5 July 2012

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Exercise to save your health and your sanity

Few of us exercise regularly, for a variety of reasons. If you can move without pain or discomfort, you need to! I remember driving past a squatter camp on my way to work and seeing many people jogging in the mornings, looking happy and motivated no matter what their shape or age. Built like a plank or an exercise ball, it doesn’t matter, exercise is good for all of us lucky enough to be able to move our bodies.
Maybe that’s one of the reasons why kids have so much fun. They’re always moving, exploring and seeing how far they can go in every respect. As adults we slip into a comfort zone, we surrender to life and try to get by with as little effort as possible. However, this is often counterproductive as living this way can mean more effort in the long run!

 The draw backs of not getting enough exercise definitely outweigh the effort of getting up and moving. Chronic health problems, of which many are caused by lifestyle factors, will always cost more in Rand than looking after yourself. Not to mention the price you will pay as it shortens your life and the quality of life you will be trading in when you get sick.

Because exercise releases endorphins, it makes you feel better and it is strongly recommended for people suffering from stress or depression, along with other medication or therapy of course.

 Health24.com has a brilliant article on the benefits of exercise and I’ll sum it up here. The biggest benefit of exercise to your body in the long term is that it strengthens your heart and even keeps heart disease at bay if you are already genetically prone to it. Exercise reduces LDL cholesterol (the bad kind), reduces blood pressure (and in effect the stress on your heart) while simultaneously making your heart stronger and function better.
Then the obvious one: exercise promotes weight loss. You might think that SA is safe on this one, seeing as we’re a third-world country, but more people are dying from obesity-related illnesses than starvation. To lose weight and keep it off you only have to exercise energetically for thirty minutes every day. Pushing yourself further will have better results, but almost anyone should be able to manage 30 minutes.
Exercising regularly prevents osteoporosis, high blood pressure, colds, diabetic complications, impotence, insomnia and stroke. It helps manage many forms of arthritis, promotes brain function and has anti-ageing benefits because inactivity is more of a threat to your health than the ageing process itself. It is a great de-stressor and you will always feel better after a work-out. We look after our hair and clothes, but why not regularly look after our health? Exercising should be part of your daily routine like brushing your teeth or eating vegetables.

Look for part II, How to get moving from the couch to the crunch, on how and when to get that exercise in, on a budget!


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