Exercise: What Will It Do For You?

November 15, 2016
Would you like to feel better, look better, have more energy and enjoy life more fully?  Have you thought about developing a weekly physical activity program (otherwise known as exercise) to fit your needs and to improve your overall health?

Do you know which of the following statements is true and which is false?
1.       Exercise has many benefits!
2.       All exercise activities do not give you the same benefits!
3.       Exercising takes too much time!
4.       The older you are, the less exercise you need!
5.       You have to be athletic to exercise!

1.True: Regular exercise helps to improve your overall health and fitness and reduces your risk for many chronic diseases. Our bodies were designed to move, not to spend all of our time sitting or lying. In addition to physical benefits of exercise for your bones, ligaments and muscles, regular exercise can provide one with more energy and capacity for work and leisure activities, better balance, lower blood pressure, weight loss, greater resistance to stress and anxiety, stimulation of the immune system and a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.

2.True: Sustained exercise such as brisk walking, biking, jogging or swimming can improve the efficiency of the heart and lungs and burn off a lot of calories. Other activities like gardening or house cleaning may not give you the cardiovascular benefit but you may get other benefits such as increased flexibility and muscle strength.

3. False: According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, adults need 2         hours and 30 minutes (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week. Examples of moderate-intensity aerobic activity include fast walking, water aerobics, biking on level ground or with few hills, playing double tennis, and pushing a lawn mower. One-hundred fifty minutes (150) each week sounds like a lot of time, but you do not have to do it all at once. You can even break it up into smaller chunks of time during the day, as long as you are doing your activity at a moderate or vigorous intensity for at least 10 minutes at a time. One way to tell if you are working hard enough is that you will be able to talk but not sing the words to a favorite song.  

In addition, in order to keep from losing muscle strength as you age, adults should participate two or more days a week in muscle-strengthening activities that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, chest, abdomen, shoulders and arms). You can but do not have to do this activity on the same day that you do aerobic activity. Examples of muscle strengthening include weight lifting, using resistance bands and using your body weight for resistance (pushups, sit ups). Making sure that exercise is part of your everyday activity will become a natural part of your life and may provide you with many unexpected benefits.

4. False: With age, we tend to become less physically active and need to make sure that we are getting enough exercise. In general, middle-aged and older people benefit from regular exercise just as young people do.  Age need not be a limitation. What is important, no matter what your age, is tailoring the exercise program to your own fitness level.  

5. False: Most brisk activities do not require any special athletic abilities.  In fact, many people who found school sports difficult have discovered that other activity choices are enjoyable and easy to do.

If you have not been exercising routinely, you will need to check with your physician before starting a moderate to intense aerobic workout. If your physician gives you his/her blessing to start an exercise program, "just do it" and reap the benefits! No matter how old you are, you can get started today and see what happens! 

Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, Physical Activity, www.CDC.gov.
Siegel, Bernie, S. MD. Love, Medicine and Miracles, Lessons Learned About Self-Healing From a Surgeon’s Experience with Exceptional Patients, Harper and Row, Publishers, New York, 1986, pp. 142. 

Connie Pearson, RN, MN, Chair
Health Ministries Task Force