Exercise has become very complex over the years, so much that even Webster’s definition of the word has so many meanings. For the discussion of this post, I’m of course referring to exercise as a means of physical exertion, or as one of the many definitions of the word Webster’s describes as “bodily exertion for the sake of developing and maintaining physical fitness”. Today, there are literally thousands of ways to get exercise yet we still find just as many excuses as to why we don’t. With physical fitness being one of, if not the top way of having some control over our health, perhaps it’s more a question of our preconceived notions of exercise are all wrong.
No Longer A Leader
According to a report from the World Health Organization back in January 2013, the U.S. ranks last among 17 countries in terms of health and are not based on longevity of life, but across the lifespan. We excel at the number of preventable deaths: heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, obesity; and tragically there is little competition with regards to deaths by homicide or accidents. Life happens, accidents happen, but neither is an excuse for throwing caution into the wind when something as simple as moving can go a long, long way towards improving your health. With today’s knowledge and resources, there is really no excusable reason for us not to be exercising. So the next question is, are we even doing the right exercise?
The Quick And Easy Answer
The right exercise is any exercise. Any physical movement above and beyond what you do on a daily basis can be considered exercise. Where some of the confusion permeates is from self proclaimed gurus who have the “one and only end all to end all exercise” programs or cult-ish driven exercise beliefs that brainwash its followers as if they are the only ones who know what they are doing. The truth is there is no such thing as a bad exercise. There are however exercises applied improperly and with bad technique or instruction.
Risk vs. Reward
The only two questions you need to ask yourself are: 1) what is the reward/goal/outcome of my chosen activity (exercise), and 2) what are the risks? Pretty simple, yet with all of the choices at your discretion, it’s very easy to get wrapped up in what’s cool versus what’s safe and effective. Sure, there are exercises that are better for a specific goal (i.e. weight lifting to build strength), but in the end the only thing that really matters is that you keep your body moving, doing something you hopefully enjoy, and thus consistently. Try new programs; experience other disciplines; step out of your comfort zone. No matter what you do, the reward certainly outweighs any risk of not doing anything.
Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.