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 doubles risk of disability. A recently published study that followed more than 10,000 people for 6 years revealed a near doubling in the rate of physical disability later in life for those who exercised minimally during mid-life, compared to individuals who exercised regularly.
- 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…
- Improve sleep duration and quality
- Encourage weight loss and maintenance (jut too many dang references to link to here)
- Improve your mood and help reduce depression and anxiety
- Keep your bones and joints strong
- Lower your risk of high-blood pressure, diabetes, and various types of cancer
- Allow you to do more with your life and feel better all the time
- Reduce chronic aches and pains
- Improve your intelligence, cognitive function and work performance
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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