Do you think of your body the way you think of your car? When a few lucky individuals acquire a sports car that boasts of the best automotive engineering available today, watch them read the maintenance manuals religiously.
They take their car for inspection even if it purrs like a kitten and take it for repairs as soon as something does not feel right. And they’re very concerned.
That car is their most prized possession, a symbol of all the long and hard hours they put on the job so they could finally acquire it. It cost an arm and a leg, so taking care of it is logically, their # 1 priority.
But how important is the person that drives that car? Shouldn’t that person – shouldn’t you – be the #1 priority?
Lifespan and Physical Appearance
The average life span of men and women is 80 years, give or take a few years. The painful truth is, a significant number of men and women look and feel 80 before they even make it to the first half of their life! You spot the tell-tale signs from their physical appearance:
sagging dry skin
uneven and unsteady walk (they need to drag around those heavy pounds)
sporting the “I’m not happy because I look terrible” look
Now, if their appearance is this bad, imagine what the inside machinery is like! Most likely, it’s even worse:
mounds of sugar and fat parked in or around vital organs
Conditions such as diabetes, nervous tension, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease that are silently brewing.
If fitness authorities had it their way, they’d create legislation to make exercise mandatory as soon as a baby leaves the cradle, not during the teenage years when obesity is likely to strike.
But fitness shouldn’t be associated with any age limit. You can start at 10 or at 30 – even at 50 and 60 – the idea being that fitness should not be seen as the cure for a condition that’s already come about. As the saying goes, don’t wait for illness to strike.
Assessing How Fit You Are
Brad King and Dr. Michael Schmidt in “Bio Age, Ten Steps to a Younger You” (Macmillan, Canada, 2001) have devised a questionnaire for assessing physical damage to a body as a result of no exercise. We will borrow some of their guidelines, which we will summarize here:
Start with the question, “How do I look?” Do any of these answers apply to you?
Am I overweight, looking like an apple or pear?
Do I have a spare tire around my waist?
Has my skin become excessively dry, almost paper-thin?
Next, ask: “How do I feel?”
Do my joints hurt before or after any physical exertion?
Am I constantly worried and anxious?
Do I feel tired and sluggish most of the time?
Do I suffer from mood swings?
Last question, “How am I doing?”
Are simple walking and climbing stairs difficult?
Do I have problems concentrating?
Is running impossible for me now?
Am I unable to sit straight, preferring to slouch or stoop my shoulders?
You’ve completed your basic assessment. Note, however, that other exercise or fitness gurus will have their own parameters or indices for assessing your body’s overall state and one isn’t better than the other.
As long as they include all dimensions of the self – physical, psychological and mental – they are as valid as the next person’s assessment charts.
Turning You into a Fitness Buff!
After going through the assessment phase, you’re probably experiencing what some people fondly call a “rude awakening”.
If you’re not mentally prepared to accept exercise, please don’t force yourself. Just be familiar with its benefits and when you’re wholeheartedly disposed towards giving it a crack in the can, proceed slowly. “Slowly but surely” is the exercise cult’s favorite slogan.
Slowly but Surely…
In fact “slowly but surely” was probably what motivated Denise Austin to come up with her popular one-minute exercises (more on this in a later section). She had two types of people in mind when she designed the one-minute movements:
2. People on the go.
It’s a quickie society we live in; we want everything quick – especially exercise! – and many converts would be willing to include it in their routine for the sake of health, if there were a quick way to get in, and certainly a quick to get out.
Benefits of Exercise
If you make exercise part of your day, Denise Austin believes you’ll already experience some noticeable benefits. These include:
Waking up in the morning feeling refreshed
Walking with a sprightly gait
Having energy left at the end of the day
Feeling more optimistic about recreation
Sleeping more soundly at night
MORE Benefits of Exercise!
The benefits above are general. Let’s examine the more specific benefits of exercise on specific parts of the human anatomy, as described by Goldberg and Elliot:
Exercise prevents heart disease!
The average ratio of total cholesterol to HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol) is about 4.5. If this ratio doubles or reaches 7, you double your chances of developing coronary heart disease. You reduce that risk by as much as 50% if your ratio is 3 or lower.
The lowdown on cholesterol: not all cholesterol is bad. You have the good one (HDL-1 and HDL-2), the not so bad one (VLDL) and the harmful one (LDL). To get your ratios, divide the total amount of your cholesterol by your amount of HDL. The lower the ratio you have, the better.
Exercise prevents osteoporosis!
Ponder the statistics: 28 million Americans have osteoporosis and of this number, 80% are women. Only 1/4 of this 80% know they have the condition and only half are being treated. The annual osteoporosis bill to the United States is $ 14 billion.
Studies have shown that sufficient amounts of calcium and regular exercise build strong bones. While genetics play a major role in developing the risks of osteoporosis, individuals can control some factors that will help prevent the problem.
Peak bone mass is attained in your 20’s. Starting an exercise program while still young, even if you live in the fast lane, will help you avoid this bone disease.
Exercise prevents diabetes!
People are still debating how much exercise an individual needs, but for people with type 2 diabetes, exercising three or more times a week improves fitness and blood sugar levels. If you have type 2 diabetes and are overweight, exercise done with the following parameters would be of tremendous benefit: intensity of 60%-70% maximal heart rate, with duration of 30 or more minutes, 4-7 days each week.
The above benefits are only a few of the many advantages that an exercise/fitness regimen will provide.
There have been hundreds of documented reports that reveal how people’s lives have significantly improved and the remarkable transformation that their bodies experience after they made the decision to take ownership of their weight and fat problems.
In fact, Diane Rinehart (former Toronto magazine editor and writer) wrote in the Montreal Gazette on December 12, 2005:
“What we’re hearing about…is waiting times in emergency and operating rooms for ailments such as hip replacements, heart surgery and amputations. That’s a shame because the fact is, if we dealt with obesity, we wouldn’t be facing the epidemics of heart disease, stroke, arthritis and diabetes that clog our hospital waiting rooms and OR’s.”
This article along with several others that I will be posting over the next several days is YOUR key to fitting exercise into your life.
To keep things organized and simple, the articles will be broken down into five easy sections:
Section 1: Assessing Physical Damage And Accepting the Importance of Exercise (Which you are reading at this moment)
Section 2: No Matter How Busy you Are, there are Ways you can Exercise
Section 3: Busy Traveler? You can Fit Exercise into your Trips
Section 4: Exercise Aids To Go
Section 5: Information / Resources for the Hurried and Harried
Read them in order, or if you wish, focus on the section that is most relevant to you right now. Regardless of how you choose to read these articles, you can be confident of one thing: once you apply the advice within these pages, your busy life will include something new and important: exercise!