And it's not what you think.
I am still surprised each time I meet someone who does not exercise - I mean NO exercise, absolutely NONE! Sure, I enjoy exercise and it is a large part of my job so of course I exercise more than the average person. But, to get absolutely NO exercise!? I just don't get it. I guess there are people who just don't know how and possibly there are a few people in this world who truly don't have time, yet this still does not explain the large number of people who do no exercise.
What is even more difficult for me to understand are those who tell me "I know I need to start exercising but. . .". So, these people actually know they need to exercise, but refuse to do it. Why? Well, I think I have heard all of the excuse out there, yet I am never surprised when I hear a new one. I know - you are too busy, it hurts your back, you don't enjoy it, you don't like to sweat, or you work hard all day and just want to relax when you get home. Or one of the hundreds of other reasons I have heard.
Honestly, I have yet to hear an excuse that is any thing other than just an excuse.
I can refute them all with fact and scientific evidence, but no one wants to hear that and I won't bore you with that right now (though watch for an upcoming post about your excuses).
The fact is, you NEED to exercise!
Sure, many begin an exercise program to lose weight. They have great intentions, may have purchased a program or hired a trainer, and are certain they are going to stick with it this time. But a large percentage of these people give up too soon. Some actually reach their weight loss goal and, satisfied with their results, let their exercise program slowly get replaced by other things.
Honestly, exercise helps improve your metabolism, reduce fat, and increase your fitness level. It is an important part of a weight-loss program. However, no amount of exercise is going to make up for a poor diet or poor choices. So, though you might think I am going to talk about exercise and weight loss, there are many more important reasons why you need to exercise.
When I first started training, much of my learning materials focused on helping the client find their "Why" to help to keep them motivated throughout their program. For some, the "why" might be a short-term goal such as running a marathon; others the "why" might be weight loss; and others just want to "tone" up.
These "whys" are all terrific and offer the motivation to reach a goal. Yet I have found only those who tell me their "Why" is that they want to stay (or get) healthy so they can enjoy life are truly committed to exercising. Yes, they mess up, miss days, and sit on the beach all day while on vacation. But they come back, get on track, and keep moving forward. Why? They understand that exercise is a necessary component of good health.
Maybe you are feeling OK with just a few aches and pains that are part of getting older; maybe you just need one prescription because your blood pressure is a little high; and maybe that "just in case" prescription to relieve the back pain or help you sleep. You don't exercise and you are just fine. Medication can be quite helpful for treating the symptoms of many diseases but very few offer a cure. Medication might, for instance, help slow the rate of bone loss but could at the same time be increasing your risk for heart disease.
But don't worry, you are just fine!
If you want to live your life better than the illusion you are creating for yourself, you need to start exercising. Here are some reasons why:
Bone Density - Exercise plays an important role in maintaining and improving bone density and thereby lessening the risk for osteoporosis. Strong bones reduce the risk of fracture. Four hours of exercise per week has been shown to reduce the risk of hip fracture by more 40% in older women. Considering the fact that 1 in 3 women over the age of 50 will experience osteoporotic fracture, it seems 4 hours per week of exercise is time well-spent. Those who suffer from osteoporosis can reduce or even reverse the rate of bone loss through exercise.
Strength - Use it or lose it. So true. Remember when you could easily move the furniture around to vacuum behind or carry the groceries up the stairs without huffing and puffing. Nope, that is not just part of getting older, it is part of getting weaker. Our bodies are constantly changing and, truly, if you are not getting stronger you are getting weaker. We don't just stay as strong as we were last year, last month or last week. You are changing - it's up to you to decide how you are going to manage the changes. To maintain your strength, you need to exercise.
Sarcopenia - Beginning sometime around the 4th decade of life, individuals begin to lose a modest amount of muscle mass and this loss accelerates as we age. This loss of muscle mass correlates with a loss of strength, possibly leading to frailty in older age. No big deal - that is still a few decades away. But sarcopenia may be impacting you now.
According to the Aging in Motion website, possible effects of sarcopenia include decreased muscle strength, problems with mobility, frailty, weak bones (osteoporosis), falls and fractures, decreased activity levels, diabetes, middle‐age weight gain and a loss of physical function and independence.
There are a few factors that contribute to sarcopenia including insulin resistance, nutritional deficiencies, and a sedentary lifestyle. Currently, few interventions have been effective to combat this loss of muscle mass. But exercise has a positive impact. To reduce your risk of sarcopenia, you need to exercise.
Recent evidence suggests physical activity and exercise, in particular resistance training, as effective intervention strategies to slow down sarcopenia (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4269146/).
Cardiovascular Disease - Two important, controllable risk factors for developing cardiovascular disease include a poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle. Cardiovascular disease includes a variety of disorders that can increase your risk of heart attack and/or stroke. Either of these events can dramatically change your life or could even end your life.
Those who survive a heart attack/stroke face months of therapy, a daily regimen of medications that have plenty of side effects, and days, weeks, or even months on relying on others for help. Some recover almost completely; others are not so lucky. Significant damage to the heart or brain may be irreversible. Physical and emotional challenges can include fatigue, loss of strength and endurance, anxiety, depression, and continual fear that you will experience another event.
Exercise can help lower blood pressure, improve circulation, and increase your HDL (good) cholesterol level. To maintain a healthy cardiovascular system, you need to exercise.
Made to Move - our bodies are made up of 206 bones, over 600 muscles, abundant connective tissue, and a magnificent system of nerves that keeps everything working together. We were born to move and quickly transition from crawling to walking. Our bodies are designed to move in an upright position and our feet, legs, hips, and spine are efficiently work together to form our foundation.
Our bones are strong, our spine is relatively rigid (though still quite flexible) and able to bear a great deal of force, and our muscles contract and relax systematically to allow our joints to move, our bodies to perform tasks, and to brace our spine.
Our bodies are created to move. Our bones remain strong when they bear weight; our muscles stay strong when they are forced to work; our cardiovascular system remains strong when it is pushed to function at a higher capacity; and are joints remain lubricated through movement.
Without exercise bones can weaken, muscles atrophy, the cardiovascular system labors, and the joints become still and painful. Your body is made to move - you need to exercise to maintain your body's capabilities.
Exercise like your life depends on it; because if you really want to live your best life, it does!
Most people know they need to start exercising, but often equate it solely with weight-loss. In fact, there are many more reasons you need to start exercising than the few I have covered.
Revisit your Why. If good health, the ability to enjoy your favorite activities, and the freedom from an overload of pills, doctor's appointments and medical bills are important to you, then why aren't you exercising?
You NEED to exercise - For the Health of It!
Thanks so much for taking the time to read this post! I would love to hear your feedback. Please feel free to leave your thoughts and ideas in the comment box.
If you would like more information about exercise or strategies to improve your health, feel free to contact me at any time.
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Here's to a Better You!