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The shuffle is so worth the hustle

What’s the point of exercise you may ask.

Well let me tell you, even us dietitians have kinks in our armors, we have our weak spots too. Mine is definitely exercise… if I have to be honest, I HAAATE it. I really do…I’m not good at it, I don’t consider it fun & many people have tried & failed to convince me otherwise.

However, the fact that exercise is good for us is undisputed. This has been a well established fact since Plato was around, he wrote:

“A lack of activity destroys the good condition of every human being while movement and methodical physical exercise save and preserve it”

To motivate me, as much as you, here is why exercise really is important & why we should all try to find a new passion for it.

So exercise is in. But why?

  • Exercise controls our weight

I put this one first because we all know its true & there is strong consensus with little or no conflicting scientific research. When we exercise we burn calories, the more we exercise, the more we burn, as simple as that. Exercise also increases our metabolic rate, so we burn our calories more efficiently too. Most people say that they simply don’t have the time for exercise, I was one of those people. The truth is that if you really want to, you can find the time. It doesn’t have to be a long time, when it comes to weight control, consistency is key.

  • Exercise helps us sleep better

Probably because you’ll be so exhausted when you’re done with it, my cynical self snorted when I came across this fact. As it turns out, exercise does tire us out & research shows that that is one of the reasons. Whats more, there is strong evidence suggesting that exercise also improves the quality of your sleep. Consistency & persistence are key, it may take some time before you reap these rewards but research has shown that exercise helps you fall asleep easier & stay asleep.

  • Exercise makes us feel good

When we do exercise, our nervous system releases endorphins. Endorphins are our happy hormones, they can only do us good. Exercise has been shown to elevate our mood and improve our self-esteem.

  • Exercise decreases stress

Exercise helps clear our minds. It helps us release pent up frustration. It buffers the effects of mental stress, it reduces anxiety & research has shown it to prevent depression as well as alleviate it. When we stress, we tend to clench our shoulders, neck & back muscles & this can result in tension & pain which can be sorted out by exercise.

  • Exercise prevents disease

I’ve left the best for last. This is a big one. First of all, exercise strengthens our immune system & improves our quality of life, it is associated with fewer hospital visits & less medication use. There is new & convincing research showing that physical activity can decrease your likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Exercise has been proven to prevent asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke. It helps to build up & maintain bone density & muscle mass so it prevents the onset of osteoporosis & arthritis. It has also been shown to lower total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol & triglycerides and these are all the “bad” ones, so the lower the better. Exercise also increases HDL-cholesterol which is the “good” one & we want it higher. Lastly, there is strong research to show that exercise prevents colon cancer & some data suggesting it may prevent breast, prostate & uterine cancers amongst others.

So what? What do we do? Where? & How?

Well the most important thing is to start somewhere, anywhere. Take the stairs, not the escalator, its an old cliche but next time you’re at the shops, you’ll find yourself alone on the stairs while everyone else is gliding past. Don’t be one of those people who circle looking for the parking closest to the shopping centre door. Park as far away as you can & walk. Wake up early & take the dog for a walk or go for a run. If you would prefer not to leave the comfort of your home then invest in a skipping rope & skip in the kitchen while you wait for your dinner to cook, or in front of the tv or in your garage if you’re after some peace & quite. Do sit ups, plank & push ups next to your bed, before you get into it at night or as you fall out of it in the morning.

The Mayo Clinic recommends 150minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week or a mere 75minutes of vigorous exercise. Another way of putting it is that 30minutes of moderate intensity exercise most days of the week has been shown to have substantial health benefits for sedentary adults.

 

What constitutes moderate intensity exercise, you’re wondering. Here is a quick & easy overview:

 

EXERCISE ACTIVITY

NECESSARY DURATION

Washing the car

45-60 minutes

Washing the windows &/or floors

45-60 minutes

Playing a team sport

45 minutes

Gardening

30-45 minutes

Walking

15-20 minutes per 1.5km

Dancing (socially)

fast for 30 minutes

Water aerobics

30 minutes

Swimming laps

20 minutes

Cycling

6km in 15 minutes

Skipping (jumping rope)

15 minutes

Running

1km in 10 minutes

Stair walking

15 minutes

 

I’ve recently, reluctantly made my mind up to conquer my exercise phobia. I will keep you posted on my progress, please use it to motivate you & know you are not the only one “struggling up that hill”, excuse the pun… lets do this together, as Professor Frank Booth put it, when he coined the term Sedentary Death Syndrome, lets not “sit ourselves to death”.

I took this “post shuffle selfie” after one of my first exercise escapades. You may notice that I am not only sweating but oh yes, I am also crying. Overall not a glamorous situation but its the shuffling that matters. So Im hopelessly slow. Its embarrassing, but the only way to become faster is to keep going so I am, and less reluctantly. Regarding the crying- it was beyond my control, I find it ridiculously hilarious but it was an involuntary reflex to exercise, my body was probably wondering “why the torture, woman?”. As for the sweating-

WHEN IT COMES TO EXERCISE, IF YOU’RE NOT SWEATING YOU’RE NOT DOING IT RIGHT!

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