Before we get started, let’s dispel some myths that could be standing in the way of your commitment to exercise.
MYTH: You must work out hard and often, otherwise it is not worth exercising at all. This kind of thinking keeps a lot of people from maintaining or even starting an exercise program. Research shows that any exercise is better than none. For example, regular walking or gardening, for as little as an hour a week, has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease.
MYTH: Exercise Is one sure way to lose all the weight you desire. Not true. Weight gain or loss is impacted by many factors, including the types of food you eat, how much food you eat and how often you eat it.
MYTH: Home workouts are fine, but going to the gym is best. Research has shown that some people find it easier to stick to a home-based fitness program. Don’t be swayed by the hype about trendy exercise programs and facilities. The “best” program for YOU is the one YOU will participate in consistently.
MYTH: Strength-training will make women too muscular. Don’t worry about looking like a bodybuilder. Women don’t have enough testosterone to create big, bulky muscles. To become a bodybuilder, women have to do a lot of weird things that most strength-training programs don’t do. The fact is, strength-training is not only for men. Women need it too! Women naturally have less bone and muscle than men. That’s why women are at greater risk of osteoporosis than men. Muscle-loss puts women at greater risk of disability as they age. Strength training increases lean muscle mass.
MYTH: Thin people do not need to exercise. There are a lot of ‘skinny-fat’ people in the world. They appear thin, but the relative proportion of fat to muscle is high [aka body fat percentage]. The butt sags, the shoulders stoop, the arms flap and the belly bulges because they have little lean muscle. ‘Skinny-fat’ people need to incorporate exercise into their day just as much as a person who is overweight.
MYTH: If you didn’t exercise when you were younger, it’s too late. It is never too late to start an exercise routine. You can reap benefits at any age. Exercise actually slows down the aging process. It reduces the loss of bone and muscle and increases the ability to move with youthful grace.
MYTH: Age and hormones make us fat. So many people blame their bulging belly and sluggish metabolism on age and hormones. That’s malarkey! True, as we age our hormones shift in ways that encourage weight gain.
- The leptin receptors in the brain start to decrease, so your body doesn’t recognize when it’s full. This can lead to overeating.
- In women, female hormones decrease and insulin regulating hormones are less effective. This can lead to more fat (muffin top).
- In men, testosterone levels decline. Muscle mass and energy level can decrease. Belly fat and insulin resistance can increase.
These hormonal shifts not only contribute to a changing body shape, but they can also make you more irritable and depressed. Age doesn’t excuse crankiness, nor does it excuse getting fat. The truth is, eating properly and exercising regularly can prevent and reverse obesity no matter your age.
Now that you have addressed the myths – let’s talk about the facts.
FACT: Your doctor probably recommends it. I have never had a client come back to me to tell me the doctor said,” There no science behind exercise and you don’t need it.”
FACT: Exercise helps balance moods.It regulates the ‘stress’ hormone [cortisol] and stimulates the ‘feel good hormones [serotonin, dopamine].
FACT: Exercise burns fat. It increases the fat burning hormones [i.e. Testosterone, HGH (human growth hormone), DHEA, and thyroxin (T4)].
FACT: Exercise improves cognitive function. To get on with your life, you need a sharp mind too. Exercise increases the blood flow and oxygen levels in the brain. These spikes are associated with a sharpened memory, heightened focus, creativity and problem solving. (And you thought ‘Gym rats’ were muscle-headed Neanderthals?)
FACT: Exercise prevents and even reverses degenerative disease. Do your own research. You will find adequate exercise is associated with stronger bones, stabilized blood sugar, healthy arteries, lean bodies, less fat and all the other conditions needed to prevent, manage [or reverse] heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
FACT: And there is more. It reduces risk of addiction relapse. It promotes a healthier digestion. It reduces stiffness, aches and pains. It increases resistance to viral and bacterial infections and slows the aging process [Yes! Fewer wrinkles.]
FACT: You don’t have to spend 6 hours a day in the gym. Many popular fitness reality shows suggest that the only way to get fit is to organize your life around your exercise schedule. Like who has the luxury of doing that, right? As a matter of fact, just like dieting, if exercise is a temporarily “extreme”, so are its benefits. In as little as 30 minutes of exercise, 5 days a week, you can see dramatic changes. Likewise, every day that you don’t get up and move ‘with purpose’, you are one step closer to heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, cancer, depression, arthritis and osteoporosis.