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Is exercise worth it?

Comments (6)
By Peter Hadzipetros

A thought rattled around my empty brain as I battled a 50-kilometre per hour headwind on an 11-kilometre run into work this morning.

What the hell am I doing? Even the sun appeared to have second thoughts about rising.

Yeah, conditions were far from ideal. I could just as easily have headed into the basement and run on the treadmill — wearing shorts. Or I could've hit the snooze button and let the sound of the howling wind lull me into a few more precious winks.

Thing is, if I wanted to get my exercise in today it had to be in the morning. Thank you schedule.

In the grand scheme of things, missing one 11 K run won't leave you any less fit. Missing that one workout probably won't make a difference in your final result, if you're doing something like training for a marathon.

And some days it can be a little easier to brush off that workout, especially when you come across news stories that hint that while exercise has its benefits, those benefits may be oversold.

That's right — getting fit might not extend your life, ward off heart disease, or reduce your cholesterol levels. It might, but it might not.

Or — if you've just turned over a new leaf and promised this is the year that you're going to morph your sedentary self into a more active being — you may be hitting that point where your fitness commitment is wavering. Maybe you've taken seriously that made-up math equation declaring the third Monday in January the most depressing day of the year. The day that you realize that you won't instantly get fit and that you'll probably have plenty of time to watch the recession unfold on that big-screen TV that pushed your credit card to the limit at Christmas.

It can be demoralizing when you realize that making a New Year's resolution won't change your life. The resolution is your goal and you have to have a plan to achieve it. Nutritionist Andrea Holwegner lists four small changes you can make to your eating habits to achieve big results.

That's right — small changes lead to big results. Getting from the starting point to your goal may seem like a huge task, until you break it down into smaller, measurable goals. As you begin achieving each of those smaller goals, you realize you can get to your major goal, whether you're training for a marathon or trying to lose 20 pounds.

It may be the most important thing you learn when you start an exercise regime or a training program. Achieving goals keeps you motivated.

It's no fun to fight the wind on a cold morning. That one workout likely won't improve your physical fitness — but getting through it may do something for your mental fitness. You've earned the satisfaction of knowing that you kept a promise to yourself.

And it makes that tub of coffee and greasy breakfast sandwich taste a little better, too.

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Comments (6)

Samantha

Hi, I feel like that when i take my swimming lessons in the rain but I still take my swimming lessons even though it's raining because i feel that i should. In the morning i have alot of energy.

Bye thanks for listening

Posted March 1, 2008 07:38 PM

Bruce

Toronto

This news story that exercise does not confer benefits is an example of American news shading the facts. The reality is, most surveys do not report accurate levels of physical activity. Most people are more sedentary than they will admit, or they misrepresent their exertion. As someone who has run a half marathon and has had rowing training, there is a big difference in what people think their exertion is and what the reality is. More exercise and increasing intensity will not hurt many people. If people exercised sincerley every day and saw their doctor yearly, the health of our nation would improve allot. Cut back one hour of TV time and add one hour of exercise time and you will see results. As well we need more training on how to exercise properly. People of higher education and income levels have access to personal trainers, better schools for PE (tennis and skiing lessons) and better access to nutrition. Notice poorer areas have no people walking?

Posted January 23, 2008 06:17 PM

Lance

Calgary

Good article Peter! I had a good chuckle to myself over your opening 2 sentences. I've often had the very same thoughts. I'm a resident of Calgary and have been a year round bicycle commuter for about 7 years now. I credit a city transit strike for my rediscovering the joy of cycling and by extension, the positive effects of staying fit. Yes there are days when I wonder what the hell I'm doing on my bicycle at 7 a.m. in minus 18 degree weather with a brisk north wind blowing to add to the "ambience". But then I think about what I'm missing; being trapped standing on a bus or C Train for a half hour with the choice of positioning my nose mid stream of some hung over dudes garlic breath or 3 inches away from an oversized and unbathed construction workers armpit...and then I smile and cycle on.

Posted January 22, 2008 02:05 PM

Jodie Mulder

Peterborough

If you have any questions about how exercise affects serious illness you need to check out this blog
www.neverfeltbetter.blogspot.com This man has cancer and is still exercising daily even when he is doing chemotherapy. He is an inspiration to all who lives he has touched.

Posted January 21, 2008 01:56 PM

Melanie

Toronto

This post makes me feel better. I missed my long run on Sunday A) because I thought I was coming down with something and B) because it was just too freakin cold. I haven't had a longer run in a bit so I'm going to have a bit of a slog back into LSD but at the same time, I think my body might have benefited from the break.

Your post supports another perspective I saw in Runner's World this month about stress and illness - namely, that distance runners put a lot more stress on their immune system and have to balance that out with an immune-supporting diet and, most importantly, balance between increased speed/distance (you're not supposed to do both at once).

Moderation is an important message - thanks for reminding us all of that.

Posted January 21, 2008 12:09 PM

Yvie

Guelph

I've been an avid exerciser for years. Baloney that exercise offers few benefits. All I know is that I'm fit, trim, and have the stamina and strength to do the things I want to do.

Small changes have a big impact. People, in my humble opinion, need to do some exercise everyday, in some form, rather than exert themselves 3 times a week. It's better to walk briskly for half an hour everyday than run 2 miles every other day, at least in the beginning. It is the EXERCISE HABIT that counts.

Good luck to everyone,
Yvie

Posted January 20, 2008 09:40 AM

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