It’s no coincidence that the generation that spends more time than any other sitting down at a computer, on a couch watching television or sitting behind the wheel of a car is also, despite all the advances in medicine and healthcare, the generation that suffers most from stress, diabetes, heart disease and obesity.
Wow, you’re thinking – that’s a bit heavy.
And so it is; and so it needs to be, in my opinion.
We know, because evidence has been showing us for years, that regular exercise can be a great stress reliever. It can boost our immune system. It can help lower our blood pressure and so cut down the risk of us having heart problems. It can help promote our levels of HDL – good chloresterol – again reducing our risk of heart diseases. It can help us to have healthy blood sugar levels so that we can prevent the onset of diabetes. It can encourage greater bone density to guard against osteoporosis. Some even say it can cut down the overall chances of our getting cancer!
We know all this, and so much more about what real, substantial regular physical exercise can offer us.
Yet so many people still sit on their couch or drive their car.
It doesn’t make sense to me.
But there’s more. Even more.
Exercise is great for improving our personal self-image, inducing a greater sense of self-worth which can have all kinds of add-on benefits, physically, psychologically and socially.
For example, regular exercisers are far less likely to suffer from such psychological problems as depression, binge eating or drinking – even insomnia. Your stress levels can actually be reduced – this is fact. What experts know as the endorphin response enables you to relax better after a spell of physical activity; and chemicals like serotonin are released from the brain which will aid your body’s recovery from any stress you might have.
We can even concentrate better on our work if we have exercised. Honestly, exercise will increase the flow of blood to the brain – bringing with it additional sugars and oxygen to help concentrate and helping clear out waste products which are dulling our thought processes.
So, when all of this information is so freely available, why do so few of us do anything about it?
Well, the number of excuses is sky high – no time because of too much work; no time because I want to be with my family; gym costs too much; no facilities anywhere near; I’m not going out in this weather or neighborhood or in this shape so people can laugh at me.
But, if you set yourself a target of three spells of 30 minute exercise a week, there is a way round each and every problem you put in your way.
You could, for instance, get off the bus two stops earlier in the morning and evening and take the stairs instead of the elevator. Brisk walking will increase your breathing and heart rate without making you hot and sweaty. You could walk to the shops occasionally instead of driving or just do the housework at ‘double time’. The point is to get yourself moving at every available opportunity.
Obviously, if you can join a gym or exercise club, then all well and good – you’ll often meet people with similar ambitions to yourself there or you could go with other members of your family. The regular payments due might also act as an incentive for regular attendance! Or you could play touch football or basketball with the kids, or start a new sport you’ve never done before. Perhaps go somewhere completely different occasionally for some exercise such as a forest, a country park or a beach. If you can couple this activity with an improved diet – giving up caffeine might be a good place to start – then your stress levels will fall as your health improves.
So, with just a few sessions of regular, sensible exercising each week, our brains are under control, our stress levels decrease, our self-image and self-discipline are enhanced and we stand a good chance of being able to buy a smaller pair of trousers next time.