Perhaps you’ve heard it said that we (in America) tend to rust out rather than wear out. How true! Seems we’ve become a nation of couch potatoes, and we’re paying a big price for our inactive lifestyles. Obesity is a major problem in the U.S., not just among adults. It’s a growing problem among kids, as well. And obesity is just one of the consequences of a lack of exercise.
But rather than harping on all the hazards of inactivity, I want to share with you some of the benefits of exercise. If you’re like me (and most other Americans) exercise probably isn’t at the top of your list of favorite things to do. But thinking about all the good things it does for my body is a real motivator for me. I hope it will be for you too.
Here’s a quick list of some of the things exercise can do for you (and there are lots more!):
• Helps with weight loss and/or weight management
• Boosts energy
• Helps prevent disease, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and cancer
• Improves mood and prevents depression
• Strengthens bones and muscles
• Reduces the risk of premature death
• Lowers cholesterol
• Improves cardiovascular health
• Promotes restful sleep
• Improves cognition and memory
OK. Maybe you’re convinced you need to get more active, but some of the following excuses have kept you from getting on the move. Things like: “I don’t have time,” or “the weather’s not conducive,” or “there’s no place to exercise around here,” or “I need expensive equipment and can’t afford it,” or “I’m just too tired!” or “In order to exercise I have to join a gym and that’s not convenient.” Believe me, I know all the excuses, and I’ve used them!
The truth of the matter is, unless you have a physical or health challenge that prevents you from exercising, there really is no excuse. (Be sure to check with your doctor to get the go-ahead before starting an exercise program.) No time? A 10- or 15-minute walk is better than none at all, and done a couple or more times a day, it can boost your health tremendously.
Is it raining or too cold? The problem isn’t the weather, it’s your clothing. Get some rain gear if it’s raining, and bundle up in warm layers if the weather is too cold. On hot summer days, wait till evening or get out early in the morning before the sun comes up to take your walk.
No place to go for exercise ? Nearly every community has a park or track where walkers can get their daily exercise. Or how about grabbing your tennis shoes and walking around the local mall? If all else fails, buy a walking DVD, and pop it into your DVD player or your computer at home. You don’t need a lot of space for that. (Weight Watchers Walking Kit is a great option! Order it on Amazon.com. Prevention Magazine also offers some great exercise DVDs.)
About that expensive equipment you think you need, it’s great if you can afford it and if you’ll actually use it, but it’s not necessary. A few weights, some exercise DVDs, and a good pair of athletic shoes are just great for starters. Joining a gym is nice, but a good walking program along with a good plan for stretching and toning along with strength training can keep you fit. Another great resource for exercise at home is http://www.sparkpeople.com. Try out their exercise videos and other handy tools for weight loss, and the best part is, it’s all free!
Last but not least, if you think you’re just too tired to exercise, do it anyway. Did you know that exercise actually gives you energy? Don’t believe me? Just try it. Not only will you feel better, you’ll sleep better too.
Well, that’s it for now. It’s a beautiful sunny afternoon and I’m off to the local park to—you guessed it—take a walk. Talk to you later!
The Wellness Lady