So it’s been a while. Since we last talked a little bit about dieting, the next logical topic is exercise. I want to preface this by saying I may offend some of you on this one. Sorry in advance. Just keep reading and you’ll understand my viewpoint. I think I need to define exercise for some of you. Exercise is an activity requiring physical effort, carried out to sustain or improve health and fitness. To me the key words are “requiring effort”. If what you are doing really doesn’t require much effort then I am sorry, it just isn’t exercise. Walking your dog, playing golf, these are leisurely activities but sorry they are not exercise. I see people every day that flat out hate exercising. They make every excuse in the world why they don’t want to or need to exercise. Or worse they try and fool themselves into believing the effort they put forth while walking their ten pound dog constitutes exercise. It does not.

Let’s just get real. Bodies NEED exercise. Bodies need to move with effort. It is an essential part of health for the body. It’s one of the four basic things a body needs to function well. So what are those four basic needs? Sleep. Water. Food. Exercise . Have you ever broken a bone and been in a cast? If you have, you know what happens to the body part that’s in the cast. It withers away. It literally shrinks and becomes almost nonfunctional. Bodies are meant to move with effort. If they don’t they will stop functioning properly. Park a car in a garage for four months then try to get it to drive again. It’s going to be difficult. The exact same thing happens with a body. Take on a sedentary lifestyle of just sitting there barely moving and the body will have a hard time doing simple basic things. Like getting up out of a chair. Trust me I see it every day.

But you can get it going again. The other morning I was working out at my gym when I saw David. He was banging out pull ups. David is turning seventy. I know guys in their 40’s that can’t do pull ups. How come David can still do them? He keeps his body moving. That’s all it takes. Consistency . That’s the second thing to any successful exercise program. David is there at the gym all the time.

So what’s the first thing to a successful exercise program? Starting . Just arrive. Just start. Now! Pick a time and set the date and start. Not in three weeks. Now. The trick is to really look at your schedule and work it in. I personally prefer the mornings. Why? Because I am a realist. I am not going to exercise after work. But that’s me. Do you. What is real for you? If you’re not a morning person then don’t force yourself to be one. You will hate doing it.

The third thing for a successful exercise program is the correct gradient. A gradient is a gradual increase in the effort and duration of your exercise program. Here is where a lot of people make their mistake. They haven’t moved their body in years and the first of January they go out and do a five mile run. And then they are done. For the year! Start slow. I personally recommend working on flexibility, stretching, range of motion and strength when starting. Then gradually increasing the intensity or effort of these things as you add to whatever sport or activities you chose to do. For instance say you like tennis and played on your high school team and want to relive your glory days. Do not just go get a racket, join a club and play five sets on the first of January. That likely will be the last time you play until next January. The answer is to do things gradually on a gradient. Program it out. Give yourself four weeks to get on a court. Work on the flexibility, stretching, range of motion and strength before you play like Serena Williams. Doing your exercise program on a gradient makes it highly likely you will continue and enjoy what you’re doing.

Purpose or goals are the last thing I want to mention. You have to really define for yourself why you are doing this in the first place. You have to have some purpose or goals you are working towards. This is essential. If you don’t have a defined purpose that is real for you, then you will lose interest very quickly. Think music lessons as a child. If you had no purpose or goal in playing the piano how excited were you when the music teacher showed up. Exactly. You absolutely have to have a purpose behind your game. If it’s to look good for your twenty year school reunion then so be it. It’s purpose. You will actually stick to it. Now here’s the trick. You have to keep setting new goals and purposes. Once you reach that twenty year reunion and stun everyone, set a new goal. That’s the trick. Keep setting goals. You will achieve them.

Hope this helps. And as always if you need any additional help please stop by the clinic. Also I want to mention that we will be doing our biggest loser competition in the coming months, so definitely look out for our emails.

Rich Wallace MD

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