One of the perennial New Year’s resolutions—along with finally getting organized and getting out of debt—is to start exercising.
Many of us know that we should, and yet we don’t. We make the resolution, but we don’t keep it. Why? Well, we have our reasons.
There’s not enough time
Clearly, there are valid concerns about exercise. Anyone who’s too tired or too depressed or in a lot of pain needs to talk to his or her doctor before beginning to exercise.
But I think that—often when we don’t exercise—it’s because we’re humans, and humans are very good at coming up with excuses.
We’re too busy, although often not too busy to watch baseball, football, or hockey games on TV which—if you think about it—is tantamount to paying other people to exercise for you. Or in this economic crisis, we say that we’d love to exercise, but we can’t afford to join a fitness center.
We don’t know why it matters
Before we humans had “life-styles,” we didn’t exercise as such. But we, certainly, were physically active. We had to be. We moved so we could eat or to avoid becoming dinner for a bigger, faster animal, and we ate so we could move. We didn’t have labor-saving devices, and our bodies were the better for it (up to a point).
These days we don’t have to forage for our food, unless you count pushing a shopping cart up and down the aisles of a supermarket. Our bodies haven’t changed, but our lives have. We have more food than we need and less physical activity. And that creates huge problems.
Take the heart and circulatory system, for example. The number one cause of death in the United States is heart disease, and it’s well-known that
The most effective life-style measures for preventing a heart attack are quitting smoking, eating ahealthy diet, and engaging in regular physical activity. (White Paper on Heart Attack Prevention, John Hopkins Medicine, 2008.)
We don’t know how to get started
The American Heart Association, Johns Hopkins Medicine, the American College of Sports Medicine, and other authorities recommend 30 minutes or more of physical activity of moderate intensity, such as brisk walking, five days a week.
Walking is wonderful exercise. Forget a fitness center; your neighborhood streets and parks are your fitness center. You can walk alone or with a friend or with a dog. You can walk in nearly any kind of weather, except hurricanes or freezing rain. I know this from decades of walking in Seattle and in Boston.
A great way to get started is to walk 10,000 steps per day, working up to that number if you need to. Besides good walking shoes and the right clothing, all you need is a clip-on pedometer to count as you set out on your journey of 10,000 steps. More details on the 10,000 Step Program in Part 2.
Photo by nagy