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by Christel Swasey

Do You Think Health When You Think Exercise?

Do you have a negative attitude about exercising? What do you think of when you think of exercising?  Do you think of suffering, sweating, panting, feeling pain in your lungs, a stitch in your side, sore joints and blisters?  Do you think that after this suffering, you also have to endure dieting to match the pain?   Or, like my oh-so-nutty and dear, chubby friend, do you think you have to lose weight before you can exercise without embarrassment?  Stop the insanity.  Nobody cares but you.  Just do it!

Think of the euphoria of those after-exercise endorphins being released; think of the just-exercised fresh looking complexion you’ll face in the mirror, and the spring in your step when your muscles are stronger, and then think of the fact that this simple act, exercise, repeated consistently, can add years to your life.  Think of the fact that exercise lowers cholesterol (preventing heart disease and heart attacks) and it improves mood (even in small amounts) and it improves metabolism, bone health, and beauty– to name just a few reasons to exercise.

Are you, like so many people, a victim of false beliefs, such as believing you must exercise very intensely and for long amounts of time, or achieve the perfect body weight, to get health benefits from exercise?  (None of these are true; recent studies show that moderate walking for about thirty minutes, three to four days a week, has huge benefits for anyone, regardless of weight or age.)

Because exercise is the antidote for so many illnesses, both physical and mental, we should do more of it.  But because we live in a society where cars, elevators, computers, factories, and drive-throughs make us move less and sit more, it’s not easy to work it into our daily lives.

Experts are suggesting simple changes, more and more.   If  you don’t like the weights or the aerobics classes at the local gym, why not try a new sport?  Swimming, golfing, hiking, or roller skating can be really fun at any age: why not try a new sport? What’s stopping you?

When I began to run, years ago, I was a total non-runner.  My friend taught me that the trick is not to go for speed, but for time.  I’d run for three minutes, and then walk the rest of the time.  The next day, I’d run for four minutes, and then walk the rest of the time.  The following day, I’d run for five minutes, and then walk.  I’d never go backwards, and I’d never speed up.

And that simple bit of advice worked for me.  I ended up running a half marathon without stopping to walk once.  No lie.

If nothing else works for you, rely on walking.  It is the simplest, most portable, most inexpensive, most sociable and long lasting sport I can think of.

Walk around the block; walk your dog, walk your baby in the stroller, walk with a neighbor, walk with your cell phone friend across the continent, walk alone– just walk!

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