As a physician, I explain that exercise is practically a panacea (cures everything). Because our bodies evolved and are made to move, exercise or movement does “cure” most of what ails us. There is not a ‘why’ question here as it’s just good for you!
For myself, I’ve always been an occasional exerciser. I started jogging when I was in college but that didn’t last long because it was too hard on my knees. Tennis was fun but also not good for my knees. I tried step aerobics, the Total Gym (when it cost a fortune…), swimming and other types of at-home exercises.
What I discovered about my body is that it responded well to any regular exercise. Over the years, I’ve done yoga and worked with a personal trainer. The personal trainer was the best because he told me what to do and I did it. I was in shape enough to complete a sprint triathlon in my late 50’s. In the time between my sprint triathlon and 2012, I started medical school. Mid way through school, I decided I needed to get some regular exercise.
A group training center opened right up the street from my house. I decided to give it try. What I loved about it was that all I had to do was show up and do what they told me to do. The classes are about an hour and when the class is over, I’m done. I cool down and stretch and that’s it. I liked the way my body felt after each class. Now 7 years later, I am really loving it. It is part of my daily routine as much as brushing my teeth before bed. There are times when I decide I need rest, or my knee is bothering me, or I have an early appointment. When this happens, I cancel the night before and we’re good to go. It’s a great workout – cardio, strength, body weight and core work. High intensity interval training is at the heart of it. I’m not looking to be “cut”, those days are long gone but I feel good, have good stamina, sleep great and my clothes fit well.
I recently took up Pilates. Wow, that is a different workout but still some of the exercises are similar to my group training classes. We can do squats and jump on the reformer without all the body weight. This strengthens the muscles around my knees without additional stress. Adding this to my daily exercise has increased my core strength a lot – I sit up straighter, stand taller and have less strain on my back because my core is holding me up.
What I know is – any form of movement, whether it’s walking, swimming, running, Pilates, yoga, group training or a program you put together at home from books or YouTube videos, will improve your outlook, your heart and brain health. When you feel good, you look good! I have now turned this into ‘when’ I exercise within my when way of life!
Exercise, because of its’ extreme health benefits, should be part of your WHEN Way of Life all the way through to the end. When viewed from this perspective, we don’t have to overwork our muscles or continue working out through injuries. The goal here is to have a healthy body that continues to serve us for our whole lives. I want to be able to walk and move around when I’m 100 and exercise will get me there.
Dr. Elaine Stewart, ND, Chief Health Officer, www.findyourwhen.com