Exercise: One of the Things We Suck At

I like to move it, move it. She like to move it, move it. We like to move it, move it. We got to . . . move it! (Come on, sing along! Hah, now it’s stuck in your head.)*

The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) has published The 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee Scientific Report. The guidelines are not much different from the previous version, which suggests the science is still strongly grounded in the notion: move more, sit less. These experts (who are presumably taking their own advice) recommend that adults get at least 150 minutes to 300 minutes moderate-intensity activity each week (i.e. brisk walking), or 75 minutes to 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity (i.e. running), or a comparable combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity. The guidelines emphasize balanced workouts and recommend an additional two or more sessions of strength training a week.

In case you don’t have a calculator brain, that’s 21-42 minutes/day for the moderate-intensity and 11-21 minutes/day for high-intensity. They didn’t specify the strength training time in the articles I read, but I’m sure it has to be a little more than one set of push-ups or moving a heavy box.

Now, how many people actually do this? The results from the CDC surveys, which vary as far as sample size, but are on average surveying 20,000-30,000 people each year, are not very impressive. In other words, we suck at this. And I don’t even want to guess how many of those surveyed are being 100% honest (on the survey and with themselves) and not just reporting about their first week in January when they are in hot pursuit of their New Year’s resolutions. And what’s up with the men beating the women every year?

The benefits of exercise are so vast, it should be a crime not to participate (or at the very least health insurance should reward it–cha, ching!). Exercise has to be emphasized with everyone, including children and teens. It’s a lifestyle choice that is an investment, both short and long term. Unfortunately, those long term benefits are hard to convince people to consider every day, especially when the time and effort to do this daily has to compete with our busy lives or aches and pains and bad sleep and kids’ schedules and so on. But ultimately it will make a difference between how much time we spend at the doctor’s office or hospital or using a walker or oxygen or checking blood sugars or battling diseases. Not to mention how long we live. So excuses begone, this is a matter of life or death!

Here is the list of benefits of exercise for adults provided by JAMA. I guarantee when you are done reading this list, you will want to at least stand up and do a set of jumping jacks. (pause) I’m doing mine right now. (pause) My kids are looking at me like I’m nuts.

Adults and Older Adults

  • Lower risk of all-cause mortality
  • Lower risk of cardiovascular disease mortality
  • Lower risk of cardiovascular disease (including heart disease and stroke)
  • Lower risk of hypertension
  • Lower risk of type 2 diabetes
  • Lower risk of adverse blood lipid profile
  • Lower risk of cancers of the bladder, breast, colon, endometrium, esophagus, kidney, lung, and stomach
  • Improved cognition
  • Reduced risk of dementia (including Alzheimer disease)
  • Improved quality of life
  • Reduced anxiety
  • Reduced risk of depression
  • Improved sleep
  • Slowed or reduced weight gain
  • Weight loss, particularly when combined with reduced calorie intake
  • Prevention of weight regain after initial weight loss
  • Improved bone health
  • Improved physical function
  • Lower risk of falls (older adults)
  • Lower risk of fall-related injuries (older adults)

And Emily, RN’s last bullet point . . .

  • Less work for me.

Awesome article: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2712935

*lyrics to Will.i.am song, “I like to move it.”

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Try Something New or Live in Fear?

Have you ever thrown caution to the wind and did something that scared the crap out of you? Did you regret it? Or did you find it to be an amazing, eye-opening experience? Better yet, how often would you be willing to do that?

I read an article today about the benefits of trying new things and facing fears.The article references a study that showed people are more afraid of trying something new with unknown outcomes than they are of doing something with known bad outcomes. What? That’s like saying we’d rather go to the same old restaurant that notoriously serves bad food than to try a brand new restaurant that no one has tried yet. I suppose with an active imagination, our fear of the unknown begins to escalate. I mean, geez, what if the new restaurant starts the next e.coli epidemic? Or is secretly funding a terrorist organization? Or (gasp) becomes our new favorite restaurant only to go out of business in six months? Best stick to soggy patty melts and Maxwell House coffee than take that kind of risk.

If you’re interested, you can find the article here. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/happiness-in-world/201004/trying-new-things

In this article, the author, Alex Lickerman, has a list of things to remember before he starts something new. Unsurprisingly, the first thing is to remember that trying something new often requires courage because our biggest barrier tends to be fear. In my experience, generating courage requires me to deliberately override the natural instincts to play it safe, back off if nerves start firing, retreat when negative thoughts arise (and they will). But trying new things is a part of having an extraordinary, fulfilling life, a life that is not a string of identical days, or blocks of unmemorable weeks, or months or years stuck on repeat, doomed for repetition, an echo that just keeps on echoing.

I refuse to let that happen.

Now, I wouldn’t have joined the Air Force or flown to L.A. for a talent show (don’t get excited, I wasn’t born to be a singer), or rode The Intimidator at King’s Dominion, and I wouldn’t be reading my books out loud at the writer’s group or sending out queries for my manuscript or taking adult ballet classes (in a leotard and tights, no less) if I didn’t have a shred of courage. Trust me; it took quite a few drops of courage to do those things, to push past the fear of rejection, to push past the nerves that shook my fingers and gripped my throat, to jump on the train bound for adventure into the unknown, holding onto the back with eyes closed and sweaty palms and thinking about how easy and comfortable it would be to just let go. Sorry, I got a little dramatic there; with that kind of analogy, you’d think I was doing something more courageous than squeezing into tights for ballet class every week. But that’s also my point. I want more. I still see similar days and safe plans and the same shade of lipstick for fifteen years and repeat races on my running calendar and extremely comparable work days (repetitive chaos for 13 hours with no lunch most of the time), and I haven’t truly tested my limits and grasped for extraordinary, mind-blowing, unfathomable ideas in my writing. I still have too much fear.

In conclusion, every day I need to do something new, preferably something that scares the piss out of me, and it has to be more than using a cuss word in a blog.

But, shit, that’s a start.

What about you, readers? What is your experience with trying new things, or building up courage to step out of your comfort zone?

Inspired by the word of the day: Repress