There are many people who are exercise-adverse. They do not like to exercise. And they object to having to do any exercise. They just want to focus on diet and weight loss.
So, just why is exercise good for you? Why should a person carve out precious time to exercise? Before we answer that question, let’s review how to start fitness for absolute beginners:
Fitness for Absolute Beginners Where to Start Summary
Last week we summarized the steps to take for an absolute beginner in fitness as follows:
1. Establish a regular meal pattern of 3 meals and one snack every day.
2. Eat Real Food (not processed.)
3. Such as vegetables, whole grains, legumes, protein, fruit, nuts and seeds.
4. Instead of ‘dieting’ and ‘restricting’, ‘Crowd out’ junk food by focusing on real food.
5. Exercise at least 30 minutes a day, five times a week.
If you implement these 5 simple suggestions, you might be surprised three months from now when you are over 20 pounds lighter and feeling better than ever!
Today, we will focus on the 5th step, to exercise at least 30 minutes a day, 5 times a week, to get you moving in the right direction.
Why focus on exercise first?
The rationale of focusing on exercise first is to shift the mindset of the eternal dieter.
The diet mentality says that if you just drink this shake or eat this type of food, then you will lose weight.
Or, if you just restrict another type of food, then you can take off the pounds.
So, some people say that in order to lose weight, you must limit carbohydrates.
Others say the opposite, eat plenty of carbohydrates but limit fats.
There is an obsession with the question “what do I eat?”.
As mentioned in our summary above, eat real food and establish a regular meal pattern.
This is the foundation of healthy eating, real food at regular times.
We will expand on nutrition in future articles.
However, you are interested in fitness.
And fitness is not just about losing weight.
5 Components of Fitness
The National Academy of Sports Medicine((https://nasm.org)) defines physical fitness as follows:
- Cardiorespiratory fitness
- Body composition
- Muscle strength
- Muscle endurance
As you can see, the definition of fitness goes beyond weight loss.
If you lose weight, but still cannot walk a brisk mile, you are lacking in fitness.
When your knees, hips or other joints are still aching, weight loss alone is not the answer.
If much of your weight loss comes from your muscles and not your fat, you are really losing valuable body tissue.
You always want to retain as much muscle as possible.
Your muscles power your movement and ability to function in the normal activities of daily living.
You never want to lose weight by losing muscle tissue, therefore, you need to be aware of your body composition.
Losing weight and having no improvement in muscle strength, endurance or flexibility is still not optimal.
A pain-free range of motion, with increased muscular strength and endurance, is possible to attain with a progressive training plan.
Let’s define some of the common terms to help us understand the key benefits of exercise.
The reason we want to do this is to answer the question, why is exercise good for you?
Activities of Daily Living aka ADL:
The things we normally do in daily living including any daily activities that we perform for self-care, work, homemaking and leisure.
Physical activity that is planned, structured, repetitive and progressive, for the purpose of conditioning any part of the body.
A state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not just the absence of disease or weakness.
The ability to carry out daily activities with vigor and alertness without undue fatigue and ample energy to enjoy leisure-time pursuits and meet unforeseen emergency.((President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports))
Weight loss alone will not help us improve our fitness.
Of course, achieving your ideal weight is an important milestone.
But, in order to remove the hyperfocus on scale weight, we want to focus on fitness.
To achieve better fitness, you need more than a diet, you need new habits and lifestyle modification.
Getting into the exercise habit is an excellent start to a new lifestyle.
Fitness is a journey, and you need at least 21 days to make a new habit take hold.
So, make a commitment to yourself, for you and your family and friends, to stick to your new exercise habit for at least a month.
After a month, if you have been consistently exercising for 30 minutes, 5 times a week, I am confident that you will not want to stop.
You will be feeling too good by that point, and what a great habit to have.
Why is Exercise Good for You, Especially Today?
In the old days, when the world was an agricultural society, everyone moved.
People had to move in order to get from one place to the other.
We had to walk or run.
Most work was manual labor.
No one had to ‘exercise’ in order to get movement into their daily life.
The notion of going to a gym in the 1950s was specifically for bodybuilders, powerlifters and Olympic athletes.
Take a look at average people from the early 1900s and you will see that they were not overweight.
No bulging waistlines there.
Today, 3 out of 4 adults over the age of 20 are either overweight or obese.
Our society has gone from one that moves to one that sits.
So, what is wrong with sitting?
The term “Sitting Disease” has been coined by the scientific community and is commonly used when referring to metabolic syndrome and the ill-effects of an overly sedentary lifestyle.
However, the medical community does not recognize Sitting Disease as a diagnosable disease at this time.((https://juststand.org))
What the Research Says:
- “For people who sit most of the day, their risk of heart attack is about the same as smoking” ~ Martha Grogan, cardiologist, Mayo Clinic
- “Today, our bodies are breaking down from obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, and depression. This is the cascade of health ills and everyday malaise that come from what scientists have named sitting disease.” ~ James Levine, MD, PhD
- “We’ve become so sedentary that 30 minutes a day at the gym may not counteract the detrimental effects of 8, 9 or 10 hours of sitting.”~ Genevieve Healy, PhD
More Benefits of Exercise
If reducing your sedentary lifestyle and adding years to your life is not enough, here are some more reasons why exercise is good for you:
- Exercise reduces the risk of getting cardiovascular disease, as well as improving your cardiovascular health.
- Exercise benefits the health of your heart, blood vessels, and the ability to use oxygen.
- Reduces body fat.
- Increases balance, coordination, and flexibility.
- It makes you more functional and increases your ability to perform daily activities.
- Increases your bone mineral density.
- Your basal metabolic rate increases as well.
- It lowers your blood pressure and heart rate.
- It improves your insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance.
- (Because active muscles are more sensitive to insulin.)
- Reduces your risk of injury, disease, and osteoporosis.
- It lowers your risk of sarcopenia, age-related muscle loss.
- Exercise reduces depression, enhances well-being, self-confidence, and self-esteem.
You are Engineered to Move
The bottom line is that your body is engineered to move.
Your skeletal muscles are designed to move your skeleton.
By activating your muscles, you are only helping yourself.
And you are the only one who can do exercise.
So, getting into the habit of exercise is all up to you.
If there was a pill that could result in all of the benefits of exercise, everyone would take it.
But, I Hate Exercising, I want to Sit More!
For the exercise-averse, my suggestion is to take it one day at a time.
The 2008 National Recommendations for Health suggest a minimum of 2 hours and 30 minutes a week of moderate-intensity exercise.
Therefore, if you can prod yourself to start walking a few minutes a day, you are on the way.
Build that few minutes up to 30 minutes.
Walk to the grocery instead of driving.
Instead of getting a lift home from the train, take a brisk walk.
Walk to or from the bus stop instead of taking your car.
Once you start to see and feel the benefits of your daily exercise, you will not want to give it up.
In our next installment, we will explore several types of cardiovascular training which will ramp up your weight loss and fitness even faster.
Now you know why exercise is good for you, it is one of the best things you can do for your health & fitness.
There are many benefits, but at the minimum, after reading the above, you should know that even standing every day, is better than sitting!
Can you add more input as to why exercise is good for you?
What has been your experience?