EXERCISE

It is not a bad word!

Exercise and Fitness

Exercise is one of the topics I am passionate about. Throughout high school I took dance lessons and in my twenties I started lifting weights. I have always exercised and enjoyed its many benefits. I was really glad I had developed those habits especially when I went to physical therapy after being diagnosed with CRPS / RSD. The physical therapist I worked with said that my being in shape was a definite benefit that would assist me in my recovery process. Learning to walk without a limp (which took 5 years) wasn't a piece of cake, but I believe it was possible because of the good physical shape I was in at the time of my injury.

The Benefits of Regular Exercise

Exercise isn't just for overweight people. Exercise is something I feel everyone should do! Exercise has so many benefits I do not understand why you would not want to do it. These benefits range from physical, to psychological to improving your health and even preventing disease. Below are some of those benefits.

The Physical Benefits

  • It helps manage your weight.
  • It helps you look and feel better.

Hopefully you have realized by now with all the diets on the market, people are obsessed about their weight and how they look. To sum it up, the only reason we become overweight (unless you have a medical condition) is because we eat more calories than we burn off. The best way to lose weight is to cut down on the number of calories you are eating or increase your activity. So let's get moving and turn your body into a fat burning machine! As Leslie Sansone would say "If you want a better body, you got to move your body!" I know this to be true since every morning I exercise with her "Walk at Home" series and I love her programs!

The Psychological Benefits

  • It Improves your mood.
  • It improves your self-esteem.
  • It reduces depression.
  • It reduces anxiety and stress.
  • It improves your brain power and learning.
  • It is FUN and leaves you with a runner's high.

Exercising for 30 minutes is a great way to blow off tension, especially after a hard day at work. Exercising boosts your levels of soothing brain chemicals like serotonin. It's no wonder people who exercise feel better!

The Health Benefits

  • It helps prevent and combat chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, some types of cancer and osteoporosis.
  • It can help manage high blood pressure.
  • It can help your body produce HDL the happy (good) cholesterol.
  • It increases your energy levels.
  • It promotes better sleep.
  • It can spruce up your sex life.
  • It can make your heart stronger.

Studies have shown that it is never too late to start exercising and you are not too old to build muscle. Some older individuals between the ages of 60 and 79, were put on an aerobic exercise training program. These individuals showed an increase in brain volume after 6 months, with more gray matter than white matter. Exercising is so beneficial to your health and for the prevention of certain types of cancer that the American Cancer Society recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise five days a week.

exercise ball

What Types of Exercise Should You Do

According to experts, you should do a variety of exercises that include flexibility or stretching, strength or resistance training, core exercises, and aerobics.

  • Flexibility or Stretching is pretty self explanatory and are important to do during your exercise routine as well as during your warm up and cool down.
  • Core Exercises are exercises that train the muscles in your pelvis, hips, lower back and abdomen to work together.
  • Strength or Resistance Training is performing exercises that use resistance to strengthen and condition the bones and muscles. This type of exercise usually increases muscle size and endurance while increasing bone density.
  • Aerobics is doing an activity that uses large muscle groups, like walking, biking, jogging, or swimming. These activities are long in duration yet low in intensity and you should be able to carry on a conversation during these activities promoting the circulation of oxygen to your body.

Each morning I do a combination of stretching, pilates, weight lifting, and aerobics. It is a great way to start your day! Remember that new recent research has found that excessive aerobic activity can actually harm you and your heart so keep it to 2 1/2 hours a week of moderate aerobic activity and no more than an hour per week of vigorous activities like running.

Where Do You Start

There are so many choices today leaving us to ask many questions.

  • Should I join a gym?
  • Should I take exercise classes?
  • Should I exercise at home?
  • What type of exercises will I like and should I do?
  • When am I going to exercise?

I can only share my experiences with you. I went through a year of physical therapy in 1994 with my RSD and before my accident I exercised at a gym, after my accident I exercised at home. Part of it for me was that exercising became difficult and was painful and the healing process was slow so I felt more comfortable doing it at home. So I still continue to exercise at home. Finding out what exercises I liked and can do with my RSD was another challenge. For me, I love pilates, weight lifting, dancing around the basement or doing the Leslie Sansone "Walk at Home" dvds. I also found that the experts are right when they tell you that people who get up early and exercise first thing in the morning (I know who wants to do that) are the most consistent with their exercise programs. I used to do it at night and just this week I started doing it first thing in the morning and I am 4 out of 4. Last week I was 2 out of 5.

No matter what you decide I highly recommend you choose an activity that you enjoy. Fun Sweaty Activities are the most enjoyable! It is also a good idea to assess your beginning fitness level and set some personal goals for yourself. You may also want to determine your BMI (Body Mass Index) or Target Heart Rate and measure each before you begin.

As a final note, a study was done showing that people who spend most of their day sitting down have a much higher mortality rate than those who don't. Even if you are exercising daily, it is a good idea to get up and move around during your workday.

Written by Mara Gerke, CA, CNHP, All Rights Reserved.

References: Mayo Clinic, US Health News, Huffington Post