Engrained into our public consciousness is the mantra that exercise is good for us. Although research has proven that exercise is a smaller contributor to weight loss as opposed to adopting healthy food choices, exercise carries far too many health benefits for it to be ignored even if it may not reduce your waistline. But, increasingly I hear people saying that they simple can't find the time to exercise.
Changing habits as we get older
Sixteen years ago, at the age of 24 I decided to start exercising and nervously joined my local gym in Kentish Town, North London. The main reason for this change in lifestyle, as hitherto I had not been a particular sporty person, was to avoid long term illness. The occasional walk up a flight of stairs was totally exhausting and my friends and peers, not only started to look fatter and older but they were already getting symptoms from the lack of exercise, indulgence in rich high calorific foods and weekend binge drinking e.g. high blood pressure, palpitations, kidney infections and swollen livers. Being somewhat vain I wanted to regain my youthful looks and energy and decided action was required.
Exercise is a necessity for good health
Seventeen years later I remain a regular exerciser, perhaps missing only a week or two across that time due to illness. Perhaps you are thinking that I am different to you and that I absolutely love exercise. I don't. In fact, sometimes, I positively dread the prospect of hauling myself up to the gym but if I want to maintain my youthfulness and have a more comfortable old age to look forward to, it is a necessity. So, finding the time is something I have to do.
How long do you need to exercise to get health benefits?
Like many other people, I have a regular job, that is tiring and the impetus to exercise is sometimes hard but I tell myself this: it's only 30 minutes, 50 minutes at max, depending on my session. That's it. 30 minutes really isn't that long compared to the health benefits you can achieve in such a short space of time. Think about how we waste time so easily; watching television, day dreaming, procrastinating even when we could be doing something very beneficial for our health.
Watch TV or exercise? Why not do both?
A recent piece of research conducted in Queensland, Australia suggested that for each hour of television watched, our life expectancy was reduced by 22 minutes, whilst another study found that for every 15 minutes of daily exercise conducted expectancy increased by up to 3 years. I will let you study the maths here but you can easily see that you can have somewhat of a trade-off and still watch television as long as you partake in exercise.
Finding the time to exercise
The reluctance to exercise based on lack of time is, in my view, just another excuse. It doesn't have to be particularly lengthy. For a cardio session to be beneficial, especially if you employ high intensity training into your workouts, you can receive benefits from 10 - 15 minutes each time. For a weights session, if you break up body areas e.g. upper and lower body, you can be done in 25 - 30 minutes with super setting (e.g. active rest so as soon as you have done a chest exercise, you do a back exercise instead of sitting on a machine waiting doing nothing) which increases metabolism and increases bone density.
Not everything we do can be avoided
Most of us, if we could would rather not have to go to work for 8 or so hours each day but we need to out of necessity, to pay our bills. Many of us find daily routines a chore e.g. brushing our teeth but we have to do them if we wish to maintain a healthy smile. Similarly, we need to think of exercise as a necessity, for a longer, healthier, more comfortable older age. Can you still not find the time?