Exercise is not just for fanatics!

The term "exercise" has the ability to polarize people; some seek out exercise articles, new trends and different programs, others shut off once they see the word. As a Primary Care Physician, one of my main concerns is to interest people in regular movement both for injury prevention and overall health benefits. The reasons I'm given, for people choosing to avoid exercise, are many: no time, never liked it, have an injury, too expensive, don't want to bulk up, doesn't help them trim down, not already skinny, not already muscular, don't know how, hate gyms, etc. etc. etc. No matter how many articles, blogs, blurbs and commercials are written, it is still my (and all other health professionals') responsibility to continue promoting exercise as a lifestyle. It's my job to encourage movement not for looks, but for overall health.

For those who think they don't have to exercise, I compare daily activity to brushing your teeth. Regular tooth-brushing is something that is taught by parents from young. As a toddler, you don't WANT to brush your teeth. However your parents make you do it, every day, for the reasons that it's good for you, you want to prevent cavities, you want your teeth to look nice, you don't want food stuck in them, and further down the road you want to prevent gum disease, gingivitis and heart problems. Exercise is very much the same. Most do not WANT to workout, but it should really be taught from young up; you want to feel and look better every day. You want to prevent future heart attack and stroke risk, as well as diabetes, osteoporosis and high blood pressure. You want to increase life expectancy, and to enjoy life more. The excuses that try to over-ride these reasons are from the inner toddler in us all, who wants to say "NO, I don't like that!" to the adult we are today.

If you are in the group who hates it, or who doesn't regularly make time for physical activity, my advice is to just do something. Walking for 10 mins 2x/week is better than nothing. Curling your grocery bags 10x before putting them on the counter is better than nothing. Going faster up the stairs is better than nothing. Sometimes the hang up is that if you can't look like a Nike commercial, it's not worth it, and nothing could be further from the truth. Finding things you can do all the time can be better than running a marathon or pumping iron at the gym.

If you are someone who already maintains some level of activity and has a more specific goal in mind (weight loss, sport-specific training, competing in an event) that is the time to pursue a more disciplined training program. Having someone help you focus on your goals and set a training plan to make sure you achieve them is key. Group Fitness Classes are extremely popular here at the Training Centre. They offer expert level coaching and encouragement to work, with a fun atmosphere surrounded by other people. We have HIIT training (high-intensity interval training) in the form of TABATA and Body Burn, and a full-body program in the form of SplitFit (circuit training, spin bikes and TRX) as well as other favourites like Bootcamp and Stretch Classes.

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In the end, humans need activity. It's not just a hobby for the fitness fanatic. Our body performs better and gets sick less when we are active. Almost any condition is improved with exercise. Just pick something you hate the least, and do that. We are here to help!

Taia Spencer-Yap