Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Exercise should be mandatory.

It’s 3:00pm on Sunday afternoon and I know I need to get out & active. A solid work week + parenting two high energy boys + logging hours of exercise quickly adds up. As I make my way through the hood into the trails I encounter all types of people also getting out and active. Different sizes, different shapes, different ages and different types of activity at different intensities. I find this reassuring and make sure I acknowledge them as I walk / jog or run by. I’m not plugged into anything because for the next two hours I don’t want to be plugged into anything. I need a distraction free environment to organize my thoughts & process any negative energy that’s built up. If you’re a regular exerciser, you can relate.

Exercise yields more than just physical benefits, there are mental benefits as well. Exercise releases natural endorphins. Endorphins are chemicals that make you feel good (similar to the synthetic chemicals found in coffee’s sweetened foods & cigarettes except they are natural and won't harm you long term). When I wake up every Monday morning and drop my kid off at practice, I head to the track or hop on a bike and take advantage of the time I have to be there anyway. What am I going to do WATCH my son practice? 

It troubles me to see people chugging coffee’s, inhaling cigarettes and wolfing down fast food to start their days. While they are probably thinking & saying the same thing about my choices, my choices aren’t costing them money. I visit the doctors office once every 2-3 years to ensure there are no surprises (physical) and for emergencies, MAYBE once every 7 years when there’s something serious. This doesn’t make me better than those who don’t exercise, this simply makes me cheaper. Moving away from judgment, my wish is more people take up exercising. We’ve heard the excuses, we know it’s work, but in the end is it that much more work than leading an unhealthy life? Probably not. I’d like to see a point in time where exercise is mandatory or at least socially mandated, like getting an education, tipping after meals etc.

We don’t require another study to highlight the benefits and we don’t need to look to long or too hard at the adverse effects of not exercising. We need incentives for people to make healthy choices, accountability around their healthy pursuits and follow ups 4 times / year or 2 times / year on how they are doing.

So why not start with our circle of family friends and begin to make exercise a mandatory part of our routines.

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