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September 28, 2021

Exercise benefits — no excuses

The benefits of exercise are no longer theoretical. All recent studies concerning exercise and its effect on people conclusively state that exercise will help most people live longer and healthier lives. Whether you are young or old, overweight or underweight, or even if you have a disability, exercise will benefit you.
Most of us at any age wish we were more fit. But becoming older doesn’t mean we have to become weaker and more fragile. Most physical changes of aging are due to inactivity and lifestyles that do not include regular exercise. Becoming and staying physically fit is the most important thing we can do to maintain our ability to continue doing the activities we now enjoy.
And the more fit one is, the more independent one typically remains, as well as happier and more satisfied with life.
It’s truly never too late to begin a fitness program. So in this article, I would like to list the benefits of exercise and also give valid reasons for not putting it off any longer.
Reasons to exercise
Live longer. Those who exercise regularly have been proven to add years to their lives.
Help to lose weight. Combined with proper diet, one will lose weight.
Strengthen your heart. A stronger heart pumps blood more efficiently and doesn’t have to beat as fast.
Lift your mood. People who exercise tend to be happier and less depressed.
Improve chronic conditions. Exercise has been found to lower blood pressure and to improve diabetes and arthritis.
Defend against illness. Exercise can boost the immune system and help fight off illness, especially flu and colds.
Improve stamina. Exercise can provide more pep and energy and reduce fatigue.
Improve circulation. Exercise can improve blood cholesterol and help keep arteries clear.
Because I say so. Just wanted to see if you’re paying attention. I really do exercise by bicycling and swimming, and I feel so much better doing so.
Overcoming excuses for not exercising
Not enough time. Wake up earlier. Do several shorter periods of exercise throughout the day. Drive less, walk more.
Tried it before, didn’t work. Set realistic goals. Pace yourself. Reinforce in your mind the benefits of exercise.
I might injure myself by exercising. Start with a beginning exercise group. Pace yourself. Consider working with a trainer.
It’s too expensive. Joining a gym or having expensive equipment at home would be nice, but are not necessary. Watch an exercise video at home. Try just walking or climbing stairs.
I’m not athletic. Most people are not particularly athletic. But athleticism is not a prerequisite for routine exercise. Anyone can and should exercise.
It’s just too much work. If exercise is just too much to do for your own good, then do it for those who love you. They will have you around longer, and they will enjoy your health and happiness.
Terry Hollenbeck, M.D., is an urgent-care physician at Santa Cruz Medical Foundation in Scotts Valley. A doctor with 34 years’ experience, he invites health-related questions at [email protected] Information in this column is not intended to replace professional advice. For any medical concern, consult a qualified practitioner.

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