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Weighing the Barriers and Benefits of Exercise

Many of us understand the importance and benefits of exercise and sincerely have a desire to exercise but we have some barriers. Some of these barriers are that we feel too tired, have health problems, or believe we do not have enough time due to family, work, or school obligations. Interesting enough when you engage in a regular exercise program you actually improve the very things that limited you in the first place. Regular exercise increases your energy, improves your physical health, and helps to reduce stress so that you can better handle life’s’ situations.

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that you engage in 30 minutes or more of exercise daily or almost daily. If you cannot find the time to exercise for 30 minutes, you can do two or three sessions adding up to thirty minutes. How about exercising while doing other activities such as watching TV? You can engage in some form of seated exercise activity such as rowing, or riding a stationary bike, weight training, or stretching. Did you know that you can even exercise sitting in a chair? If you have health limitations*, exercising in a seated position yields good cardio respiratory benefits. You might also have walks after dinner, dance with your significant other or, ask your children to show you the latest dance moves. And don’t forget that taking 30 minutes during your lunch hour can really afford you an opportunity to get valuable exercise time. Joining a group or having a buddy always helps and keeps you motivated.

Now before you get out those sneakers, here are a few more tips. Plan exercise by making an appointment with yourself. More importantly have a back-up plan in the event that your first plan to exercise does not work out. By looking at the barriers and addressing them you will be able to achieve a regular exercise program. As you exercise regularly you will soon find out that the benefits of exercise far out weigh the barriers, and your life will become better.

*Note: if you are over age 40 and/or have a chronic health condition or have not exercised or seen a physician for more than a year, get a medical check up before starting a regular exercise program

Rose Jackman, MPH, is Certified Group Fitness Instructor, a Faculty Member in the Department of Sports Medicine and the Director of A Healthy Downstate Program at SUNY Downstate Medical Center.