When you think of exercise, you probably think of all the weight you’ll lose once you start on a program, but it’s time to stop thinking about exercise for weight loss and start thinking about it for health, longevity, and quality of life.
When we think of exercise as simply a tool to burn body fat, then what do you do when the body fat is gone? You stop exercising and the weight comes back on.
This yoyo cycle is not good and it’s not healthy for your physical health or your psychological health.
Thinking of exercise as a way to prevent disease — as much of a shocker as that seems — should be where your head is at.
Think of all of the preventative things we do everyday — we pay for car insurance, we blow out candles before we leave the house, we walk on sidewalks (not in the middle of the street). All of these actions are done to prevent something.
We could pay for car insurance for 50 years and never have an accident. That’s the price we pay for peace of mind. Our house might never burn down if I left those candles lit when I leave for the day — or it might, who knows? I may or may not get hit by a car, but I choose to walk on the sidewalk, just in case.
There are so many preventative actions we take in one day, why is it so hard for us to see exercise as a tool to prevent disease?
Think of it this way:
- You may never have an issue with blood sugar, but once you do, you will always have to watch it – wouldn’t it be nice to never have an issue in the first place? Exercise helps with this by activating certain receptors that helps pull excess glucose out of your blood – even if your insulin isn’t doing the job. It’s independent of insulin.
- You may never have an issue with your blood pressure, but once you do, you will always have to watch it. Exercise helps with this by dilating your blood vessels allowing blood to move freely, reducing your blood pressure.
- You may never have an issue with balance, but once you do, you will always have to watch it. Exercise helps by increasing your muscle strength and your bone strength, so even if you do fall, you might not break a bone.
There are two important movements right now that are working to get everyone to move more.
- Exercise is Medicine: This movement is about how to use exercise to prevent and treat many common chronic conditions. Type II diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol are 3 conditions that are treatable with one pill. Unfortunately, medications can come with side effects. Exercise can prevent and treat (for those where genetics doesn’t play a key role) many conditions, including the ones mentioned here.
- Functional Fitness: Getting physical activity doesn’t have to be about getting bigger muscles or changing your body composition, it can be a tool to keep you moving safely. It uses exercise training to mirror movements of daily life to keep you strong. Lifting boxes, squatting to pick something up, reaching overhead — these are all movements that can potentially diminish as we age. Keep your body strong to stay independent and injury free.
If you’re using exercise for weight loss — that’s awesome. Obesity alone comes with its own set of consequences and risk for chronic conditions and illness. Just know that the path you’re taking to health shouldn’t ever stop with weight loss.
Exercise should make you feel good. If it doesn’t, find something that does. Not everyone likes to run. In fact, most people don’t like to run.
Download a good book and hit the road for a good walk, go play frisbee with your kids (this requires minimal skill, but so much fun), or google a good bodyweight strength training workout.
Make time everyday for exercise – your body will thank you.