|Health is not a condition of matter, but of mind|
|Written by Justin Newman, medical student|
Start the New Year Out Right!
Get up and out of that seat—go exercise! Before the New Year becomes not so new and the resolutions begin to fade into forgetfulness, hopefully learning a bit about exercise and its benefits for your body might help to get you on the right track.
Making the lifestyle change to become more active is something no one else can do for you. The feeling of being in shape and making a positive change is addictive, but those first difficult stages and days are often the hardest to get through.
Family and friends can give encouragement. Patients whose doctors give them advice to exercise have been shown to exercise for longer periods. Also, leading by example can help those around you to be more motivated.
Even dogs that become accustomed to a daily jog with their owner have been shown to help keep exercise part of the daily routine. Making the decision to become healthier is easily done, but it takes a great deal of gumption to stay on track.
Exercise gets the heart pumping, the muscles working, releases a variety of “feel good” chemicals into the body and leads to longer, happier lives. Exercise keeps the mind sharp and protects against the loss of memory that comes with aging. A study of persons older than 65 years found those who did regular exercise three or more times per week had a significantly reduced chance of getting Alzheimer’s disease.
The immune system performs better, the heart works more effectively, blood pressure can be lowered and cholesterol levels can drop. The list of health benefits is seemingly endless. Regular exercise has been shown to reduce stress, anxiety and depression.
Exercise may prevent the development of diabetes, helps people stop smoking and is suggested to help with the prevention of and recovery from colon, breast and prostate cancer. There is no shortage of reasons to exercise.
The basic premise of exercise is to get the blood flowing and to keep it going. Even people who have physically demanding jobs benefit from exercising. Exercise makes the body function at a higher level and for a longer period of time than occurs with most work chores, so it helps the body in ways an active job can’t.
Having a schedule of days to exercise can help maintain the motivation. Even marking on a calendar the days you have worked out can help to give an accurate estimate of the amount of exercise you are getting. If you are walking, running or riding a bike, you may want to write down the time you spent exercising—tracking the amount of time you were able to do the activity will let you track your success.
There are also a number of small changes you can incorporate into your daily life that can help make a change. Always take the stairs. Park your car at the far end of the parking lot. Turn off the TV and go for a walk instead.
Even if you already exercise, set goals for yourself that give you something to work towards. Get into the habit of making the time for yourself—it will pay off now and in the future!
Justin Newman is originally from Holyoke and is attending medical school at the University Of Chicago Pritzker School Of Medicine.