Spring is upon us, promising longer days, warmer weather, and a feeling of freshness and growth. It is the time when we start to squeeze out of jumpers and coats and see the winter plumpness with disdain. It is a perfect time to take that move to committing to being more active again.
Exercise is a word that for many invokes a sense of dread and ‘it’s not for me’. The fact is that exercise takes effort and the pain of committing to that effort is too much for many to get going. For those of you who need persuading, let’s look at the balance of what’s in it for you.
The downsides of exercise usually come down to making time to exercise, being prepared to work hard enough at it for it to do any good and feeling comfortable in an exercise environment with others. If we are honest with ourselves, we generally have quite a bit of time to sit in front of the TV. Just three shows less a week would make a difference, so lack of time is an excuse, not real, especially when you know the shows will be repeated anyway. You can of course choose to exercise on your own, if you feel awkward about exercising with others. So that just leaves the effort you put into it, which I will leave you to ponder on after I tell you about the consequences of not exercising.
So ‘what’s in it for me’ if I don’t exercise? Take a good look around next time you go shopping, obesity seems to be an epidemic. Around 50% of over 65’s are already on a cocktail of five or more drugs as GP’s try to fight off health problems. Their task is going to get a whole lot tougher when the next generation hits retirement age.
When we slouch in our chairs, watching TV, we don’t breathe correctly causing less lung capacity, lower oxygen intake, poorer blood flow, a weaker heart and less nutrient delivery. Muscles will contract to take up slack and blood pressure will rise. The reduced blood flow cannot sustain sudden movements any more, leading to dizziness and the increased risk of accidents.
The gut slows and digestion fails. Sugar metabolism struggles and diabetes is more likely to take hold. Men’s sexual potency falls. Bones get weaker making fracture more likely.
This list doesn’t make good reading does it? The pain coming your way if you don’t exercise is most probably going to make the effort to exercise look insignificant.
Exercise is vital for healthy aging. Whether you are 40 or 80, regular exercise will help you stay physically and mentally healthy and improve your life. It is widely acknowledged that a healthy body equals a healthy mind. A recent study suggests that intense physical activity may offer greater benefits for brain function in later life than less intense, but regular exercise. The researchers found a gradual increase in memory scores with higher intensity exercise.
If you are new to exercising, start with a few minutes a day, a small start puts you well on your way toward longer periods of exercise. Walking is a wonderful way to start exercising.
Exercise doesn’t have to mean you have to endure lengthy intense programs or take on a gym membership, although I think the discipline of going and the social angle is great.
If you are exercising on your own, you still need to add in working out with weights as well as aerobic exercise such as walking.
Your bones are remodelled throughout your life and they respond to stresses put on them by weight bearing activity. Space travel confirmed this when it was discovered that weightlessness prevented bone matrix repair and the bones thinned.
In the same way, running, cycling, and swimming are not enough to reverse osteoporotic changes. A one year study of mature ladies doing aerobic exercise only, without any weight bearing activity, showed an average 4% bone loss. This may not sound much, but it took two years of weight building exercises to reverse it. That’s why both the American College of Sports Medicine and the Osteoporotic Society insist on the prescription of aerobic exercise to include weights.
A word of caution. Exercise is an integral part of keeping healthy muscles and bones, however don’t push through bad pain whilst exercising, as all you will do is create chronic tissue damage. If you have an injury or are suffering arthritis, then exercise alone is not a worthy substitute and never will be for hands on treatments such as physiotherapy combined with modern technology, so visit us first.
Springtime is about new beginnings and inspirations. Spread the word about the benefits of safe, enjoyable exercise.