No matter how many rolling eyes I get, I will never stop asking my patients how much they are exercising. In fact, I was at a recent medical lecture where the point was made that exercise should be the 4th vital sign: How many times you exercise per day x the minutes. According to national standards it should be 150 minutes a week of moderate physical activity (ex. brisk walk, leisure bicycling, gardening, ballroom dancing) or 75 minutes a week of vigorous activity (ex. swimming laps, playing single tennis, fast bicycling).
Here are some reasons why we insist on exercising:
- Maintenance of weight ( noticed I did not say weight loss – as patients can always consume more calories than they burn by exercising)
- Muscle and bone strength
- Increase sensitivity to your own insulin ( preventing or delaying development or progression of type 2 diabetes mellitus)
- Increase stamina and cardiovascular health (sedentary lifestyle is as bad as smoking!!!)
- Helps decrease triglycerides and raise HDL ( the good) cholesterol
And one more: it slows down aging!! New research has shown that at the level of the chromosomes (where your DNA information is stored. The telomeres are the caps of those chromosomes and they protect against the aging process. As you get older telomeres become shorter. Longer telomeres are related with longevity. You can protect your telomeres and keep them longer through exercise, healthy diet and meditation.
So next time you are having trouble motivating yourself to exercise- think about all these reasons and like the famous Nike advertisement says: Just Do It!!!