When someone mentions ‘exercise’ or starts talking about their latest trip to the gym, there are two common reactions: a groan (with an eye roll for dramatic effect) or guilt. The truth is a lot of Americans, and people around the world, either don’t exercise or do exercise but hate every minute of it. The CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) did a study back in 2013 and found that 80% of Americans do not get enough exercise. They recommended the average adult should get either 2.5 hours of moderate aerobic exercise or 1.25 hours of vigorous aerobic exercise each week, along with strength building exercises twice a week. Now this may sound like a high goal to set, but it certainly isn’t unreasonable. I have military and fitness enthusiast friends who exceed this goal in one day. Not everyone has to live in the gym or is tasked with defending our country, but the average person can benefit greatly from just 20-30 minutes of exercise a day.
The first benefit is the most obvious: health. Your body burns calories much faster when exercising than when you are stationary or sleeping. Your heart health increases as well. Raising your heart rate conditions your body to pump blood faster, raise your metabolism, and makes your whole cardiovascular system stronger. Exercise has also been proven to decrease high blood pressure and the risk of getting heart disease and type-2 diabetes.
Mental health is another big benefit. Working out releases endorphins, which naturally put you in a better mood. It also helps prevent depression, paranoia, and anxiety. Also, indirectly, working out will make you feel better about yourself and you will look better over time. I don’t know anyone who ever said, “I feel horrible about that workout, I should’ve just stayed home and watched Netflix.” I can say from personal experience that working out regularly has boosted my overall mood and increased my health dramatically. Plus, everyone feels great when they look more cut and toned in the mirror.
Those are the two biggest benefits summarized. So, what is stopping you? Don’t let time or money be an excuse.
If you are a waiter or waitress and are running around 10 hours a day at work, then you are probably getting enough exercise by most standards. But what if you, like me, sit at a desk all day? The first thing is you can use your time wisely and make smart, healthy decisions throughout the day. For example, I work on the 4th floor of my building and park on the 5th floor of the parking garage. While everyone waits for the elevator, sometimes a massive crowd, I walk up and down the stairs every day. Just that small amount of cardio makes my heart beat faster and releases some endorphins. I also take a walk on my lunch break every day. I’ll admit this is mainly to get some fresh air, escape the office, and enjoy the warm Florida sun, but a 15 minute walk every day for a year will benefit you a lot. I even worked with a guy who had resistance bands attached to his office chair. He worked out his arms and chest while he was on the phone with clients. Smart guy! I also want to note that you can do simple exercises like mountain climbers, push-ups, sit-ups, and squats without any equipment, as these are all body weight exercises. I do these after 10-hour days at the office when I don’t have the time or motivation to drive to the gym.
I hear people talking about how expensive gym memberships are. Sure, maybe you live in a small town that must charge higher prices because of less customers, or maybe you want to go to a more premium gym like LA Fitness, but a lot of gyms offer memberships for just $10 a month. I live in Tampa and have access to three different franchises that charge that price. They’ll charge you at least double that if you want tanning, hydro-massage, or group classes, but you can usually get a low monthly price for just using the equipment, which is all you need. I personally go to Planet Fitness, and they have more than enough equipment to justify the $10 a month price. There is also no contract and they have locations across the nation. If you don’t have access to a gym like that then there are a couple other options. Many large companies have workout facilities on their campus or within their building. Apartment complexes also do this too. And finally, a lot of public parks have workout equipment and body weight exercise you can do.
The final thing worth mentioning is that exercise can be fun. Not everyone likes to run for 3 miles on a treadmill, I personally hate running. But what about swimming or rowing? That’s more my cup of tea. Sports are a great way to exercise and can be a ton of fun. I’m not super athletic but playing basketball or football with friends is always a good time. As I mentioned in an earlier article, MMA and combat sports in general are not only fun and rewarding, they teach you how to defend yourself. Definitely a good deal. Even throwing around a frisbee or going on a long walk with friends can be great exercise, I can’t count how many times I did those in college.