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Exercise
Basic Information

Exercise

It's risky to be a couch potato! A sedentary lifestyle substantially increases your risk of certain serious illnesses, saps energy and vitality from your life, and makes it all but certain that you'll gain weight over time.

Illnesses associated with inactivity include:

Heart Disease. Inactivity is associated with elevated levels of fat (triglycerides) and cholesterol in your blood and with high blood pressure and obesity. Blood chemistry and pressure problems, in turn, increase the risks for heart disease, diabetes, stroke and some forms of cancer.

Bone and Joint Disease. Sedentary individuals are more prone to developing bone and joint problems like osteoporosis and arthritis. Inactivity leads to a loss of bodily flexibility and muscle tone, and weakened muscles lead to increased risk of everyday injuries and accidents due to their inability to properly protect and cushion joints. Conditions like a...

 
Fast Facts: Learn! Fast!

What are the benefits of regular exercise?

  • Physically active individuals have a much better health outlook than their sedentary peers.
  • A minimum of 20 to 30 minutes of moderate activity a day most days of the week will benefit health and assist with weight loss.
  • Exercise reduces people's chances of developing and dying of illnesses such as heart disease.
  • Sedentary individuals often complain of being too tired to work out. Ironically, exercise improves people's capacity for work so that people who exercise on a regular basis actually have more energy and greater strength and endurance for daily activities than do their sedentary peers.
  • Physically fit people are stronger, healthier and more energetic than sedentary people.
  • An exercise session burns calories and elevates metabolic rate both during exercise and then for hours after exercise is completed.
  • Exercise helps to preserve and build lean muscle mass and works to suppress appetite.
  • Exercise helps people to relax, improves sleep and reduces muscular tension.
  • Exercise improves self-confidence.
  • Exercising outside the home, whether in the great outdoors, at a gym or recreation center, in an exercise class, sport group, walking or running club, etc., all lead to encounters with other people who also enjoy working out.

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How do I select an appropriate exercise program?

  • Selecting a form of exercise you actually find enjoyable is perhaps the most important thing you can do to insure your exercise success.
  • When you find an exercise you actually like you will have won a major part of the battle in being able to sustain an exercise program.
  • The exercise format that is most right for you will be one that closely matches your lifestyle, personality and health needs.
  • The following questions may help you to get thinking about what you want from an exercise program:
    • What do you want most from your exercise program? Health benefits? Strength and muscular definition? Social opportunities?
    • What sort of exercise might benefit you most, given your present health?
    • Are you more interested in individual or group fitness options?
    • Do you have any pre-existing curiosity about particular forms of exercise?
    • Are you interested in a formal workout, or in simply finding ways to do more exercise-like everyday activities that will help you meet a minimal exercise goal?
    • Do you need to design your own program or would you be more satisfied by having someone else do this for you?
    • Are you a morning or a night person?
    • Are you self-motivated or do you need the pressure of a defined schedule to keep you on track?
    • Do you crave routine or do you relish change?

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What types of exercise are there?

  • Lifestyle exercise is an exercise program for people who are too busy to exercise. This simply involves choosing to handle everyday activities in such a way that they become small exercise opportunities.
  • A popular way to make exercise fun is to pursue it on a recreational basis through participation in sports.
  • A formal workout program is, obviously, more formal and scheduled than are informal exercise efforts such as lifestyle exercise or sports participation.
  • There are several basic types of formal workouts: aerobic workouts, strength training workouts, and flexibility workouts.
  • Most often, formal exercise programs vary between these types, intermixing strength training with aerobic workouts for example, so as to best promote overall health.
  • Aerobic workouts are formal workouts designed to increase endurance and promote physical (and heart) health.
  • The process of exercising with progressively heavier resistance in order to improve the musculoskeletal system is known as strength training.
  • Flexibility training has as its goal to increase or maintain an adequate range of motion in the body's many joints (shoulders, back of the legs (hamstrings), hips, back and spine, etc.) so as to better perform tasks of daily life, including recreational activities, with comfort and safety.

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How can I stay committed to an exercise program?

  • In order to fully benefit from exercise, one must actually exercise in a disciplined way over sustained periods of time.
  • Maintaining an exercise program is difficult. One must stick to it day after day despite the many distractions and emergencies that life throws in one's path.
  • There are a few things that can be done to make the task easier, however:
    • Pick an exercise partner - Having an exercise partner helps to keep people motivated and working out at times when they would otherwise succumb to stress, fatigue or distraction.
    • Define reasonable, achievable small steps en route to long term goals.
    • Make a public exercise contract - Making your plan public improves your commitment to carrying out your plan by making it embarrassing for you to not follow through.
    • Pick the right type of exercise for you - it's very difficult to stay with an exercise program unless it personally brings you satisfaction and joy.

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