Principle #4 – Exercise versus Strength/Resistance Training & Cardio

As I continue to work in the Emergency Department, one thing has become abundantly clear; our population has continued to get bigger and bigger.  This issue, even more dire, is affecting our children.  Childhood Obesity is at an all-time high in the US.  It is a well-known fact that obesity and being overweight can lead to chronic diseases.  The two primary causes of being overweight are our nutritional intake in addition to the lack of physical activity.  Both are important and significant in the etiology of being overweight.  Obesity is emerging as a health epidemic, not just in the US, but worldwide.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, obesity is rapidly spreading across all regions and demographic groups. An estimated 97 million adults in the United States are overweight or obese. That figure represents more than 50% of the American adult population.  The aforementioned is an extreme stark change from when I was growing up as a little boy in the 60’s, where you had one, or at most, two overweight individuals in your class.  Unfortunately, today, being overweight seems to be totally acceptable!  Obesity results from an excess of total body fat, which results from the caloric intake that exceeds energy usage.  As my trainer puts it, “One eats more than they burn off.”  The American Obesity Association reports that obese individuals have a 50-100% increased risk of death as compared to normal weight individuals, with 300,000 to 587,000 deaths each year. This substantial increase in health risks has made obesity the second leading cause of preventable death in the United States. Non-Hispanic Blacks have the highest age-adjusted rates of obesity, followed by Hispanics, non-Hispanic Whites, and non-Hispanic Asians.  Obesity is higher among middle-aged adults (40-59) than among younger adults (20-39), or adults over 60 or above.   Some of the main causes are as follows: Bigger Portion Sizes, poor Nutrition and Inactivity, now considered the New Normal.

Physical inactivity is the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality.  Globally, 6% of deaths are attributed to physical inactivity.  Some experts say that physical inactivity is the main cause for approximately 21–25% of breast and colon cancers, 27% of diabetes, 30% of heart disease, and 12-13% of strokes.

Hopefully, you would agree; the above presents some very stark statistics about the problems resulting from not exercising (Strength/Resistance Training & Cardio).

What can you gain by regular physical exercise, i.e., a minimum of 4 days/week, one to two hours daily?  The benefits of Regular Physical exercise are incalculable!

Regular physical activity can reduce the risk of many chronic conditions including coronary heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes, cancer, obesity, mental health problems and musculoskeletal/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Fibromyalgia/Chronic Arthritis, Osteoporosis and Osteoarthritis conditions.

Overall, regular physical activity helps to maintain a healthy body.  Regular exercise boosts brainpower, decreases stress, boosts energy, helps ward off disease, allows you eat more, boosts brainpower, and boosts your overall performance.

Other benefits include: lowering a risk of falls causing hip and/or vertebral fractures,  maintaining a healthy weight, improving muscular and cardio-respiratory fitness, lowering rates of depression, promotes better sleep, increases sex life/drive, even maintaining or developing one’s personal relationships.  I would like a make a comment about personal relationships.  I’ve observed many couples that have been together for a number of years currently acting more like roommates than lovers.  What’s up with that?  In addition, why would a married couple call each other Ma and Pa?  You just know the fire in their bedroom does not exist!

Furthermore, a regular exercise program can accomplish: improved self-image/self-confidence, controlled appetite, higher endurance or stamina, healthier cholesterol levels, less chance of injury, less tension, greater management of stress.  If troubled, exercise is a great way to clear your mind. Playing team sports or joining an exercise program can introduce you to new people, new experiences.

A personal comment about clearing one’s head.  After a 12 or 24-hour shift in the Emergency Department, I head straight to the gym.  After about 15 minutes in the gym, I have completely forgotten what had happened during my shift.  Regular exercise is a form of meditation for me personally!
Lastly, for you Baby Boomers, are you concerned about Dementia? Exercise can prevent cognitive decline (understanding/comprehension) and sharpen memory.
When I first started to exercise regularly, it was difficult.  However, over time, I wouldn’t even consider not exercising 4-7 times a week.  I exercise when I travel for work and even when traveling for conferences as well!  Age is not an excuse.  I am currently 59 years old and some of my greatest exercise mentors are older than I am.  Folks, regular exercise is a must if one wants to live a fulfilling life versus just existing.  I will continue to be on the Journey with you!  Look for a Gym in your area, and if unsure about what you need to do, I highly recommend a Trainer who is “Walking the Talk!”