Choose You Blog

Getting Active: Exercise as a means to what end?

May 5th, 2011 by - comments (13)

Exercise: As easy as riding a bike

In a recent post here about eating right and making healthy food choices (or healthier) over less healthy food choices, (Knowledge about your food really is power!), a commenter left a truly potent remark that has lingered with me ever since:

“De A says:

There was a recent article in my local paper about visitors from Europe. They were quoted as saying they could not believe all the emphasis on exercise here, and it would be less necessary if American portion sizes were smaller, as in their country.”

The assumption in the newspaper quote is that one only exercises as means to some form of weight loss or weight maintenance end. I strenuously (aerobically, lol) disagree.

But I don’t blame anyone; I just think we’ve gotten such a focus on obesity we’ve grabbed the wrong end of the stick. Exercise isn’t just about your weight; it’s about your body, keeping it toned, strong, healthy.

For example, yoga, when it defines itself, says its purpose is to, “involve movements, which bring stability and energy to the body, the senses, the mind, and the consciousness.” So, no mention of weight there. Yoga as exercise intends to balance physical and mental energy, strengthen the body, increase flexibility, relieve stress, improve posture, control breathing, and so forth. These are all things that have the primary goal of improving overall health — not losing weight.

The American Cancer Society advocates activity because, “Being active is an important part of staying healthy, regardless of your age. It may also lower your risk for certain types of cancer. In this section we offer suggestions to help you get and stay active.” It adds that, “Research has proven that we all benefit from being active, regardless of age. People who are active are less stressed, live healthier lives, and have lower medical costs.”

You lessen your risk of diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. You increase your chance of feeling happier and less stressed. And more. The Mayo Clinic has seven proven benefits of exercise:

  1. Improves your mood.
  2. Combats chronic disease.
  3. Manages your weight.
  4. Boosts your energy.
  5. Promotes better sleep.
  6. Puts the spark back in your sex life.
  7. It can be fun!

Who doesn’t want that?

Yes, portion control and healthy eating choices and exercise are crucial to managing weight, but it’s not all about the number on the scale or how your pants fit (or what size they are). really it’s all about taking care of your body and being healthy. It’s about lowering your risk for problems.

You can do a little or a lot. You can be creative or follow a standard gym plan. Here’s a great article to help you determine a good type of exercise for you and how much you need, as well as creative alternatives: “Make Exercise Work for You

And if you can spare a few minutes, Choose You blog has a daily exercise video! Just scroll down to see the ExerciseTV Workout of the Day or click here to download a two-week workout. You can also pledge to get active!

Just remember: it’s for your muscles, bones, heart, organs, and mind as much as it is for your waistline.

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13 Responses to “Getting Active: Exercise as a means to what end?”

  1. De A says:

    I’m glad you picked up on this, because I thought the same things, and have always believed that the purpose of exercise is to have a strong, well-functioning body. The travelers from the newspaper article were seniors, old enough to have lived at a time when most lives were a lot less sedentary than today. We need to include the activity of exercise because our daily routines don’t require it.

  2. Celia says:

    As a European who has lived in the States for 20 odd years I’d like to point out that most European communities are designed for walking. U.S communities are designed for cars. My (thin) parents weren’t sporty or athletic but they walked almost everywhere.

  3. I think that’s a good point. It’s true we just aren’t designed these days to have as much motion, naturally, within our day. I actually think (know) a lot more has changed than just being more sedentary. I think it all means we have to be much more conscientious — about choosing to move and choosing to eat healthier. It’s not easy. So much processed and engineered food, and so little natural movement. I did find more “real” food and a very different eating style while my husband was working in France, not to mention more ability to walk. We miss that. Also, we’re (people) living longer. Our work day and work week’s are long (longer than my parents), and not manual labor. Much more is automated. So…a lot has changed. And while walking cities (Boston) are great, and you can find healthy food, it’s still important to make those good choices. So much benefit.

  4. Yes, that’s so true. We don’t have that routine of manual labor. We keep making things more automated but somehow life feels busier. Older generations have told me life is really different, busier, more demanding. Maybe in a lot of ways that’s true. I’m certainly not thinking i have to rougher than a pioneer though lol. I also live a lot longer than pioneers. So, yes, totally agree with you, De.

  5. Winnie Chapman says:

    When I taught school, there was a lot of controversy concerning memory enhancing drugs to help students perform better on tests. Brain research showed that eating a serving of fruit (such as a handful of raisins), drinking a glass of water and 3-5 minutes of vigorous exercise (such as running place, jumping jacks, etc) had the same effect as the prescription drugs. Exercise sends freshly oxygenated blood to the brain and “does a body good.”

  6. Getting Active. If your feeling down and find yourself questioning yourself why me? Will life get better for me? This is what you do.Get up and go to some hardworking,go for a walk,go to your neighborhood YMCA and go swimming, or grab a friend and go workout! You ask why? Because it feels great.,and releases stress,it clears your mind and helps you think clearer for whatever issues you have going on.Trust me,it works for me and helps me deal with day to day life,so come on,grab your dog or friend and lets all exercise! For our better health Esther

  7. Getting Active. If your feeling down and find yourself questioning yourself why me? Will life get better for me? This is what you do.Get up and go to some yard work ,go for a walk,go to your neighborhood YMCA and go swimming, or grab a friend and go workout! You ask why? Because it feels great.,and releases stress,it clears your mind and helps you think clearer for whatever issues you have going on.Trust me,it works for me and helps me deal with day to day life,so come on,grab your dog or friend and lets all exercise! For our better health Esther

  8. Kris Schlupp says:

    I find that BALANCE, like physically being “not wobbley”, is a really important component to staying fit. (So is flexibility – nothing will make you feel younger than gracefully bending down to straighten the strap on a hot shoe!) Yoga really improved my ability to negotiate curbs, bumpy sod, river banks with uneven terrain. (In heels or not -haha!) A fall can incapacitate. Physical therapy is expensive, and so is medical care and lack of mobility gets really frustrating for people with injuries due to falls. Developing BALANCE is a great side effect of using muscles and moving!

  9. sherri Gates says:

    I am active two or so hours a day heart rate up and exercising but with chemo induced neuropathy and fatique I sometimes wonder if it will ever get better. I am happier when I am active I just have so much discomfort and that slows me down..

  10. christine says:

    When I decided to embark on a daily regimen of exercise 5 years ago, my goal was to stay healthy and to boost my immune system. I do a combination of cardio, pilates, and weight training 6 days a week. I rest on Sunday. At the last get together with some friends whom I had not seen for a long time, my friends all commented how healthy and happy I looked. There you have it, the “fringe” benefit of exercising: not only it keeps you in good shape, it makes you happy too, and it shows!

  11. Julie Gooding Hasty says:

    Exercise is as important as eating in my opinion. Our bodies were not meant to sit behind a computer or in front of a teacher all day…we really need exercise to maintain and balance our health, which is mental, spiritual, physical….I believe that there is too much emphasis on academics and not enough on health in our schools and workplaces…this is from a Registered Health Educators viewpoint! We need more safe walking places and clean parks and recreation facilities for everyone!

  12. Peggy says:

    We have learned, thanks to many studies, that exercise is not only good for keeping our weight at a proper level, but it is good for the mind, good for the ‘soul’ and good for helping to reduce heart disease, and even reduces our risk of cancer. Walking is something you do because it’s going to help you stay healthy, it gets you out in the fresh air, and lets you see beyond the walls of your home. Time to chat with neighbors or just wave at them as you hurry on your way. Walking is GREAT!

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