Exercise for grown-ups, get active or get dead: Lifestyle Evolution Series

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Exercise for grown-ups, get active or get dead: Lifestyle Evolution Series

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Simple fact—if you are over 30 and don’t exercise, you are shortening your life, raining pain down on your body and breaking-down your brain.

In your teens and twenties, exercise is largely about appearance and performance. And, rightly so. Because prowess and appeal are prime motivators during this time of your life. Disease and dysfunction just seem too remote to fuel your desire to become and stay active. These are your invincible years.

But, as you move into your 30s, 40s and beyond, moving your body in conscious-way on a regular basis takes on a whole new purpose. Life’s grind begins to impact you in ways not experienced earlier in life and the cumulative effect can range from mildly-intrusive to massively disruptive.

Increased responsibilities, coupled with longer workdays often lead to higher levels of chronic stress. And, tighter schedules lead many to abandon exercise as something that just takes up too much time. It takes a back seat to building your career and taking care of your family. Problem is, when you de-prioritize exercise with age, the negative impact reaches far beyond what you ever imagined.

Indeed, inactivity can stifle nearly every part of your life…

  • Inactivity breeds pain. Inactivity combined with poor ergonomics and a work environment that ties many you to a desk or computer can leads to postural dysfunction and set up compensation patterns in your body that may underlie chronic and acute pain, spasms, head, neck-pain and back-aches.
  • Inactivity kills your metabolism. After 30, we begin to literally shed muscle tissue from our body at an alarming rate. And, since muscle is the most metabolically active tissue (it burns the most calories), every pound of muscle lost drops your metabolism and increases the likelihood of becoming overweight or obese. Exercise, more specifically, resistance training, is about the only way to stop this phenomenon and, potentially, even rebuild lost muscle and re-activate your metabolism. But, there is also a second mechanism at work…
  • Sitting shuts off your fat-burning system. In a fascinating recent study by the University of Missouri-Columbia, scientists found that sitting for extended periods of time literally shuts down your metabolic processes and increases storage of food as fat. Lead researcher, Marc Hamilton, an associate professor of biomedical sciences, revealed, “The enzymes in blood vessels of muscles responsible for ‘fat burning’ are shut off within hours of not standing. Standing and moving lightly will re-engage the enzymes.” He adds, “Many activities like talking on the phone or watching a child’s ballgame can be done just as enjoyably upright, and you burn double the number of calories while you’re doing it.”
  • Inactivity increases risk of heart-attack. A sedentary lifestyle is now considered at dangerous a risk for heart-disease as smoking. Indeed, a recent study, involving 17,000 Harvard alumni men, revealed those who burned at least 2000 kcal’s on exercise a week increased their average lifespan by 2-years and reduced the risk of death by 64%, compared to less active men. So, the less you exercise the more likely you are to die younger.

While, inactivity lead to a slow decline in your ability to drink in life, regular activity can profoundly enhance your life, lifestyle and even performance at work an earning potential

In addition to short-circuiting the above life-limiting spirals, exercise can…

Okay, okay, so it seems pretty clear you’d have to be crazy not to adopt some form of exercise program as you move into adulthood. It makes every aspect of your life better!

Then, why do so many people remain inactive?

The challenge is two-fold. One, the more grown-up you get, life just seems to get increasingly in the way of exercise. It’s not that we don’t want to exercise. It’s that there are only so many hours in the day. At least, that’s what I and millions of others tell themselves when we fall off the active-lifestyle wagon. So, lets just nip this excuse in the bud.

There is no such thing as not having the time to exercise.

Exercise makes its own time. What the heck does that mean? A study of NASA employees revealed that those who exercised were able to work at nearly 100% efficiency for a full workday, while those who did not saw their productivity cut by a whopping 50% in the last two hours of the day. So, the exercisers actually got done in one-hour what it took the non-exercisers two-hours to do. That gave them the time to exercise.

Exercise is about priorities, not time.

When we say, “I don’t have time to exercise,” we are really saying, “I don’t value exercise enough to make the time to do it.” The problem is, more stress you have, the more demand there is for your time, the more important and beneficial exercise is.

You really only have two options: (1) figure out how to integrate regular activity into your life and get the most out of every day, or (2) remain inactive and, a some point, you’re going to implode and all that time you said you didn’t have to exercise will be taken up fighting disease or rehabbing a stroke or hear-attack. You have the time. I have time. It’s jus about how and when you want to spend it.

Hopefully, the discussion above will open your eyes to the importance of reprioritizing exercise.

