Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I Never "Exercise"

As a chiropractor, I am always encouraging people to take control of their health, especially with food and exercise.  But I have a confession.  Rarely do I "exercise".  For me and for many people, there is a deep emotional reaction to the word "exercise" which causes some to shudder as they are flooded with thoughts of dragging themselves to the gym or locking themselves in the basement with the latest home exercise machine.  Sure, I lift weights, ride a spin bike, do yoga, usually all at a gym and often ride 150+ miles a week on my bicycle, but I never consider it "exercise", that's probably why I enjoy every minute of it.

Let me clarify: there is a big difference between dragging myself out to do something I dread ("exercise"), and riding my bike or doing the things to make me a faster bike rider.  That's all fun and games.  You see, I am extremely fortunate that early in life I found something that I love to do that will also give me all the benefits of exercise, without having to call it that.  So I tell people that I rarely "exercise" and instead look forward each bike ride or trip to the gym because it makes me better at doing one other thing that I do love: ride bikes!  That's the "trick" I play on myself, and you should too.

When I mention the "E" word, (which is usually in the same category as other words that we refer to with only their first letter, and capitalized nonetheless), most people glaze over and say "oh yes, exercise is good for me".  And then they go right on for days or months or years without ever breaking a sweat.  Of course all the reasons apply like no time, it's too hot, it's too cold, it's too boring, gyms are too expensive, etc.  Well of course exercise is boring and inconvenient!  If it wasn't we wouldn't be having this conversation.  But here is the point that I want to make: instead of forcing yourself to "exercise", find something that you enjoy and DO IT and all the things that will help you do it better.  For me, it all revolves around cycling, for you it might involve golfing, chasing grandkids, gardening, or just moving throughout your day without aches, pains, or immobility.  But in the back of my mind I know that as I age, this game I play revolving around riding bikes is paying huge dividends towards my overall health, wealth, and happiness that I will benefit from in every area of my life, for the rest of my life.

No matter what you like to do, you can look at your "exercise" activities as ways that will make you better at what you love, and they will help you continue to do it better as you age than had you done nothing at all.  A good program would consist of basic strength training with weights and aerobic exercise with stretching as great filler for days you simply can't make it to the gym or get outside.  But don't mistake the fact that you should be doing something on a regular basis.  Switching it up from day to day not only keeps you from getting bored or burned out, it also helps round out your program so that your fitness isn't just one dimensional.

In case you need a few factoids today about how critical exercise is for your health and longevity, here they are:

  • Obvious reasons include: lower blood pressure, decreased resting heart rate, lower body fat, etc.
  • According to a recent study, men can live 14 years longer if they exercise, keep their waste down, and don't smoke.
  • Those men who make those changes also lower their risk of heart disease events by 59%, risk of cardiovascular disease mortality by 77%, and risk of all-cause mortality by 69% compared to those who didn't exercise. 
Those are some pretty awesome "side effects" to just riding bicycles and the doing the other things that help me ride longer and stronger!  So the next time someone asks you about "exercise", just smile and tell them that you gave it up long ago and tell them what you do instead!

Dr. D

1 comment:

  1. well... yes
    I have a similar disdain for the "T Word"


    if I ride my bike
    I am just riding my bike
    it is not "training"
    but... it is exercise