We’re all about great smiles here at Appel Orthodontics, and we want to give you every opportunity to show that smile off.

So here’s something to consider: studies show that people who get regular exercise deal with stress better, get better sleep, have stronger immune systems to fight off sickness, and generally feel better all around. In other words, staying active is a good way to smile more!

The key is to find an exercise you really enjoy. Hate running? Then don’t train for a 5k. You’ll be stressed out and chances are you’ll quit anyway.

Instead, find something you really enjoy—you’ll be far more likely to stick with it. Moderate activity is three thousand times better than a really ambitious exercise plan that you never get around to doing!

Here are some ideas for ways you can stay active and love it:

Join a team

Do you like the adrenaline rush that comes from a really competitive sports match? You might enjoy team sports like basketball, soccer, volleyball, etc. Organized team sports have a lot of great benefits:

  • Learning to work with a team
  • Motivation & discipline (you may be more likely to practice and eat right if you know your team is counting on you!)
  • Regularly scheduled exercise through practices and games
  • Building friendships and shared experiences with others

We know that some of these sports don’t start until the spring, but it’s good to start thinking about it now!

Compete against yourself

If you don’t like team competition (and don’t sweat it, it’s not for everyone!) then there are still sports you can enjoy. Sports like swimming, golf, and track & field can challenge you to compete against yourself. You’ll learn to push yourself at your own pace in order to get a faster time or a better score than last time. Plus, you’re building skills that you can enjoy for years to come.

Fun workouts

Maybe when you hear the word “workout” you think of an endless repetition of boring push-ups, squats and crunches. But a good exercise session doesn’t have to be a killjoy—it can actually be a lot of fun. Dancing, bicycling, swimming, doing martial arts, or even jumping on a trampoline are all great ways to get your heart pumping and build strength.

You may be able to take classes at your local gym, or you can work out at home. You may even want to borrow instructional videos from the library or through Internet streaming. There are also some dance or exercise games for the Wii, Xbox Kinect and other consoles that can give you a solid workout.

Or if you just want to dance around the room to your iPod, that’s great exercise too. We won’t judge you!
Again, the key is that you have fun—that’s the best way to stick with it!

Walking

Walking is not only good exercise, but it can give your mind time to think and refocus. You might want to get into the habit of taking a daily walk at the park or around your neighborhood (extra points for walking your dog!). Or, if it’s safe and practical, consider walking instead of driving to near destinations like school or the store.

You can get a pedometer, a small device you clip to your belt that tracks how many steps you take each day. You can then set goals to reach (10,000 is often a recommended goal, but you can adjust it to your needs.)

Things that don’t feel like exercise

There are definite benefits to exercise programs or sports. But even just moving around is good exercise (and it’s far better for you than just sitting on the couch in front of the TV!). Here are some things you can do to stay active without necessarily breaking a sweat:

  • Playing catch or tag with younger siblings
  • Skating or skateboarding
  • Vacuuming or other housework (plus you might get brownie points from your parents!)
  • Getting outdoors—hiking, exploring, volunteering, even just walking along the beach
  • Planting a garden—not only do you get exercise, but you get the emotional benefits of being close to nature and helping things grow. Even if you only have a little patio, you can make a little garden with planters or clay pots.

We hope you find a way to stay active that you love. Building good health habits now will help keep you smiling for years to come!

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