A recent study found that not exercising regularly carries with it a risk similar to that of smoking two packs of cigarettes a day. And yet, another study shows that only about 10% of Americans are getting the exercise that is recommended.
In our modern world, exercise can be a challenging component to include. In the past, we would get the exercise that allowed us to be healthy from our normal activities of daily living. These would include hunting, gathering, walking for long distances, running for prey, running from predators, playing with the members of our tribe, and others. But today, we’ve taken away most of these forms of activity. Most of us don’t hunt for our food, or have to run away from predators, or walk long distances. We spend most our time sitting instead. Sitting to eat, sitting to commute, sitting to work, sitting to enjoy time off, and sitting even more. All of that sitting is very bad for our health.
It’s vital to our health that we move. Movement keeps joints healthy, reduces inflammation and arthritis, burns calories, keeps muscles strong, strengthens bones, helps to prevent diabetes, cancer, and plenty of other diseases. It’s good for our heart, our lungs, and all of our internal organs. It improves the performance of the brain and the rest of the nerve system.
So what constitutes good exercise or movement? The answer is quite simple. Find an activity that you enjoy. And there are many. Dr. Paul works out with a CrossFit style of movement, because he enjoys the intensity of it, and the varied movement structure. But it is not the best, nor an appropriate form of movement for everyone.
There are several keys to making exercise or movement a part of your life.
1) Consistent beats perfect.
Don’t wait for the best workout plan, or the perfect one, or the one that ticks all the boxes you think it should. There is no such thing as the perfect plan, and even if you somehow found it, if you didn’t do it consistently, it wouldn’t work. Doing something that isn’t perfect consistently will get you far closer to your goal then not doing anything at all.
2) Activity you enjoy.
I can’t emphasize this one enough. Again, you will not do a plan you don’t enjoy. You’ll find excuses, you’ll hate going, you’ll make other priorities, and then it won’t happen. It doesn’t matter if all you can do is go for a walk. That’s better than nothing. Martial arts, dance, tai chi in the park, climbing, table tennis, golf, whatever! Find something you like, or at the least, something you’re willing to do, and do it consistently.
3) Start easy.
You don’t need to be an expert your first time out. No one is. Give yourself room to improve and approach each time like it’s new. See what you can learn from this time. I recently started taking Aikido, and this is almost like my mantra. I’m not looking to be the best martial artist. I’m simply seeing what I can learn each time.
If you have any concerns about starting any kind of movement or exercise consult with your health care provider.