Exercise Benfits & Tips

Why should I exercise?
Courtesy: Sunday, October 9th 2005, Trinidad Express

The overall benefit of being active and fit is an improved quality of life-being able to do things you enjoy for longer periods of time (for example, playing with the kids, gardening, dancing, or walking). Research repeatedly shows that fitness is a strong measure of health. In a study of more than 25,000 volunteers, researchers at the Cooper Clinic found that a person's fitness level was more important than body weight. Men in the study who were overweight or obese, but who were physically fit, had a lower risk of death than men who were a healthy weight but were not physically fit. Being fit improves your overall health and reduces your risk of disease.

Benefits include:
  • A healthier heart. Physical activity makes demands on your heart that make it stronger and better able to function.
  • Healthy muscles, bones, and joints. Resistance training such as weight lifting improves muscular strength and endurance and increases bone density.
  • Increased burning of calories. Physical activity burns calories and helps you achieve a healthy balance of calories. Being fit may also lower your percentage of body fat and increase muscle strength and tone.

    No matter what your size or shape, physical activity has important health benefits, including:
  • Better ability to cope with stress. People who are fit have less anxiety, depression, and stress than people who aren't active.
  • Improved ability to fall asleep and sleep well.
  • Increased energy.
  • Increased mental acuity.

    Long-term benefits include reduced risk of:
  • Dying early.
  • Developing coronary artery disease. Non-active men have about twice the risk of developing heart disease as men who are regularly physically active.
  • Having a second heart attack. Also, people who get regular physical activity as part of a cardiac rehabilitation programme have a lower risk of dying from a heart attack.
  • Developing high blood pressure.
  • Developing Type 2 diabetes. Physical activity may prevent Type 2 diabetes through its effect on insulin, how the body processes sugar, and maintenance of body weight.
  • Developing colon and other cancers.
  • Becoming obese.
    Exercise excuses
    Courtesy: By Brian Chin Lueng, Guardian 04.04.05

    There are 1001 excuses that people can give for not being able to train. Let's have a look at some of the more popular excuses, which I am going to dissect.

    I don't have the time... This one is a classic; these same people who complain about not having time, are the ones you see most at the movies, out at dinner and at various parties. If in a 24-hour day, you cannot find one hour to exercise, something has to be seriously wrong with your lifestyle. Some of them tell you, that the reason they do not have time, is because they have to look after their family; but by keeping fit and healthy, won't you be able to look after your family more efficiently? If you were to develop some sort of heart disease, which was brought on because of lack of exercise and a poor diet, you may not be able to look after your family at all. God forbid, that one day you may have to undergo by-pass surgery because of some cardiovascular disease; you would have noticed that as soon as you recovered from the surgery, all of a sudden you found the time to exercise and eat properly.

    I hate to exercise... If you hate doing a particular form of exercise, that is understandable, but find some other physical activity that you might enjoy. For example, if you hate running, try swimming; if you can't swim, try riding; if you can't ride a bike, try hiking; just get up off your butt and do something. I am not seeing any changes in my body when I exercise However, with consistency and dedication to your exercise programme, you will lose the weight and get fitter. The majority of people that I know, who have great bodies, workout on a regular basis, and are very serious about their nutritional habits. Never envy anyone who has a great body, because you have no idea of the sacrifices relating to exercise, and nutrition, that they would have had to endure.

    I don't know how to workout... If you want to learn to drive a car, what should you do? The answer is, hire a driving instructor; likewise, if you are unsure about an exercise programme, then hire a personal trainer. T&T has an elite group of personal trainers, who are highly qualified and can easily hold their own on the international stage. Choose a trainer who has international certification and a balanced approach to fitness. In other words someone who treats the basic components of fitness-cardiovascular endurance, strength and flexibility with equal importance.

    I tried exercising, but keep stopping... People often abandon a programme, because they schedule too many workouts; you must learn to pace yourself properly, so that your body has time to recuperate properly after an intense workout. It would also be a good idea to change up your programme every six weeks, that way you won't get bored. If you have been running a lot, try a little mountain biking for variety; there are great trails all around T&T. On a personal note, my main sport is karate, but I also enjoy other activities like running and biking. I am certainly no Lance Armstrong, but I do find mountain biking in particular, to be quite relaxing and easy on your joints, such as your hips, knees, ankles etc. You cannot go to the gym for two days and expect to see miraculous changes in your body.
    Exercise is painful... Exercise is only painful when your form is bad or if you are on the wrong programme for your body type. If you are performing cardiovascular exercises like running, biking etc, regularly, then you should see that you stay within your training heart rate zone, which any good trainer can easily calculate. Likewise, if you are weight training, use a weight that will get you through ten reps. The sixth to tenth rep should feel mildly uncomfortable, but that is only because your muscle has to be stimulated with a certain amount of resistance. Do not let any trainer push you to the point where you can't walk properly for the next five days, just to fuel their own ego. That is utter nonsense.

    Develop a passion for exercise, allow it to become part of your daily routine, just like brushing your teeth or taking a bath. Vary your workouts; some days should be very light, eg. an enjoyable walk with a friend, while other days can be more intense, where you might feel that you are Lance Armstrong. Remember, that body you have, cannot be traded in like your car, you have to live in it for the rest of your life, so treat it well.

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