And, as we move closer to launching our collective Lifestyle Evolution, I’ll share a set of highly effective goal-setting and habit indoctrination tools to help re-integrate exercise into each day.

So, now we’ve dealt with the “time” excuse, but there’s still something else that keeps 85% of American adults from joining health clubs, no matter how glitzy they become or how many pieces of equipment they offer. It’s a massive barrier to beginning and growing an active lifestyle.

And, in tomorrow’s follow-up to this article, I will…

  • Reveal what stops 200-million American adults from joining gyms, and
  • Share a simple approach to finding and integrating exercise into your life that will be so much fun it’ll literally have you searching for ways to do it more everyday (believe it!).

So, be sure to tune in for part two of this series on getting active when you’re grown-up! And, if this is your first-time, you may want to check out last week’s introductory Lifestyle Evolution Team article, entitled Fat Yogi Walking and join me and a growing family of worldwide lifestyle visionaries as we get ready to renovate our bodies, minds and lives in 2008 together.

As always, please share your thoughts, ideas and ask any questions you may have about lifestyle-evolution in the comments below.

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11 responses

11 Responses to “Exercise for grown-ups, get active or get dead: Lifestyle Evolution Series”

  1. Todd Morris says:

    Hi Jonathan,

    A few years back, when I was at a different assignment, we didn’t have exercise scheduled into our daily workday, so I had to figure out how to motivate myself. Here are a few things I did:

    1) Start slow, but try to do a little more every day, or at least every other day. For instance, I ran in my neighborhood, and every couple of days I would try to add an extra block to my route.

    2) Made a promise to myself that I would exercise every day before bed. If I knocked it out in the morning, I was good to go. If not, there were a few times I was out running at 10pm. I didn’t make any excuses to skip … much too easy for 1 day to become 3 days, to become a week, etc.

    3) If I felt like quitting during my workout, I simply said in my head “you’re only cheating yourself … no one else cares if you walk”

    4) Realize that the first 2-3 weeks will be the hardest … once you get past that, it’s much easier.

    Hope this helps.

    Looking forward to your next article.

    Todd

  2. Jonathan Fields says:

    Hey Todd,

    Great insights! My last few posts in December on this topic will go into the process of goal-setting and progressive habit integration and then set up an incremental plan of action that I’ll use o guide my journey and invite everyone else to modify to guide theirs.

    Interestingly, it’s really important to give each new behavior time to integrate before adding another into the mix, so, though it’s a bit counterintuitive, doing too much can actually be more damaging to success than not doing enough!

  3. Hi Jonathan,

    I’m game for your network since I truly need to get off my butt as well. Since working online my physique has taken a dive. (Literally speaking :-)) which is tragic really and I want to get back on track with my health.

    I got diagnosed with Gillian Barre Syndrom in 2006 which was a year of hell, but now I’m back to normal and lucky I was lucky in terms of not ending up in a wheel chair. But this sent me spiraling downwards in terms of fitness and overall well being and yet my mind is stronger now than it has ever been.

    So I will follow along with this and partake in your fitness network. Being accountable is a very powerful force and I intend to use it. :-)

  4. Nicki says:

    I am 42 years old too and I drink and smoke cigarettes on a regulable basis. I used to be very fit and a good sprinter but as life has gone on and I have had 3 kids my priorities have changed and I have forgotten about myself so I think now is the time to remember me and change back to who I was!!

    Nicki

  5. Adeline says:

    I too have 3 kids and understand how you get lost in raising them, and getting them on the right track. Most mothers I’ve encountered have done a great job raising their kids, meeting the needs of the family and are often very successful in their careeers, but they’ve lost themselves in the process. Rather than trying to change back to who I was, I’ve spent time thinking about what I want in my life, what are my passions and joys and who do I want to be. Start where you are. All of the choices you’ve made were the best you could make with the information you had at the time. You did what you could do. I think this focus can put you in forward motion. Give it a try and develop a vision of what you want your life to be. I look forward to Jonathan’s perspective because he is acknowledging that life changes as we age and we have many obligations, but it is up to us to take control of what we want our life to be. Looking forward to 2008!

  6. Jonathan Fields says:

    @ Monika – it’s amazing what life can throw in our paths, I am glad your doing better and look forward to sharing his experience!

    @ Nicki – Woohoo! It’s never easy, but we’ll all try to take this step and step and make it happen with as much intelligence as possible.

    @ Adeline – Great philosophy, learn from the past, let it inform the future and live and forgive in he present!

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