Why is exercise important?
For most people, taking or indulging in exercise tends to be a reactive thing.
That is, there has to be something that happens in their life that forces them to re-assess what they are doing. Something happens that makes them realize that they need to exercise more as a way of changing things that are going wrong in their life.
For instance, many people come to a point in their life where they finally acknowledge what they have, in reality, known for a long time, that they are overweight or obese. Perhaps more importantly, having finally accepted that their weight truly does represent a problem, they actually make a conscious decision to do something about it. So, they go on a weight loss diet of some description and, for most people, taking exercise is part of the weight loss process.
The saddest part is that, if such overweight or obese people had regulated their calorie intake and taken regular exercise beforehand, they would never have got to be in the state that necessitates such drastic action.
Other people might decide to begin exercising in an effort to slow down the aging process, often at a point in their lives where they finally understand that the arrival of the grim reaper is a lot nearer than they previously imagined.
This is a good thing, but it is also a classic case of ‘better late than never’. The fact is that if people who take up exercise late in life had only done so twenty or thirty years earlier, their efforts to delay the inevitable would have been more effective.
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There lies the point about exercise that many people ignore. Exercise should not be something that is done creatively, at a point where it has to be done in an attempt to reverse something that has already happened.
Exercise should be viewed as a proactive step that everyone can indulge in as one of the best preventative measures that they can take.
Increased physical activity will increase your heart rate as well as strengthening all of the muscles of your body. The heart is after all only a muscle and all muscles get stronger the more often they are worked.
This resultant increase in heart activity will automatically speed up the blood circulation throughout your body, which will in turn deliver increased oxygen and nutrients to all your organs.
Regular exercise helps to increase the capacity of your lungs to absorb and utilize oxygen, is effective at reducing body fat, and lowers the levels of sugars and ‘bad’ cholesterol in the blood.
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Some sensible precautions
Exercise is good for you, but you need to make sure that you are in a condition to handle whatever you plan to do before you start. Especially if you have not taken regular exercise for some time, it makes sense to get a thorough physical check-up before you begin with any exercise regime. Tell your physician why you are having the check-up and what you plan to do, because they may have some advice or input that will help you rationalize your plans. Understand also that the majority of people who have not exercised for some time should start off slowly, no matter what form of exercise they plan to follow.
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Trying to do too much, too quickly could potentially be even more harmful than doing nothing at all, because the strain that it places on your body may be too much. The risk of injury or even worse is that much greater if you try to do things too quickly. Another thing that you should do before beginning any regime of exercise is to acknowledge and accept your age and general physical condition. While we all like to believe that we can still do things that we could do in our teens and twenties, when you reach the second half of your life the truth is, you simply cannot do what you could at one time.
Accept that and try to avoid seeing it as a challenge that has to be overcome. Doing so is likely to lead you to try to do too much, and again, that can significantly increase the risk of injury.
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Getting injured is one of the surest ways of stopping your exercise program dead in its tracks, so the increased risk inherent in doing too much, too soon is really not worth it.
Walking is a good start
When was the last time that you walked anywhere?
I am not talking here about hiking over mountains and trudging down into deep sided valleys. I am not referring to route marches either. Think about it. When was the last time that you made the effort to walk, rather than jumping in the car or hopping on the subway train?
Walking is one of the easiest and most effective forms of aerobic exercise (exercise that increases your heart rate and therefore your blood circulation) that there is and it is something that is available to everyone at no cost. In fact, walking will actually save you money, as well as helping to protect the world that we live in.
It saves money on your gasoline bill and reduces the amount of automobile generated pollutants that are pumped into the atmosphere that we all breathe, for example. Taking a regular walk helps lower the risk of heart disease, osteoporosis and some cancers, as well as reducing your body fat and lowering your blood pressure. Unlike many other forms of exercise (e.g. jogging), walking is low impact and low intensity, so the risk of injury is minimized as well.
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If you walk a couple of kilometers to the store instead of taking the bus or subway, then you do yourself some good as well as keeping a dollar or two in your pocket.
Walking is something that you can do anytime, anywhere and at absolutely zero cost. All that you need are a pair of comfortable shoes, preferably with cushioned soles to protect your feet and leather uppers (or ones made of other natural materials such as canvas) that will allow your feet to breathe.
Many modern athletic shoes are constructed entirely of synthetic materials (generally, some form of plastic) and wearing them therefore leads to an unhealthy build up of sweat. This can lead to fungal conditions like athletes foot, and having such a condition would seriously curtail your exercise program, so wearing the right shoes from the beginning is extremely important.
Perhaps you think that you have no time or opportunity to walk?
Let me tell you, that is just an excuse.
Everyone has the opportunity to walk if they are willing to make minor adjustments to the way they live their everyday life.