Watching my little man play, I realise it’s natural for us to be incredibly active. Ben seems to have boundless energy. He wakes up full of beans, eager to discover as much of the world as he can each day.
Our lives as adults, in contrast, have generally become very inactive. Most of us drive to work in our cars, sit at a desk in front of a PC practically all day, and then drive back home and sit in front of the TV or some other digital distraction (cellphone, tablet, laptop…?) for the better part of the evening.
I read somewhere recently that scientists are now saying that our sedentary lives may be even more dangerous to our health than our poor diets. They usually go hand in hand of course, so I’m sure it’s difficult to tell.
Certainly, I’ve seen this theory in practice. I knew a wonderful old lady who admitted to having the most terrible diet, consisting mostly of white bread, snacks and coca cola. She also was a chain smoker. She believed her saving grace was that she was a dance teacher. She did indeed live to a ripe old age. She wasn’t well for the last 10 years of her life, mind you, but she always maintained that she was alive because of the dancing and her positive mindset.
Now I’m certainly not advocating that we follow her lead on the smoking and poor diet – please don’t get me wrong. What I am saying, is that, including some form of exercise, ideally something you love doing, into your daily routine, can literally, save your life. Or should we say, extend your life. Okay, if you don’t buy either of those… how about… Give you a whole new lease on life?
Without a doubt, and science has proven this for yonks, doing physical exercise regularly, particularly the kind that gets your heart rate up, simply heaps health benefits onto you.
As you get fitter, you’ll notice your energy levels increasing, your weight decreasing, your skin glowing, your muscles toning. You’ll be happier, more excited about life, you may even find your sex life improving.
What’s happening inside the body is even more interesting (if you’re into health). As you move, your lymphatic system and cardiovascular system get the much needed boost they need to pump lymph and blood around the body faster. This means that your immune system improves and, most importantly, your heart, that very special muscle that keeps you alive each day, strengthens. Your lungs, just as important for basic survival, also get a workout as you workout.
Yeah, yeah, we all know this stuff. We’ve heard it all before, I hear you say. But who has the time?
We have to work. Take care of our children. We have to shop, cook, clean house, relax, sleep. And there go our 24 hours a day.
Well, some do, some don’t. The thing is, we all have the same 24 hours a day, and we each choose how to allocate that time. I know, I know, there are some periods in our life where we feel we are not choosing. There are times in our life, particularly when our children are very young, that we feel we just don’t have the power of choice anymore, our hours appear to be robbed from us.
But here’s what I’ve found. If you really, truly, in your heart of hearts, down to the very soles of your feet, realise how important it is for you to get daily exercise, you’ll do it. It’ll become like breathing. It’ll become second nature.
Here’s a few tips on how you can make MOVEMENT part of your every day life.
Play with your children.
Walk wherever you can.
Or run if walking’s too slow for you.
Walk up stairs instead of taking the lift or escalator as often as you can.
Get a bicycle and cycle with your spouse, friends or children. Or some roller blades. Or a skate board if you’re really daring.
If you’re the competitive type, find a team and play a sport.
If you’re the outdoorsy type, go hiking, or swimming, or canoeing or something.
If you’re adventurous, why not try surfing or kite-surfing.
If you can afford it, try Yoga. Or Pilates. Or join a gym.
If you have Wii, get Wii Fit.
Get a rebounder and jump while you watch TV.
Play music while you do housework. Make it fun.
Try a few dance lessons (particularly great if your partner is game to try this with you -relationship building while you have fun).
Or just put on your favourite tracks and dance in your lounge.
If you have space in your home, try table tennis. It’s more of a workout than you think.
Gardening could be just the thing if you like beauty around you.
Most importantly, if you want it to stick, find an activity that you find fun. The best are those where you don’t even notice you’re exercising. There are all kinds of activities out there, and I’ve no doubt we can all find one that suits us perfectly. As Nike advised: Just do it.
I read a quote many years back that stuck with me – I think it was anyonymous:
They spent their health to get their wealth
and then with might and main, they turned about
and spent their wealth to get their health again.
Let’s not fall into this trap.