We all know we need to exercise. We hear it all the time. But do we really understand why? We know that exercise helps us loose weight, and it helps us to be strong but do we understand how? Do we really understand ALL the benefits of exercise? More importantly, do we understand all the risks when we don’t exercise?

There is so much to understand about our bodies and our health as it relates to exercise and physical activity. Let me start with a general overview.

Your job: Really think about what you are reading as you read through this article. We have heard so much information about our need for exercise that I think we simply block much of it out. It becomes a lot of “wha whaaaa wha wha wahaaaa” for us, much like what all the adults sounded like on the Peanut’s cartoons.


We think ya ya, I know all this stuff and some day I will get to it. As you read this, stop and consider what you are reading, how it applies to you, and what that means for your overall health, your well being, your life.

Yes, exercise helps us to loose weight and to maintain a healthy weight because if we burn more calories than we consume, we begin to burn our fat stores. This, however, is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg! Exercise increases our metabolic rate, which means not only do we burn up calories and fat while exercising, we also burn more calories and fat stores after we exercise because our metabolism is raised and stays that way for some time. Plus, as we exercise, we build more muscle mass, and muscle has a high metabolic rate.

Did you know that for every pound of muscle you add to your body that you burn an average of 33 calories a day just sitting there at rest?

Other benefits of regular exercise include: increased energy, improved sleep, improved mood, a stronger healthier heart, stronger denser bones, a reduced risk of many degenerative diseases such as heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, various cancers, including both breast cancer and colon cancer, adult onset diabetes, depression, anxiety, decreased risks of stress related illness due to elevated levels of certain stress hormones, helps keep joints and ligaments healthy, and increases flexibility. We have heard this information over and over again, yet the astonishing statistics are that only 32.5% of adults engage in regular leisure-time physical activity. And a whopping 36% of adults engage in no leisure-time physical activity at all. The longer we go without regular physical activity the harder it is to engage in. Our bodies get weaker, less flexible, and unfortunately less and less healthy, which means energy levels drop, depression can set in, and we find ourselves on a downward spiral. There is no quick fix! No really…There is no quick fix! We have to start where we are and begin to do the work to regain our physical health and fitness.

In his book Margin, Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives, Richard A. Swenson, M.D. states the following:

“Gone are the old infectious foes, but replacing them are even more frustrating and, in some ways, more frightening enemies. They are variously known as “the new morbidity,” “the disease of civilization,” and “the disease of lifestyle.” These ailments come as a result of our bad and our poor choices. The surgeon general has bemoaned “an epidemic of poor health practices.” The Center for Disease Control estimates that more than 50 percent of all deaths are related to lifestyle choices, while Emory University’s Health Policy Project explains that “64.7% of the years of life lost, before age 65 result from preventable deaths.

In many ways the practice of medicine was more rewarding when patients were victimized by external tragedies than it is now when patients so often victimize themselves. As a result of this new morbidity, the heroic nature of medical practice has all but disappeared. A romanticized past envisions doctors risking their lives by working all hours to save a community from smallpox. Today, the vision has deteriorated into business-minded physicians taking care of patients with self-induced illnesses who live self-destructive lives, who expect to get well now, and who threaten to sue if they don’t.”


Stop, and reread that last sentence again. REALLY absorb it, and its implications.


“Today, the vision has deteriorated into business-minded physicians taking care of patients with self-induced illnesses who live self-destructive lives, who expect to get well now, and who threaten to sue if they don’t.”

Where to start??

There are five aspects of physical fitness: cardiorespiratory endurance, muscle strength, muscle endurance, flexibility, and body composition.

All five of these areas are important; however, cardiovascular (or cardiorespiratory) health is by far the most important and first area we need to focus on in terms of physical activity.

Cardiorespiratory endurance and conditioning is achieved through aerobic activity.

Click here to read the article: AEROBIC EXERCISE


“The real battle over starting to exercise takes place in your mind, not your body”

Quote ~ Dr. Don R. Powell from his book: A year of Health Tips

Kick out the Stinking Thinking!

