By Elaine Dembe
Sometimes when I begin to explain the need for regular exercise a patient will reply, “I haven’t got time to exercise.” I’ll admit, finding time is a challenge for most people who are juggling work and family responsibilities. But, nevertheless, we need to look after ourselves and put some of our own needs first if we’re going to stay healthy.
After all, fitness is the best way to reduce the everyday buildup of stress; even 10 minutes of exercise can reduce that pressure-cooker feeling inside. Even if you’re out of shape, it doesn’t matter whether you get fitter in eight weeks, 30 weeks or 52 weeks. The most important thing is to get out and move your body!
Here are some of the typical myths and excuses that I have heard:
Myth 1: I don’t need any exercise. I get plenty running after the grandchildren, going up and down stairs, and doing laundry.
Truth. Your active lifestyle is very good but not enough. Stop-and-start activities like housework elevate your heart rate for a few minutes, but not for the recommended 30 continuous minutes. Remember: you need sustained, intense cardiovascular activity to reap fitness benefits.
Myth 2: If I exercise, I might not have enough energy left for sex.
Truth. Wow, have I got good news for you! Exercise enhances sexuality, because when you exercise, you have more energy overall. Physically fit people report less fatigue and more stamina during sexual activity. They also have greater self-esteem and thus feel more comfortable with their bodies.
Myth 3: I’m too tired to exercise when I come home from work or being out with friends.
Truth. You are confusing mental fatigue with physical fatigue. Your brain may be tired from thinking all day, but your body still has a lot of life in it. Lack of oxygen is one major cause of fatigue. A brisk walk in the fresh air reduces that dragged-out feeling and gives you more energy to enjoy the evening.
Myth 4: I only have so many heartbeats left and I don’t want to waste them on exercise.
Truth. Regular, moderate exercise strengthens the heart and lowers the resting heart rate. People who are fit often have heart rates as low as 45 to 50 beats per minute. A sedentary person’s heart will beat 75 to 80 beats per minute. The result? In just one day, an unfit person’s heart must beat 40,000 times more than a conditioned person’s heart. In one year, that’s a workload of 15 million extra beats!
Myth 5: Aren’t people who exercise more prone to injuries?
Truth. Injuries occur from not using your head when you use your body. Doing too much too soon, before muscles and joints have a chance to adapt to new stresses placed on them, will cause injuries. The key to safe exercise is to start slowly, warm up the muscles and build up fitness gradually.
If you need more motivation, remember regular exercise also helps with sleeping, cancer prevention, recovery from illness and overall longevity. So why not make your body a younger place to live that’s fit and healthy?
Dr. Dembe, DC is a Toronto-based chiropractor and wellness practitioner who works with individuals and their families to improve their overall health and well-being.