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joggingTo Exercise or No? How Many Choices Do I Have?
by Marjorie Dorfman

Do you put off exercising? Would you secretly rather do anything but that? If so, join my club. You probably won’t change your mind, but you might start worrying a bit more about not exercising.


I never did like working out. It bears the same relationship to real sport as masturbation does to real sex.    – David Lodge, 1935

As the owner of a treadmill that is dusty from disuse and functions as an off season hanger and saddle holder, I am, without a doubt, the last person in the world qualified to write an article about the importance of exercise in every day life. Still, there’s something about being a non-authority and setting a poor example that empowers me in a way I never thought possible. For me, exercise represents a royal family of excuses and procrastinations, which permit me to put off until next year that which I couldn’t possibly consider today. I hate it and yet more than a part of me (which gets a bit flabbier with every day that passes), knows that I must or at the very least should surrender to both the laws of gravity and the postponement of such.

I am an active person who cleans house (sometimes), shops, showers, cooks, rides horses, reads, writes, walks, eats and watches television. Doesn’t any of that count as significant exercise? Well, maybe more for the horses mentioned, but one burning question remains. How many calories can I actually burn walking from the car to the house (many steps), the kitchen to the den (fewer steps) and then to the bedroom? (fewer still)? About 27, I’d say. (Notice I did not round off the number.) I do walk briskly around the complex where I live whenever I feel like it and the weather is nice, but I am not consistent. Thus, my accomplishments in this endeavor executed in the manner I choose to tackle them are tantamount to an old Italian expression that boasts of making a hole in water.

For the young it seems that exercise, like carbohydrate reduction, is unnecessary. Somehow those hamburgers, French fries, pizzas and cheesecakes don’t count or reside upon significant body parts until you get to be about forty. Some might say this disgusting phenomenon occurs even earlier in life and perhaps it is true for them, but for me everything started to fall apart (or began to sag) about then. Middle age reminds me of an appliance that doesn’t break down until the day after the warranty expires, even though I should not refer lightly to a stage that I am about to pass through ever so not gently. What will happen to my not so young frame? Will it be discarded like an old Chevrolet and replaced by newer, better-toned parts? Well, I’m not into used cars and I can’t let that happen. Can you?

Regular exercise is the most dramatic adjustment you can make to ensure good health. It can help improve your outlook and appearance, and increase productivity. It also contributes to reducing the risk of heart disease by lowering LDL (bad cholesterol) levels, increasing HDL (good cholesterol) levels, lowering blood pressure and triglyceride levels, reducing weight and improving all aspects of cardiovascular health. For women specifically, researchers at The University of Southern California found that one to three hours of exercise per week during the reproductive years cuts breast cancer risk by 40 percent. For middle-aged men, physical activity is associated with the reduced risk of prostate, upper digestive and stomach cancers as well. Physical fitness can be defined as the ability to carry out daily tasks with vigor, without fatigue and with ample energy to enjoy leisure pursuits. It has three basic components known as the three pillars: cardiovascular endurance, muscular endurance and flexibility.
treadmill
Cardiovascular endurance is reflected in the sustained ability of the heart and blood vessels to carry oxygen to the body’s cells. This can be achieved by brisk walking, running, online skating, swimming, cycling, rowing and aerobic dance. Thirty minutes of moderate physical activity over the course of most days is enough. For greater cardiovascular benefits, you would need to perform moderate to high intensity aerobic exercise (at 60 to 90% of your maximum heart rate) 3 to 5 times a week, with each session lasting 20 to 60 minutes, in addition to warm up and cool down activities. The safe level of the pulse rate is determined by subtracting your age from 200. The pulse should not exceed this amount per minute to be on the safe side. If you cannot add or subtract, are older than 200 or were absent from school on the day they did that, play ball or walk to work.

If you are middle aged or older or plan to live long enough to become middle aged or older, all three muscle fiber types, slow, fast and super fast, must be exercised. The average person has approximately 60 per cent fast muscle fibers and 40 percent slow type. Muscular fitness consists of the force a muscle produces in one effort and the ability to perform repeated muscle contractions in quick succession. It can be achieved by performing moderate intensity resistance workouts twice a week, lasting at least 15 minutes per session, not counting warm up and cool down. Flexibility refers to the ability of the joints to move without discomfort through their full range of motion. This varies from person to person and from joint to joint. Good flexibility offers protection to the muscles against pulls and tears, since short, tight muscles may be more likely to be overstretched. For best results, perform flexibility exercises 3 to 4 times per week.
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Don't miss this excellent book:

The Pilates Body

The Pilates Body

This is the latest in a string of books dedicated to this fitness program which offers exercises divided into beginner, intermediate and advanced levels. Each exercise is given a 2-page spread of its own and the book is perfect for anyone looking for program that promises results, requires a minimum of time and can be done at home or while traveling.


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