Exercise Is NOT a Dirty WordMany words in the English language qualify as “dirty,” but exercise shouldn’t be one of them. The health benefits are enormous. People lose fat and gain muscle when they exercise on a regular basis. Their cholesterol lowers, their circulation improves, which decreases their risk of heart attack and stroke, and exercising can even lengthen a person’s life.
So why do many of us hate something that makes our lives better? Some people will tell you that exercise isn’t fun, that it’s hard, and that they don’t have time. Rather than spout excuses, they should find a form of exercise that is fun for them and carve the time out of their busy lives. Besides the previously mentioned health benefits, if they don’t overdo it, they’ll find that exercise leaves them happier and more well-rested. Yes, happier.
Exercise equals endorphins. Endorphins are those lovely polypeptide compounds that we release during strenuous exercise that make us feel good and are, therefore, fun. Now, I fully admit that when it’s cold outside and the wind chill makes it feel even colder, I have to convince myself that I should exercise rather than sip some hot coffee. What convinces me? If I walk my miles, I will be rewarded with a biological treat—a sense of well-being or happiness. Thank you, endorphins. It’s much like having a couple Lindt truffles without the calories.
Exercise also guarantees a better night’s sleep. Sleep is important to our overall well-being and happiness, too. When I don’t get a good night’s sleep, I am cranky and generally no fun to be around. I tend to see everything around me in a more negative light. The days I exercise, I sleep more soundly and wake up refreshed.
The key to success with making exercise a vital part of your life is to ease into it. A couple of years ago, I started my walking regimen at fifteen to twenty minutes in my neighborhood. It didn’t require equipment other than some good running shoes (better cushioning than athletic shoes made for walking). I won’t lie to you. Those fifteen minutes weren’t easy. I was forty pounds heavier and my knees and ankles hurt. Slowly, I increased my mileage and pace, and now I walk between three and four miles five days a week. It takes an hour out of my day. I view that time as an hour for me—where I know I’m being good to myself. Yup, that’s the WNP theme for this month’s blogs.
So how do you get your endorphin fix? Do you swim, run, rollerblade? Do you dance? Do you wii? It’s all good.
Barring illnesses such as the head cold currently making her miserable (thanks to her husband who will here forth be known as Typhoid Wesley), Maureen Hardegree completes her exercise quota for the day, then writes. Her story “A Tale of Two Kitties” will be included in BelleBooks’ tentatively titled Critters of Mossy Creek, which is due in bookstores in 2009. http://www.maureenhardegree.com/