Exercise, the Marmite of activities, we either love it or hate it, but regardless of our opinion, it seems pretty unanimous that some sort of exercise can only be beneficial to our general wellbeing. So for those of us who love exercise and regularly partake, what are our reasons for putting unnecessary stresses on our bodies when the alternative is considerably easier and more appealing? Why lift weights to near exhaustion, run for miles with no purpose other than because we can, or gather in groups to jump, lunge and sweat in time to music whilst being shouted at? There seems to be no logic to it, but for millions of people worldwide it is a pleasurable experience and one in which they invest copious amounts of time, energy and money.
There are many reasons cited by those who regularly exercise, and the benefits go far beyond the obvious benefits to health or the need to look good or fight back the ravages of time. From combating cardiovascular disease to looking good on stage and everything in between, exercise can be of benefit to us all in some form or another and need not be too strenuous to be effective. As we age these reasons may change or become more relevant, after all, the importance of looking good without a shirt on pales in comparison with being able to move pain free for those of retirement age, or illness may mean the ability to run a marathon has little relevance to an asthmatic who has difficulty simply breathing! However, in each of these scenarios exercise can be of benefit and so should not be seen as purely for use by the super fit or athletic.
The benefits of exercise are far reaching and can be used to improve the lives of us all both mentally and physically throughout our lives. How many of us would benefit from a long walk at times of high stress, or the release of feel good endorphins after a long day at work? The sense of achievement when a new personal best is achieved in the gym, or a new stroke mastered in the swimming pool cannot be understated and exercise often allows valuable ‘me time’ for many people, particularly parents or those involved with looking after others.
Throughout life exercise plays a part, from the aesthetics of youth to the mobility of old age, the prevention of disease to the easing of symptoms and is important for so much of our overall wellbeing. Resistance training should be encouraged for women to prevent osteoarthritis and bone issues in later life, cardiovascular exercise can help with weight issues and improve self image, mental health can be elevated through exercise (see last blog), the elderly can retain independence; the list goes on and all of this can be attained simply by getting moving and spending less time being sedentary.
Exercise does not need to be overly strenuous to be effective, and whilst few of us are likely to make a living through the way we look or be genetically blessed to grace the movies or magazine covers, its importance should not be overlooked. Walking the dog, exercise. Doing the gardening, exercise. Housework, decorating, walking, even shopping, all exercise. You don’t need to be lifting heavy weights, taking aerobic classes or ever set foot in a gym to undertake exercise, and when you look at the benefits, the question should not be why, but why not?