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A Better You
by Jo Ann Fore

Is Exercise Really Necessary?

Intellectual awareness about the importance of exercise is not lacking. Periodicals and ezines tout numerous studies of how physical activity reduces stress, builds muscles, and improves our health. We’ve learned it’s responsible for better sleep, a healthier life and even better relationships. We read about exercise; we discuss it over dinner with friends; and we even occasionally toss the idea around with our physician. The benefits cannot be denied: Regular exercise is necessary to maintain a quality lifestyle.

Yet many people choose to live sedentary lives.


“You know that physical activity and exercise is important and you should do it,” states Michael Hyek, Ph.D. “The average person can probably name ten things that they know, or have heard, about the benefits of exercise; yet it still doesn’t motivate them to take action.”

The greatest deterrent from exercise is usually time. With a full work week, errands to run, and children to care for, who has time, right? The demands for our time scream louder than the benefits of exercise, and lack of activity wins. But the price is high.

Hyek – who started his career in Cardiac Rehab in Houston, Texas, before coming to Johnson City, TN to open a medical fitness center – explains, “Physical inactivity, itself, has been linked to a number of issues, such as heart disease, obesity, diabetes...even certain types of cancer. It doesn’t mean that just because you are physically inactive that you are going to get these diseases but there is an association…the less physically active you are, the greater your risk seems to be for those types of diseases. Certainly, the longer that you are physically inactive and the older that you get, your risk increases even more.”

Don’t let a personal catastrophe become your motivator to be physically active. We make time for what’s important to us. Exercise must become enough of a priority for you to schedule it into an otherwise hectic daily routine.

The good news is: It’s never too late to start an exercise program. Hyek recounted dramatic firsthand examples of people who had never exercised a day in their life, who had a heart attack and were fortunate to survive it. They went to cardiac rehab, started exercising and made complete lifestyle changes. They lost weight; they got their cholesterol down, and got their heart functions even better than they were before they had a heart attack. He’s seen diabetics who have gotten off their medication because they lost weight and became physically active.

Hyek, General Manager of The Wellness Center offers the following insight to someone considering beginning an exercise program:

1. Check with your doctor.
The first step is to visit your doctor, get checked out, and make sure you are healthy enough to start an exercise program.

2. Decide on the type of activity you can do.
If you are just beginning an exercise program and have done nothing previously, starting a basic walking program is probably the least expensive way to go. The general recommendations that the Surgeon General, the American Heart Association, and the American College of Sports Medicine all recommend, consistently, is to accumulate 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise on most days of the week. It doesn’t have to be continuous activity. You can go for a 10 minute walk in the morning, go for a 10 minute walk at lunch, and go for a 10 minute walk in the evening; and you have accumulated 30 minutes of activity.

3. Decide on your starting point.
There are a lot of you who don’t walk five minutes a day and you’re thinking, “Wow! There’s no way I can do 30 minutes.” You need to start with what’s reasonable for you – maybe its 15 minutes and then you build up to 30 minutes.

4. Develop consistency.
Once you are successful with your walking program, you might want to consider strength training or maybe even joining a fitness center. A lot of people buy pieces of exercise equipment with great intentions and never use them. A fitness center offers an environment of other people who share a common goal. Once you meet other people, and begin to create a social circle, people get used to seeing you there. You create a sense of accountability; other people start expecting you to be there. And the different types of activity available in a fitness center can break the monotonous routine of walking outside every day. You can choose to swim, run track, ride bikes, play basketball, do aerobics, weight train, or much more.

Exercise really is necessary. Take steps now to develop a workable program. Don’t let a sudden loss of health be your motivation to get moving.

Jo Ann Fore welcomes your comments about this article or suggestions for material you would like to see in future articles. Email her at: A Better You is published every Saturday.

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