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Excerise: The Keystone Habit

Why is Exercise Important?

Unlike sleep, exercise has been a central part in American identity. Whether it be commercials for exercise bikes or pilates videos on YouTube, physical activity and its various configurations has been marketed for decades. So it’s understandable that the benefits of exercise are widely known; high activity leads to muscle mass, weight loss, and better overall health. Despite these facts, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that about half of adult Americans don’t meet the requirements for moderate exercise. That begs the question: if we know exercise is good for us, why don’t we do it? Today we’ll explore the benefits of regular exercise, as well as common explanations on why people don’t do it.

What are the Benefits of Exercise?

The most obvious, and well known, advantage of getting regular exercise is losing weight. Through activities like cardio, muscle strength training, and yoga, your body spends energy through the form of calories. Losing calories increases your metabolic rate, as well as reducing fat and weight.

Other benefits of exercise include making you stronger. When you subject your body to constant movement, you increase its muscle mass and bone density. Cardio and resistance training also increases blood flow, lowers blood pressure and even increases your sensitivity to insulin.

Further evidence suggests that exercise can even “act like a drug”. In an article titled Exercise acts as a drug: the pharmacological benefits of exercise, Dr. Vina and their team suggest that regular physical activity could be considered as a psychoactive drug. In moderate doses, exercise increases oxygen production and endorphins. These chemicals improve your overall mood and even prevent onset of depression. In fact, some people even grow addicted to exercise, performing it so often that it can damage their body.

Why don’t People get Enough Exercise?

The benefits of physical activity are well-documented and widely-known. So why do half of Americans still not get enough exercise? According to the Heart Foundation, there are several reasons why people choose not to work out:

Lack of Energy: Exercise makes you tired. It makes sense that some people can muster up the strength to go work out when they wake up in the morning or when they come back from work. Moving around for half an hour or more doesn’t seem appealing when you already don’t have a lot of energy. This is even harder if you don’t get enough nutrition or sleep.

Lack of Time: People are too busy. If we don’t plan ahead, it’s easy to fill our time with other responsibilities like getting enough sleep, doing your homework, or cooking a proper homemade meal. This might be harder if you’re a parent or a student since you might still have chores to do after you come home from a day’s work. Once people do have free time, it’s tempting to use it for something more relaxing like watching TV, When you do have the free time, it’s tempting to use the time for something else such as watching TV.

Lack of Resources: Perhaps the biggest obstacle to people getting enough is exercise is a lack of resources. This can come in many forms. Some people may not have the knowledge on how to get started. What equipment do you use? What time of day is best to get started? Others may not be able to afford the materials for working out such a gym membership or athletic clothing.

Reasons on why you might not exercise vary from individual to individual. All of them are completely valid and depend on a lot of different factors. But there are still some strategies that you can use to make sure that you’re working out a little bit each day. Next week, we’ll talk about some of the solutions to these problems and how to get more exercise.

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