Exercise is just one of the Morter HealthSystem Six Essentials of Health. Unless you are training for competition, the purpose of exercise is to benefit your whole body. It’s muscle groups, not just specific muscles such as biceps and abdominals, which long for movement.
Many of us need to make a conscious effort to give our bodies the exercise they deserve. Fortunately, some of the most beneficial exercise is available at home, and it doesn’t cost extra. We can walk, stretch, and add a little resistance for muscles to overcome right at home. We don’t need expensive equipment to exercise. We have the great outdoors for walking. Inside, we can find elbowroom to bend and stretch. Canned foods or books can serve as convenient starter “weights.”
Recall the three main health-enhancing benefits of exercise: improved muscle tone and elasticity, enhanced cardiovascular efficiency, and reintegrated neuromuscular communication. Despite all of the complicated exercise programs promoted by books, CDs, and fitness clinics, walking is the exercise that meets all three criteria with the greatest ease.
Two important reminders
One: Keep in mind the exercise paradox. We need exercise to be healthy and fit, but exercise can’t make you healthy and exercise can’t assure health. Health is an inside job. It’s a whole-body condition. The objective is for your exercise to be appropriate for the level of health of your internal environment. Before you begin any exercise program, check with your health-care professional. This is important for everyone, and it’s particularly important if you are a card-carrying couch potato, a high-protein addict, or if you work up a sweat only when the air-conditioner goes off.
Two: Select an exercise that is enjoyable to you. It doesn’t make any difference if your cousin enjoys running fifteen miles a week, or your boss is a CrossFit nut. The type of exercise you choose is a personal thing. If you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, you won’t do it very long. If you prefer to exercise alone, that’s fine. If you prefer a group setting, that’s fine too. The big thing is to do something, and do something that’s fun. We have enough opportunities in this world to build character by doing things we don’t enjoy. You’ll get the greatest benefit, both physical and psychological, when pleasure and enthusiasm are active ingredients in your exercise!