By Cord Prettyman, MPT
In my thirty-two years as a certified personal trainer, I have heard every imaginable excuse for not exercising. The most common are “I’m too busy, too old, too sick, too overweight or it’s too boring.” I have even been told – “I stopped jogging because it made the olive jump out of my martini.” I have heard them all.
This article is for those of you who continually rationalize your way out of regular exercise and into a sedentary lifestyle thinking that the maladies and disease processes of couch potatoes only happen to other people. In the hopes of motivating you to make this the year you start and maintain a regular exercise program, here are my top ten reasons for exercising:
#10: Improved quality of life. Regular aerobic, strength and flexibility programs will improve your overall health, help you dodge or delay the diseases of aging, change your body composition, decrease your chronic pain and increase your physical capacity. How is that for a start?
#9: Enhanced sense of psychological well-being. A recent position statement by the International Society of Sport Psychology listed the psychological benefits of exercise to be improved self-confidence, relief of tension, positive mood changes, decreased feelings of depression and anxiety, favorable influence on premenstrual tension, increased alertness and energy, development of positive coping strategies and increased enjoyment of social contacts.
#8: Decrease in low-back pain. Several years of research on strength training and back pain conducted at the University of Florida have shown that strong low-back muscles are less prone to injury. Another study demonstrated that low-back patients had significantly less back pain after 10 weeks of strength exercises for the muscles of the lumbar spine.
#7: Glucose metabolism improves. A recent research study reported a 23-percent increase in glucose uptake at a cellular level after just four months of strength training. Poor glucose metabolism has a high correlation to adult-onset diabetes.
#6: Arthritic pain decreases. Tufts University reported that strength training can ease the pain of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
#5: Osteoporosis. Numerous clinical studies have shown that regular weight bearing exercises – like walking, jogging and weight-lifting – can not only reduce the loss of bone mass but in many cases reverse that process.
#4: Obesity. While physical activity is not the sole answer to the complex issue of obesity, it is a positive factor in raising the body’s metabolism, which encourages “fat burning.” A sensible balanced caloric intake and regular exercise are the keys to successful weight loss and maintenance.
#3: Heart disease. In non-COVID times, coronary heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. A recent review of more than 40 studies indicated that sedentary individuals have twice the risk of developing CHD as physically active people. Regular exercise has been proven to lower blood pressure and decrease cholesterol both of which are major players in heart disease.
#2: Longevity. A landmark study of 17,000 Harvard Alumni, who were followed over 16 years, showed that those individuals that expended at least 2,000 calories exercising on a weekly basis extended their life one to two years. The good news was that it only took a moderate amount of exercise to have a profound effect on the subjects’ health.
And the #1 reason to exercise is – I know where you live and if you don’t start an exercise program soon, I am moving in with you. And, if you don’t think that’s a miserable experience, just ask my wife.
If you have been sedentary or under a doctor’s care, consult with your primary physician prior to starting an exercise routine. And remember, the benefits of exercise are front-end loaded. A moderate effort yields the majority of benefits. Train smart.
Cord Prettyman is an IDEA Master Personal Trainer with 32-years of personal training experience, who works at the Montana Athletic Club in Bigfork, Montana. He can be reached at the club at 406-837-2582 or directly at 719-761-8592. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Website: www.cordprettyman.com.