Beyond Benefits: Why Regular Exercise is Worth the Investment

I don’t have enough time. I’m too tired. I have kids. I’m too old. I’m too fat. I don’t like getting sweaty and I hate being sore.

I’ll take “EXCUSES TO NOT EXERCISE” for $1000, Alex. Maybe you’re not one of those people who just loves exercising. Maybe you commiserate with one (or all) of the excuses above. You’ve heard that regular exercise is good for your health and for preventing serious illness, but it doesn’t seem to get you motivated. Or maybe you are staying consistent with exercise, but you’re not sure what benefits there are to it. Or maybe you just love blog posts and you’ll keep reading anyway. Let’s discuss each of the excuses listed above and see if we can find a positive outlook on exercise!

Time is running out. Some feel that the immediate payout for the time investment is just not there. Binge watching Netflix for one day will not earn you the diagnosis of Heart Disease or Type 2 Diabetes, but as creatures of habit, lacking exercise one day will make it easier to not exercise tomorrow, and exponentially so the longer we go without exercising. The way I like to see it is that your heart only has *so many* beats in a life time, and a person who exercises regularly has a lower resting heart rate. Their heart rate doesn’t spike as easily with daily activities (going up and down stairs?) But if your heart beats half as many times per minute, how many more minutes could you add to your life by decreasing your resting heart rate? The heart is a muscle to be trained like any other muscle and it responds to training in the same way: it gets stronger. “I don’t have enough time.” Anything worth having takes an investment. Often, if you want to make more money, you must invest a little money to start earning. If you want to have more time (a longer life), you must invest a little time. It’s that simple.

The energy crisis. By the end of a busy day, it can be daunting to find enough energy to exercise. But exercise actually boosts your energy levels! Check out last month’s blog post for information on how to get started.

The parenting paradox. Those adorable little time-suckers…they take so much time and energy, but somehow it’s totally worth it! But the demands of this world already limit the time we have with the kids, so how could we possibly set aside more “me time”? I’m going to take a different approach with this one. Did you know that, according to the American Heart Association, 1 in 3 American children is overweight or obese? Issues like high blood pressure, high cholesterol and even Type 2 Diabetes, which were previously only seen in adults, are now the primary health concern for children! What if you could prevent this? Of course, the typical American diet does not help, but regular exercise helps improve insulin sensitivity, decreasing the likelihood of developing insulin-dependent diabetes. Get your kids moving and be the example for them. Kids enjoy exercising with their parents, but sometimes you need to get creative! Try a few moves to get your kids involved in your exercise and increase your chances of building their own love for exercise! If you need some ideas on where to start, send me an email and we can brainstorm together.

Exercise and the elderly. If you legitimately think you’re “too old” to exercise, what an inaccurate assessment! An active lifestyle benefits people of all ages. The benefits of exercising, specifically for the elderly, include: improved flexibility and mobility, improved tolerance to activities of daily living, improved ability to care for oneself or to care for a loved one, improved bone density, improved balance to prevent falls. Frankly, Scarlet, you are too old to not exercise!

“But I’m too fat!” How can you eat an elephant? (You’ve heard this one before, haven’t you?) Set some bite-sized goals! And if you stay consistent, you will meet your goal ultimately. If you really think you’re “too fat” to exercise, are you able to walk? Take a walk, long enough to be difficult and to elevate your heart-rate. Start where you are physically, without judgement of yourself. Take three walks each week, trying to walk a little further each week. Or try swimming for low impact exercise, or just walking in waist-level water to exercise with less weight on your joints. Trust me, your heart rate will elevate to a beneficial zone and your body will respond! Regular exercise will ultimately help you achieve your weight loss goal and will improve your life in the process.

Ew, sweaty! Ok, sweating isn’t enjoyable. But did you know there are health benefits to sweating? Sweat is one of the quickest methods our bodies use to get rid of toxins. The kidneys can take up to 24 hours to remove toxins from the body, so logically sweating can actually decrease the workload for our kidneys and, according to the American Urological Association, it decreases the risk of kidney stones!

Delayed onset muscle soreness. The soreness we experience after exercise is an indication that muscle fibers have been damaged, which triggers the body to heal them. This ultimately results in greater strength! Exercise-induced muscle soreness is always worst at the beginning of an exercise regimen. Many people fail to endure this initial muscle soreness, despite the fact that the intensity of muscle soreness inevitably decreases with consistent, regular exercise, ironically ensuring that the next time they exercise they will be extremely sore. One way to decrease the intensity of muscle soreness with exercise is to ease into your exercise routine. But ultimately, you will likely have to bite to bullet for the first week and expect some muscle soreness, knowing it will get a little better with consistency.

What if it hurts to exercise? Another protest some people have is that their joints hurt when they exercise. If that is your reason for not capitalizing on all the benefits of regular exercise, you may benefit from a Physical Therapy evaluation. Avoiding exercise because your knee hurts, for example, will only make your knee pain worse! So, make an appointment and we will figure out the cause of your pain and get you back in the “running” for overall better health!

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kate Youngblood is a Physical Therapist Assistant specializing in functional mobility and strength. This blog is an extension of her writing promoting health and wellness in every aspect of life. Contact her at kate@streamlinesportspt.com or through Facebook to receive clean recipes by following this link.kate running Beyond Benefits: Why Regular Exercise is Worth the Investment

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