knew I needed it because I wasn't feeling healthy. So I did it. I set my alarm early, I planned ahead, I had the workout set for me so all that was left to do was to just do it.  Some workouts were as short as 12 minutes and others were as long as 25 or 30 minutes but they worked enough for me to exercise my muscles, restart my metabolism and get my heart pumping for a good reason first thing in the morning.

In addition to the obvious benefits of losing a couple inches and pounds, I noticed a couple amazing non scale victories. My morning workouts woke me up enough that I didn't need as much coffee or as much time to get my brain moving in the morning. I was also gaining more confidence as the workouts got easier and easier over time. This improved my mood and my ability to handle some of the normal stress throughout my busy week. But the biggest improvement was measured by my Fitbit. By committing to this challenge, I got my heart rate jumpstarted every morning, which helped strengthen my heart while reducing my stress and brought my resting heart rate from 79/80 beats per minute down to 66/67 beats per minute, which is a respectable range.

I was shocked when I noticed the difference. Apart from feeling and looking better, I had actual data that I was making a positive impact on my health and made me feel even better about committing to doing this. All in all, I just want to encourage anyone who is feeling stressed, feeling stuck in a rut or feeling unhealthy that small, simple commitments like quick morning exercises can have a huge impact on your internal health.  I’m not saying that working out in the morning is the key, but consistency IS the key and there is no time like the present to give yourself the means to take better care of yourself. If it's true that we only get a set number of heartbeats, then they are something worth protecting and worth investing in. At the end of the day it's such a small commitment to make, but the impact can be great. No equipment needed. Just a little nudge and a small amount of time. It’s important to take this to heart (no pun intended): stress and an inactive lifestyle can really be taking a toll on your internal health even if you think you are fairly healthy. So commit to more daily activity in any shape or form you can.

If you’re interested in seeing how reFORM can help you make a change by taking us up on a free fitness and health consultation,  click here! 

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