I find it strange that when I write posts about exercise, I actually get more criticism than support. It truly baffles me.
I think what has happened is that, just as people are (rightfully) rebelling against the age old advice not to eat fat, they are rebelling against the adage “eat less and move more.” And they should. Eat less and move more is not a solution. It’s not about eating LESS, it’s about eating the RIGHT KINDS of foods. No matter how little processed, sugar-laden food you eat, it’s still bad for you. It’s not about eating bad foods less, it’s about eating good foods 95% (or more) of the time, and eating what your body needs to be nourished and healthy. “Eat less” is a ridiculous oversimplification of what the body really needs. And “move more” is NOT a solution when you have a poor diet. So I understand the backlash against that lousy advice.
But, once you have cleaned up your diet, ridding yourself of processed foods, sugar, grains and carbs that spike blood glucose, then what is wrong with “moving more?”
I’m not saying use exercise to try to cover a bad diet.
I’m not saying use exercise as an excuse to splurge.
I’m not even saying to count on exercise as your means of weight loss.
I’m saying, once your diet is right, why NOT move more? (barring any physical limitations). Can someone please tell me one thing WRONG with getting MORE exercise, or even SOME exercise? (Now, I’m also not talking about excessive exercise. Just your basic 1/2 hour of vigorous movement daily.)
The benefits of exercise are just to numerous to mention.
I’m going to steal a great list from Dr. Mark Hyman:
- “It makes your cells and muscles more sensitive to insulin so that you don’t need as much. Less insulin = less belly fat.
- It reduces the stress hormone cortisol. Too much cortisol and you become insulin resistant and store belly fat. Too much cortisol also makes you crave sugar and carbs and seek comfort food.
- If you do interval training (going fast, then slow), you can speed up your metabolism and burn more calories all day long, even while you sleep.
- Strength training builds muscle, and muscle burns seven times as many calories as fat.
- Exercise improves memory, learning and concentration.
- Vigorous exercise is a better anti-depressant than Prozac.
- Exercise protects your heart and reduces your risk of heart attack and stroke.
- Exercise reduces inflammation (the cause of almost every disease of aging).
- Exercise boosts detoxification of environmental chemicals.
- Exercise balances hormones and reduces breast and other common cancers.
- Exercise improves sexual function.”
So where is the downside?
I’m going to tell you an interesting tidbit about me. Every time in my life where I instituted an exercise regimen, I lost weight. But, in the past, my diet was poor, so my overall health did not improve much. Exercise NEVER covers a poor diet. When I went low carb, I lost 80 lbs with absolutely NO exercise. My body responded extremely well to getting carbs very low because my diet prior was VERY VERY heavy in carbs. That initially made me think that exercise wasn’t really necessary. (Maybe many of you are at that point).
But that was about five years ago. I found out later, for me anyways, that MAINTAINING weight loss over a long period of time, is MUCH HARDER than losing it to begin with. So I had to pull out all the stops and get active to maintain what I had achieved. I have now found that as I approach middle age, there are even more challenges to maintaining weight loss. I have to also get enough sleep, manage my stress, and keep hormones balanced (things I’m not always able to do. But that is a subject for another day, lol!)
“I don’t like exercise” you say? Have you ever heard the expression that you only do “something enough to hate it?” That is extremely applicable to exercise. If you don’t do it regularly enough to experience the benefits, you won’t like it. It will always seem like work and you won’t have much to show for it. I know, you’re tired and have no energy. But if you make exercise a REGULAR part of your routine, YOU WILL like it, you WILL have enough energy for it. And the excuse “I don’t have time.” I don’t even address that. The average person watches 5-6 hours of television daily. Just 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the evening may be all you need to get going. There is time. You know the old saying “If it is important to you, you will make time. If it is not important to you, you will make excuses.”
So, what type of exercise should you do? Well, that is up to you. But I find the most beneficial exercises for me are interval training and strength training. I do cardio interval exercise for 1/2 hour almost every day. Most recently, I have been splitting this up into two 15 minute segments after meals daily, most days. It’s quick and very effective. Then 3 times per week, I do strength training. I try to work at the max intensity I am able to, but I keep my movements very simple. As I have gotten older, my coordination, balance and flexibility are not as good as they once were. But my regularity in doing the exercise is helping me improve in all of these areas.
If you have physical limitations, tailor your exercise regimen to fit your abilities. Most people can walk for exercise. If you can do that, start there. Then change it to interval style, increasing intensity, then maybe add weights. Try to continually challenge yourself. When your routine gets too easy, increase intensity or resistance.
And it’s not just structured exercise that is beneficial. Adding more activity every day can help as well. While being sedentary IN ITSELF is not the CAUSE of the obesity epidemic, is there anyone out there who wouldn’t agree that being sedentary is just not good for us? So take the dog for a walk (your pets need exercise too), use the stairs instead of the elevator, park in the farthest parking spot away from your destination and walk in, get up and move during commercial breaks of your favorite television show, etc. Find ways to be less sedentary. Your body will thank you 😉
So while exercise is not the ANSWER to weight loss and good health, it is certainly ONE of the KEY elements. Maybe 2017 will be the year that we can renew interest in this great health boosting activity.
Wishing you health and happiness!