Exercise for the Athletically-Challenged

Exercise for the Athletically-Challenged

Athletically-challenged. That’s me.

I was always the last one picked for the kickball teams at recess during elementary school. The only extracurricular team sport I ever participated in was my neighborhood swim team during the summer between fifth and sixth grades. I was slow and almost always finished dead-last in the races I swam in that summer. I got a third place ribbon in one meet that summer and I felt like I won an Olympic gold medal in swimming.

My problems with sports and exercise continued into high school and college. I took the one-year of required PE in high school and the required two semesters of PE in college, but I did not gain much more athletic ability. I took tennis and golf lessons and played a bit with friends, but was very bad. After I graduated from college I did not exercise for years because I did not enjoy it and was busy with work and family life.

Then my forties hit.

After having two children and an aging metabolism, I began to gain some weight. Now I realized that I needed to exercise on a regular basis. I began to participate in the programs offered by my employer’s fitness and wellness center. After a few years I was given management responsibility for the Wellness Center as part of my job duties. Now I had an extra reason to learn about how exercise was beneficial for each of us.

Here are a few reasons you should exercise, even if you are athletically-challenged like me.

Exercise has been shown to help prevent diabetes and heart disease. Regular exercise reduces blood sugar in diabetics. (Source)  

​If you are insulin sensitive, are prediabetic, have high blood sugar or cholesterol, or have any family history of diabetes, make sure and do some type of exercise at least three to four times a week.

Exercise, especially weight-bearing exercise, can help prevent osteoporosis. 

The elderly are especially at risk for osteoporosis which can lead to falls and broken bones. I have a family-history of this and I want to keep my muscles and bones strong as I age.

Exercise can help preserve mental function.

A recent study looked at aerobic exercise and memory and found that the people who exercised more had better memory. (Source) Other studies have shown that exercise can likely prevent Alzheimer's disease from developing or slow its progression in at least the early stages.  

Exercise can reduce your stress.

It has been shown both to treat depression and to prevent it. Other studies have shown that increased sedentary behavior was associated with increased levels of anxiety. I certainly would rather take a walk than take a pill for depression or anxiety. (Source) (Source)

According to Chris Kresser in The Paleo Cure, outdoor exercise is even better for you than indoor exercise. When you exercise outdoors the sunlight helps increase the level of vitamin D in your body. Exercising in nature soothes your body and your mind. Outdoor exercise is also generally more strenuous due to changing terrain and wind. People have also been shown to increase their exercise time by exercising outdoors. I love to walk outside in my neighborhood or on the golf course which is in my backyard. Because this is South Carolina and it is hot and humid in the summer, I generally walk outside in the early morning.

Sarah Ballentyne suggests low intensity exercises for those with health issues in her book The Paleo Approach. Walking, swimming, yoga and tai chi are all examples of lower intensity exercises. As your stamina and fitness improve, you can take on more challenging programs.

How to Eat, Move and Be Healthy by Paul Chek includes instructions for quite a few different types of exercise. He suggests that the components of a well-rounded exercise program include flexibility, core conditioning, resistance training as well as aerobic training. I was helped with a personalized program this past spring by Carolyn McCoy trainer with Heath Fit in Aiken.

If you can’t afford personal training, you can always use workout videos or books. What would you say if I told you over 35 world-class fitness experts were joining forces and practically giving away 50 of their most essential teaching resources to help you get in the best shape of your life? You’d probably say I’m crazy. But I’m telling you, that’s exactly what’s happening next week with the Freedom Fitness Bundle. The entire package is worth $1,850, but starting Wednesday August 23, it’s only $47 to pick up your own copy of the bundle. I will share more details about what is in it next week.

Come on, get up today and move! What types of exercise have you found to work best for you? Comment below and share with other readers.

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