Selecting Your Exercise program

2CAF75TXWCAQWM13YCA2I3TB1CA6GS6UOCATEYVS3CAIP46L5CADU0RW8CAL2M1YKCAKH9VO6CAPKSUNNCA8UU70SCAURGJ0SCAY1FN6ZCALD9K42CAWKFN2MCAA1JZJKCAMLWKSXCAE1DIBJCA5CRGQQ The real task is to find a form of exercise that you will find enjoyable. Joy not just in having gone through the workout but pleasure in actually doing the activity. When you find such an activity you will have won a major part of the battle in being able to sustain a program.

What are your personal goals when it comes to exercise? Do you strive primarily to attain health benefits? Are you interested in adding more everyday activities/lifestyle choices to meet a minimal level of exercise? Does gym membership interest you? If so, are you more interested in individual or group fitness options? If group activity is important to you have you investigated what types of classes are available? Is there a sport or sports that interest you that you would like to explore? Has your doctor recommended that you exercise, do resistance training for bone health, encouraged you to seek increased flexibility to reduce the risk of injury and accidents?

Or, do you already exercise but feel you have reached a plateau from which you would like to advance or are you considering moving from being a casual runner to preparing for and beginning to compete in road races of various lengths? There are master level competitions in many activities—so don’t let the passage of time prevent you from pursuing the idea of competition if that appeals to you. Or maybe you have exercised on your own for awhile and are now interested in joining a group or feel confident enough to join a gym? It is not true that you have to be in shape to go to a gym—there are plenty of couch potatoes trying to change their ways mixed in with those who already have experienced the advantages that come from regular exercise.

You also need to consider whether you are a morning or night person—if you are a night person you will learn to hate any activity that requires you to be at the gym at 5:45 am several days a week. A morning person will also not much care for vigorous activity in the evening during the time that person normally begins to wind down from the day. Are you self-motivated or do you need the pressure of schedule to keep you on track. Do you crave routine or do you relish change? Do you need to design your own program or would you be more satisfied by having someone else do this for you?

All of these factors can influence your choice of the correct program for you. It also helps to keep an open mind and try different things in the search to discover what types of activity bring you joy. You may find, for example, that running gives you a wonderful endorphin rush but yoga gives you a sense a calm and the flexibility to keep running. There is no reason why you cannot do both.

Exercise

2caibuw0bca3vfzjhcahsnq2gcagukxhaca17sds3caa42us1caysjcaecag4iwbtcaq36rllcaonzqexca678ngzcaawx32mcaq5hcf4caiu130ccaromo2hca6ot3wpcaugy1fpcavmzgcocan2c104A sedentary lifestyle substantially increases the risk of certain illnesses. The risk of developing elevated triglycerides and cholesterol levels is increased as is the probability of developing high blood pressure and obesity. These increase the risks for heart disease, diabetes, stroke and some forms of cancer. The brittle bones of osteoporosis are more common in sedentary individuals and conditions such as arthritis may be more debilitating due to the increased stiffness and joint pain associated with inactivity. There is a loss in bodily flexibility and the muscles are not as strong as they need to be to help protect joints and reduce the risk of everyday injuries and accidents. In an inactive person the tendency of the body to lose lean body mass as the years advance is more pronounced than in a physically active individual, as is the associated increase in body fat. Weight gain is almost certain unless caloric intake is significantly reduced, which is highly unlikely in the current environment of large portions and a tendency to eat many high fat, high calorie snacks. A sedentary lifestyle reduces a person’s problem solving ability, speed of thinking, short and long-term memory, reaction time, as well as increasing risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Last but certainly not least, an inactive person gives up a major tool for reducing stress as well as a tool for preventing or ameliorating mild forms of depression.

Inactivity robs a person of much of the joie de vivre (joy of living). In addition to increased risk for serious illness, a sedentary lifestyle saps an individual’s energy. A sedentary individual loses muscle mass which leads to a decrease in metabolism and a propensity to gain weight. The brain of a sedentary individual works less efficiently than it would if the same individual were more active. Flexibility and muscle strength are reduced and activities of daily life become more difficult. Everyday stresses become more overwhelming as the body is subjected to frequent bursts of the hormones associated with the fight or flight response without the advantage of the regular exercise (a flight response of sorts) which helps soothe muscle tension, feelings of stress and mild depression. Without regular exercise sleep may be disrupted, eating for emotional reasons may increase, and the use of substances such as drugs or alcohol may also intensify. An individual undergoing these experiences often interprets these changes as a sign of aging even if they are chronologically middle-aged or younger.

The physical changes resulting from inactivity are demoralizing, frustrating and limiting not only to the sedentary individual but also for their family. Inactivity results in a person tiring more easily than if that person was physically active. An inactive individual is more likely to gain weight which often leads to feeling less attractive and less self-confident. It is a chore to make it through daily responsibilities and a couch or comforting snacks or beverages may become the highlight of the day. In fact, many of the liabilities often associated with aging are actually the result of not giving the body opportunities for the activity it needs.

A sedentary lifestyle results in the loss of an opportunity to burn calories, and the loss of lean body mass, which results in a lowered metabolic rate because lean body tissue is more metabolically active. It becomes a major challenge if weight gain is to be prevented. Even an extra hundred calories a day in excess of what the body needs to perform vital functions will result in the gaining of ten pounds in a year. Individuals are born with a certain number of fat cells which is partly determined by their genes. As weight is gained these fat cells expand to their capacity for fat storage. If enough weight is gained, additional fat cells are created by the body. Once the additional fat cells are formed future weight loss will result in the reduction of the size of the fat cells but not in their number. The greater the number of fat cells the harder it is to lose weight and maintain weight losses.

While genetics may predispose an individual to gain weight or affect the speed with which weight may be lost, lifestyle choices play a MAJOR role in what happens to an individual. No, not everyone can (or should) attain the (tall!) slender, toned bodies idealized by the popular media. However, everyone has the choice to be more active. Exercise is essential to weight management.