First, you might consider dropping the word exercise. For many of us it has become a dirty 8 letter word. The thought of exercise just makes us want to hide in bed and pull the covers over our head. Try calling it something else like “physical activity” and thinking of it that way too. I know this sounds like head games, because it is. One of the first things we need to change, if we want to create new habits and adopt a healthy lifestyle, is how we think about it. Our actions are a direct response to our thoughts. In other words, what we think about something indicates how we respond to it. If I think EXERCISE is a nasty, uncomfortable thing that I HAVE to do, how long do you think I will do it? For a while, maybe, but it will not become a life habit which is our goal. Why would I incorporate something I deplore into the person I am? So, yes, I am talking partially about head games. We must first find physical activity that we enjoy, and then learn to think of it as enjoyable, not as a task that we must perform.

  • Key Concept: New habits come as we kick out the stinking thinking, and begin to incorporate new things into our daily life in a conscious and purposeful way.

When to exercise?

Look at your day and be realistic. What will work best for you?

Try not to engage in strenuous aerobic activity right before bedtime as it could be too stimulating and make falling to sleep difficult. There should be a three hour gap between this type of exercise and the time you go to bed. Although a nice gentle walk before bedtime is a wonderful idea.

Make a plan, set a date, and make it a priority. Pretend like this is a date with a very important person for a major life changing event that could make a life or death difference for you……..because that is exactly what it is.

Be flexible and have a back up plan. It is very important to have a plan and keep it. It is equally important to be flexible. Life will happen. Do not let your plan fall off the table for every thing that pops up. However, there will be things that come up that are simply unavoidable. When this happens, have a back up plan. If you can’t exercise at the designated time, do not just cancel your date, reschedule it. Leave room in your day and schedule so that you are able to move things around. Leave a little wiggle room, a little margin. But that is a topic for another day.

Find creative ways to work more physical activity into your daily routine.

  • Take a brisk walk during your lunch break at work.
  • Create your own “step-master” by walking up and down the stairs for a great workout.
  • Walk to work or ride your bike.
  • Walk to the grocery store, hair salon, auto parts store, wherever it is that you need to go.
  • Take a walk every Saturday morning to get your morning paper.

How do I stay committed?

Start by finding activities that are fun and enjoyable to you. If you haven’t been active in a while, it is quite possible that there is no physical activity that excites you currently. Then pick something you think you would enjoy if you felt stronger, had more energy and more time. These things will come. Yes, even more time will come. As you get stronger and healthier, you will likely require less sleep; have more energy to get things done in less time, and more energy at the end of your day, therefore, more time!

get up


Set a goal and make a plan. (There will be more on goal setting at a later time) For now make sure your goal is specific and realistic. Be consistent yet flexible.

Add variety. No matter how enjoyable the activity, it will eventually become monotonous over time if you don’t have some variety.

Develop a support network. Give some thought to what kind of support you would like and then find people that will support you in these various ways. You may want to find a partner or partners to join with you in physical activity. Perhaps someone that will call and encourage you, or someone that will support you by watching your children or helping in some other way to make it possible for you to be successful. A supportive network is invaluable.

As I stated earlier, make time in your schedule. Plan a date and write it in your calendar. Protect this time. It is ever so valuable!!

Be flexible. Have an alternate plan if your buddy can’t make it, the weather isn’t cooperating or you absolutely have no choice but to reschedule.

Keep a record of your goals and accomplishments and reward yourself. How about:

  • a relaxing bath with candlelight and music
  • “time off” to do something you enjoy: read a book, scrapbook, pinstripe your car, any hobby, craft, or project you love to do or have been itching to get at.
  • Attend an event, movie, concert, play, sporting event or any activity that you enjoy. (Bonus: Make it a walking activity, like visiting the zoo. This will add a little more fun physical activity to your life. Take your family, make it a family fun day, and help your family begin to incorporate healthy physical activity into their personal lifestyle. Go with a friend and make it a day out. Go alone and make it a retreat.)
  • Hire a babysitter and use that time for something you enjoy.
  • Purchase something you would enjoy: a new CD, a new exercise DVD, a book
  • Visit with a friend you haven’t seen in some time
  • Given our generally busy schedules, a terrific gift or reward is simply a chunk of time to use how you please.
  • Get a massage
  • Get a manicure, pedicure or both
  • Pack a healthy, delicious lunch and have a picnic at the park or beach

Be creativeIdea bulb guy

How often should I exercise?

