What is exercise? Odd question? Well, not really, because there are several definitions, but essentially exercise is physical activity taken to improve fitness, strength and overall health- both mental and physical.
There are four, and some people say five components in a rounded program. All are important:
Strength training to maintain strong muscles is the foundation upon which everything else is built; keeping muscle matters.
Balance and stability in part come from good core strength but also from using all muscle groups.
Flexibility and mobility from activities like yoga and pilates, amongst others.
Some will add coordination and agility as a separate category.
Finally and the one that everyone knows about is aerobic or cardiovascular training.
Why is this last on my list, you might ask?
The answer is that it is the least important, in my opinion, yet the one most talked about and pushed.
We became sedentary
It used to be so much easier to get sufficient exercise because exercise was simply part of everyday life. Before the era of mechanisation, everything, and I mean everything, required you to use your body. In that sense, exercise along with movement was hidden and emotionally effortless. It was part of everyday existence for most.
But that's not the case in the modern world. Our lives are predominantly sedentary. Exercise is no longer effortless for most because it has become a separate activity that requires that we make space in our day to do it. The majority of us find this a challenge. But it doesn't have to be. Try introducing it wherever you can. Yes, you heard it before, use the stairs, not the elevator, cycle to the gym rather than driving your car and so on.
Reintroduce little bits of exercise as part of the way you get life done.
Most of us don't live in the country with easier access to lovely walking or hiking. But that doesn't stop you from walking to the park or the shops down the road. Indeed most inner city dwellers in Europe walk more than their country living counterparts. That is in the inner city where owning a car is expensive and complicated and using public transport and your feet is the norm.
Diet + Exercise = Medicine
Just as diet is medicine, so is exercise. We all know this, so while many of us find it uncomfortable and tedious, we all recognise that we feel uplifted and much better after doing it. The doing is the challenge, not the post-exercise feeling of wellness. If you are struggling, focus on how good you will feel afterwards and mentally downplay the uncomfortable doing part. This is an excellent example of being mindful, part of the me-time cover in the book.
The benefits of daily exercise far surpass any amount of medication or medical intervention. There is probably no single medical condition that cannot be improved by exercise, impacting both physical and mental well-being.
So- regular exercise is not an optional extra!
Think about where you can add some into your day, and remember that anything more than none is a significant step to being healthier.
Keep it simple, make it fun, join others, laugh and try to hit all four components if you can.
I swim, sail, play tennis, walk when I can and practice yoga as often as possible. I do push-ups, squats and lunges for strength. That's it.