We’ve all heard it countless times before: we need to exercise more. It’s something we know we need to do, but it can be quite difficult to incorporate into our daily routines. Our modern lifestyles just don’t lend themselves to a lot of physical activity, and so we have to make extra efforts to include it. In this series, I’d like to explain the many benefits of exercise and give some practical tips for how to incorporate it into your own life.
Usually when people talk about the benefits of exercise, they do so in nebulous terms that don’t really convey the true impact of activity on overall health. They talk about how it reduces your risk of heart disease, makes you stronger, etc., etc. I don’t know about you, but for me, that doesn’t really communicate a whole lot. I did a bit of research and found some statistics on the American College of Sports Medicine website. I love the philosophy of the ACSM. They view exercise as something that’s vital to the treatment of all disease, and have actually developed a specialty training program to teach personal trainers how to prescribe exercise individually based on each patient’s current state of health. They estimate that regular physical activity does the following:
- Reduces the risk of heart disease by 40%
- Lowers the risk of stroke by 27%
- Reduces the incidence of diabetes by almost 60%
- Reduces the incidence of high blood pressure by almost 50%
- Can reduce mortality and the risk of recurrent breast cancer by almost 50%
- Can lower the risk of colon cancer by more than 60%
- Can reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by one-third.
Anytime I can do one thing and improve my health on so many different levels, I’m all about it. I need simplicity in my life, and I don’t want to have to follow a different set of guidelines to prevent heart disease, breast cancer, diabetes, and stroke. Exercise won’t solve all your problems, but it will certainly improve your health significantly.
So why aren’t we talking about this more?? If there was a new drug that could decrease your risk of all these chronic diseases by this much, you better believe it would be front page news. I think part of the reason why we don’t talk about exercise more is that people are intimidated by it, they think it means sweating it out at the gym every night or getting up at the crack of dawn to go running. I’m here to tell you, it doesn’t. There are lots of ways to incorporate physical activity into your life in ways that you enjoy. If you can find a way to exercise that you actually look forward to, it’s much more sustainable.
In the coming posts we’ll talk more about the benefits of exercise, and how its easier than you might think to get an exercise routine going. For today, go out and enjoy the sun this memorial day weekend with something you really enjoy, whether its swimming, biking, running after the kids at the beach, or any other physical activity. Your body will thank you.