Ideally, you want to move every day, and shoot for aerobic activity 4-6 times per week for 30-60 minutes per day. However, start where you are and build from there. Remember we are going for true sustainable lifestyle changes. This is not a sprint, where you poor it on for a while and then stop. We are working toward the long haul. Start and build. Where ever you are now, add some physical activity. Then push yourself to continue to add until you reach a healthy goal of 4-6 days per week. And forget the “no pain no gain” rule. It’s dumb. You don’t need to be in pain to be active and healthy. As a matter of fact, you don’t want to be in pain. Yes, push yourself off the couch and get started. Yes, push yourself to add more activity until you are leading an active life. But skip the pain! Unless of course, we are talking about the pain of change, then, suck it up and persevere. Remember change requires change!

Add activity to your life even if it is not aerobic.

  • Park your car farther out in the parking lot, save dings to your car doors, and get in some physical activity.
  • Take the stairs rather than escalators or elevators.

Choose active activities over sedentary ones.

  • Meet a friend at the park or zoo rather than the local coffee house, and stroll as you chat.
  • Find a local garden walk.
  • Take a photo journey. Go someplace beautiful, walk around and take pictures. There are a bazillion things you could do with a collection of beautiful photos.
  • Get a phone with a headset, and chat on the phone while you exercise.
  • When you walk to your mailbox, walk a little further, to the end of your street maybe.
  • If you are out shopping, take a few minutes and walk a little.
  • Take up an active hobby, such as gardening or a sport like golf, and forget the cart.
  • I am a big proponent of turning the TV off, however, you could exercise while watching TV. Ditch the remote control and actually walk over and change the channel. Okay, I know I am getting into dangerous territory when I start messing with TV time. But lets be honest, TV can suck up a lot of time. If you want change………Yes that’s right…. you have to change!

A few GOOD TIPS to remember!

Wear shoes and clothing appropriate to your activity and the weather conditions. Make sure you wear footwear that fits properly, is comfortable, and has proper support.

Keep shoes and clothing in your car and readily available so that you are ready for fun opportunities to engage in physical activity.

Plan for holidays and special events. Don’t let them catch you off guard.

Have a plan to continue your active lifestyle when you travel for work or pleasure.

Plan for changes in your schedule.

Exercise with music. It is fun, relaxing, and energizing. Studies show that people who exercise with music, exercise longer, more often, and stick to their plan with more success.

Don’t over due it. Remember, we are not shooting for pain; we are headed toward real, sustainable lifestyle change.

I don’t have the TIME !!!


This is the biggest reason people sight for not engaging in physical activity. Time will not just fall into your lap. You will need to make this a priority and carve out the time. Some ways to do this:

Get up a little earlier. As you dedicate time to physical activity, and gain greater health, this will become easier.

Turn off the TV: If you must see a particular show, record it and watch it later without the commercials. Skipping the commercials will add a chuck of time back into your schedule all by itself. Bonus: You won’t be enticed by all those commercials for ice cream, soda and bags of unhealthy snacks.

Delegate something to someone else in your household to free up a block of time that you can commit to your physical activity goals.

Hire something done that will free up some time.

Leave something undone. Yes, really, it’s okay. I’m sure there is something that you can leave undone without your world coming crashing down around you and your family.

Hire a babysitter to come in for 1 hour a day, five days a week so that you can exercise. This doesn’t have to cost a fortune. You don’t need a professional, bonded nanny service if you are going to be at home. Just a neighbor child.

Do a buddy plan. Swap time with a neighbor and gain a support partner at the same time. You take the children for an hour while she exercises. She takes the children for the next hour so that you can exercise. Bonus: the kids love it because they get to play with their friends.

Take turns with your spouse. One watches the children while the other exercises. Better yet, do the buddy plan, with the neighbors, only do it as a couple, so that both couples get a chance to work out together.

Use your lunch break at work.

Make it important! If you make it a high priority, you will create the time in your schedule.

Last of all:Success

Remember, you are creating a new habit. It will not happen overnight. You will do well some weeks and fall apart others. Just get up and keep on keeping on.

It’s not perfection that will get you there. It’s persistence and perseverance!


Note: It is advised that you seek the advice of a doctor before beginning any new exercise program, especially if you have been physically sedentary, are very over weight, or in generally poor health.
You should stop ALL exercise if you feel faint, dizzy, light headed or short of breath.

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