You know all the stories, all the warnings, all the dire afflictions to your body, your health, your quality of life, and eventually, your early mortality coming to you soon or eventually, unless: you eat healthy, get enough sleep, give up smoking, and especially, exercise, exercise, exercise.
The chances of morbid obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular problems, including stroke and heart attack have all been shown in countless studies to be reduced or eliminated through exercise. And you know that also. But it seems so hard, and it hurts, and you have perhaps tried, didn’t see any changes, or feel any better, and just quit. Or maybe you wanted to do something to improve your body, but you like good food and pleasant drinking and hanging out, way too much to trade it in for the hard work and time taken for regular exercise.
But truly putting things in perspective, you need to hear the words of Joanne Woodward, excellent actress herself, but better known as the late Paul Newman’s wife. In a question posed by the TV interviewer about her movie of a female marathoner and in real life, a committed runner: “How can one of your favorite foods be pasta and sauce when you are a runner, doesn’t that cancel out your exercise?”, Ms. Woodward replied: “you have it all backwards, I run precisely so that I’m able to partake of pasta and sauce and all those other wonderful foods”. So exercise not only saves your life, but vastly improves the quality of it.
Almost every expert will tell you to start by walking outdoors. Moving at all, of course, is a plus, but we would recommend a gym membership where you can still walk but in air temperature comfort, while at the same time having a machine to ratchet up the speed as in a treadmill which, in turn increases your heart rate. Your improvement in cardiovascular endurance will be enhanced by moving just a tad faster each day, which does not happen in an ordinary stroll. When you get to the point that the speed requires running, ditch the treadmill for an elliptical machine, because you’ll get the same aerobic benefit without the knee pounding resulting from lifting the feet. Even better, check out the elliptical machines before you decide on a gym, and see if they feature the new ones such as “Sports Art” that allow you to ratchet up the degree of difficulty to achieve not only the endurance needed to increase your lung capacity (aerobic exercise), but also to add muscle (anaerobic exercise) to your lower body.
That last point about anaerobic activity to improve muscle size and flexibility is an essential part of your exercise whether you’re overweight by a little or a lot, and a key element in weight control. You see, muscle burns calories much faster than fat does, even when you’re completely at rest. So it’s exercise, especially aerobic to take weight off, and resistance training to add muscle so that your muscle mass will keep the calories burning and therefore continue to keep weight off, even when you’re not exercising! So, let your gym people introduce you to the resistance machine circuit that you can begin with, and in many cases, have you instructed in each machine use, either at no or at a small fee.
Armed with this knowledge, and somewhat motivated, let’s face the most difficult part of starting in a gym with all those in-shape people when you feel you are so out of shape. As they say in New York City, “fugedaboutit”! Nobody that goes to a gym that I know of, in countless cities that I have been in, will be treating you badly, or staring, or even thinking about putting you down in any way. At the most, if you are overweight, they’re only going to think that you are where you’re supposed to be, and even perhaps, “God bless you for taking it on” and silently praise your courage, because so many of them started as you have.
So lets get started and remember what someone, I forget who, said about our bodies: “Our body is the baggage that we carry around all our life, keep it light and strong”.
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