“There is no drug in current or prospective use that holds as much promise for sustained health as a lifetime program of physical exercise.”
IN 1982, Dr. Walter Bortz II, a university professor of medicine, wrote the above words. Over the past 23 years, numerous health experts and organizations have quoted these words in books, magazines, and Web pages. Evidently, today Dr. Bortz’s advice is just as current as it was in 1982, and it is still widely accepted as sound and relevant. So we do well to ask ourselves, ‘Am I getting enough exercise?’
Some have erroneously concluded that they do not need to exercise because they are not overweight. Obese and overweight people stand to benefit greatly from a regular exercise program, but even if you are not overweight, an increase in physical activity is very likely to improve your overall health and help prevent serious diseases, including certain types of cancer. Also, recent studies show that physical activity can reduce anxiety and may even prevent depression. The fact is, many who are slim suffer from mental and emotional stress, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and other conditions that are aggravated by a lack of enough exercise. Hence, whether you are overweight or not, if you lead a sedentary life, you do well to increase your level of physical activity.
What Is a Sedentary Life-Style?
How do you know if you are active enough? There are various opinions on what constitutes a sedentary life-style. However, most health experts agree on general guidelines that apply to most people. One explanation used by several health organizations is that you are sedentary if you (1) do not exercise or engage in some vigorous activity for at least 30 minutes three times a week, (2) do not move from place to place while engaging in leisure activities, (3) rarely walk more than 100 yards during the course of a day, (4) remain seated most of your waking hours, (5) have a job that requires little physical activity.
Are you getting enough exercise? If not, you can start doing something about it today. ‘But I just don’t have the time,’ you may say. When you get up in the morning, you are simply too tired. At the start of the day, you hardly have enough time to get yourself ready and get to your job. Then, after a long day, again you feel too tired to exercise and have too many other things to do.
Or perhaps you are among the many who start to exercise but quit after just a few days because they find it too strenuous, perhaps even feeling sick after exercising. Others shy away from exercise because they think that a good fitness program must include grueling routines of weight lifting, lengthy daily runs covering many miles, and carefully choreographed stretching sessions.—See the box “Lifting and Stretching.”
And then there is the expense and the perceived inconvenience. Joggers need suitable clothing and shoes. For strength training you need weights or special exercise machines. A sports-club membership can be costly. Travel to the gym can be time-consuming. Still, none of the above need prevent you from leading a physically active life and reaping the health benefits.