It is well known that everybody can benefit from exercise, yet very few of us ever engage in a regular routine. The majority of our jobs today don’t involve physical exercise; many of us are stuck with desk jobs, staring at computer screens 40 hours a week. Kids spend far too much time watching TV, playing video games, etc. …. all forms of entertainment designed to make the body lazy.
We must discipline ourselves to put aside 15 to 20 minutes a day, 3 or 4 times a week, for a variety of stretching, walking, lifting weights etc., to compensate for what our body is lacking throughout the week. The right combination of exercise and nutrition increases both muscle strength and energy. When your body is working more efficiently, your energy levels soar. Everyday things become much easier to do.
Gaining control of your body size and weight through fitness is a wonderful way to increase your self-esteem. You will look better and feel more confident, which will show in everything you do. You will also find that the self-discipline required through regular exercise will spill over into other areas of your life.
Exercising your mind is just as important. Research shows that regular exercise helps to keep the brain sharp, well into old age. Anything that involves mental activity (focus and concentration) is improved. You will stand a much better chance of avoiding diseases such as Alzheimer’s and senility.
Dr. Walter Bortz is quoted in the Journal of American Geriatrics Society, “There is no medicine that can help overcome the range of conditions for which exercise has been prescribed”. And here are some benefits of regular exercise that he is talking about:
- Reduce high blood pressure
- Help prevent heart and stroke disease
- Regulate your weight and control obesity
- Strengthen your back, therefore reducing back pains that so many of us suffer from getting a good night’s sleep
- Reduce stress, resulting in a feel-good lifestyle
A study carried out by the University of Hong Kong reports 20% of all deaths of people 35 and older were attributed to a lack of physical activity. That’s more deaths than can be attributed to smoking. The risk of dying from respiratory ailments was 92% higher for men and 75% higher for women due to a lack of exercise.
Physical activity gets everything moving in your body …. the blood, the oxygen, the nutrients, the cellular respiration, the nervous system, and so much more. Sweating is good for you as well …. you sweat out toxins and replace the lost liquids by drinking fresh, clean water. Physical exercise, if done outside, also exposes you to the healing effects of natural sunlight, an essential nutrient for the human body that is deficient in most people (vitamin D3).
Exercising should be fun, not something that you dread doing. For starters, choose an activity that you enjoy, like a nice walk in the evening, or leisurely bike ride. Find somebody to join you, exercising is always more fun in pairs or groups, and is more motivational also. This can lead to joining a gym or night classes at your local school. There are classes at most gyms that have been designed just for Seniors also.
Try to make changes to your everyday routines, wherever possible, that will allow for more exercise: here’s some suggestions.
- In an apartment, or at the shopping mall, take the stairs, walk to the corner convenience store, rather than driving all of the time
- Wash your car at home with a bucket and sponge
- Mow your lawn with a push or gas mower, rather than a riding mower
- Shovel your driveway in the winter, rather than using a snowblower
- Adding more exercise to your lifestyle is habit-forming.
For those guilty of watching too much TV; if you can’t cut back, try to incorporate exercise into your TV time. While sitting in your favourite recliner, use some small weights for a few arm curls. If you’re not able to lift heavy objects, a can of soup is a good substitute. Use commercial breaks as a time for stretching, jumping jacks, running on the spot, etc. Anything is better than sitting idle for 2 or 3 hours at a time!
Seniors: I have a senior friend, George, who just turned 91 recently. He walks to the YMCA 3 times a week for his Seniors’ exercise group and follows up with a swim in the pool. He also bowls twice a week. Now I realize not all 91 year olds are able to keep up with him, but I’m sure his dedication to exercise over the years has kept him young.
If you are older, perhaps confined to a wheelchair, ask your nurse or health care aide for some simple exercises that could benefit you. Pulling on opposite ends of a small tea towel, squeezing a soft sponge ball, little stretches that can be performed throughout the day are just a few examples.
We can’t use the excuse of lacking information; exercise and nutrition really do make a difference. Sometimes we just need a push – or reminder to do things …. exercise is one of them. You just have to learn to incorporate exercise into your lifestyle. If you normally wake up at 7:00 a.m., then get up at 6:40 a.m. If you can’t find a gym nearby, purchase some gym equipment for your rec room. “Those who think they have no time for bodily exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness”, (Edward Stanley)