Regular Exercise Leads to a Happier, Healthier Life

PJ Hamel Health Guide
  • Exercise is good for you; you should exercise more. Yeah, yeah, blah blah blah. Are you sick of hearing about exercise and how it does everything from promote weight loss to prevent cancer? Did you ever stop and think the reason you might be tired of hearing the message is because you’re feeling guilty for not LISTENING?

    OK, any reasonable woman knows exercise is good for her. And you’re a reasonable woman. But a million obstacles stand in the way every time the thought of going for a walk, joining a gym, or stepping onto the little-used treadmill in the cellar pops into your mind. Walk? Takes too long. At this time of year, it’s too cold. Gym? Too expensive. Don’t like the “gym scene.” Too far away.
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    Treadmill down cellar… hmmm, what’s the excuse for that one? Boring? Takes away from quality family time? You can make any excuse you want, but the fact is, when you DON’T exercise you’re putting everything and everyone else ahead of yourself. And in the long run, that’s hurting the ones you love the most: your friends and family, who’ll surely be unhappy when you fall ill to any of the host of maladies that are more likely to overtake you when you don’t exercise–including breast cancer.

    A report by a group of researchers at the University of Wisconsin, appearing in the February issue of Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention, shows that “exercise has a protective effect against invasive breast cancer throughout a woman’s lifetime.” Researchers posit various theories for the finding that invasive breast cancer is reduced 23 percent in women (without a family history of breast cancer) who exercise, based on a survey of 15,000 women in Wisconsin, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts. And most have to do with estrogen: the less exposure a woman has to estrogen throughout her life, the less likely she is to develop breast cancer. Girls who exercise heavily are generally older at the time of their first period (less estrogen). If they keep exercising as adults, they tend to have more irregular periods, and a shortened estrogen-producing phase. Post-menopausal women who exercise have lower levels of estrogen. Get the picture? “The take-home message for women should be that it’s never too late to begin exercising,” said Brian Sprague, lead author of the study.

    In addition, a study released this month in the British Medical Journal shows that group exercise has a positive effect on women undergoing treatment for early-stage breast cancer. Women who attended exercise classes together twice a week during treatment made fewer visits to the doctor, spent less time in the hospital, and were in better shape, both physically and psychologically, than women who didn’t take part in exercise classes.

    “Ya gotta wanna” is the key here. Until you’re ready to value yourself–your life, your health–as much as you value the well-being of those around you, yeah, finding time to exercise will be tough. But if you’re ready to make a move–to MOVE–there are all kinds of painless ways to start. Walk up and down the stairs with your headphones on. Tell yourself you can ONLY watch TV or indulge your passion for trashy novels if you’re on the treadmill. Walk two miles to town so you can treat yourself to an expensive cup of gourmet coffee. Find a friend, buy a Pilates DVD, and laugh yourselves silly as you tie yourselves into knots on the living room floor. Start slow, but start. Today. Get up right now and walk around the room. Heck, even fidgeting has been shown to burn calories… I guarantee you’ll feel better once you start. Plus, once you actually listen to the exercise message, you’ll no longer feel guilty hearing it!
Published On: February 20, 2007