Sunday, July 11, 2010

Curious about Exercise: How Important? How Often? How Hard? How Long? What Kind?

Definition of Exercise: Exertion for the sake of training or improvement whether physical, intellectual, or moral; practice to acquire skill, knowledge, virtue, perfectness, grace, etc. That which is done for the sake of exercising, practicing, training, or promoting skill, health, mental, improvement, moral discipline, etc.

Leave all the afternoon for exercise and recreation, which are as necessary as reading. I will rather say more necessary because health is worth more than learning. Walking is the best possible exercise. Habituate yourself to walk very fast.” - Thomas Jefferson, American President

You may have guessed by now that exercise is one of my top, favorite subjects. Because I teach 12 group fitness classes a week, I am always bringing at least one book on health, nutrition, and exercise home from the library every trip. These are mainly books on CDs that I listen to in the car.

This week’s book is Younger Next Year for Women: Live Strong, Fit, and Sexy - Until You're 80 and Beyond by Chris Crowley, Henry S. Lodge M.D., and Gail Sheehy. You can find out more about it at

The focus of the book is health for those of us 50 and older - both women and men. Toward the very beginning we learn “Harry’s (the doctor) number one rule: exercise six days a week!” The information is excellent and up-to-date. Chris and Harry explain – in detail – the important hows and whys. One part that I especially appreciate is all about starting (slowly), working at one’s own pace, and finding our different fitness levels.

Of course, I was not surprised to find a plethora of good and meaningful quotations about exercise, so let’s share:

  • In terms of fitness and battling through cancer, exercise helps you stay strong physically and mentally.” - Grete Waitz, Norwegian athlete
  • In times of life crisis, whether wild fires or smoldering stress, the first thing I do is go back to basics... am I eating right, am I getting enough sleep, am I getting some physical and mental exercise everyday.” - Edward Albert, American actor
  • In youth, we get plenty of exercise through games and running around, but as middle life approaches, we settle down, literally and figuratively.” - Gene Tunney, American athlete
  • Never hurry. Take plenty of exercise. Always be cheerful. Take all the sleep you need. You may expect to be well.” - James Freeman Clarke, American clergyman
  • Nothing lifts me out of a bad mood better than a hard workout on my treadmill. It never fails. Exercise is nothing short of a miracle.” – Cher, American actress
  • True enjoyment comes from activity of the mind and exercise of the body; the two are ever united.” - Wilhelm von Humboldt, German educator

And a few more:

  • If you're asking your kids to exercise, then you better do it, too. Practice what you preach.” - Bruce Jenner, American athlete
  • Imagination grows by exercise, and contrary to common belief, is more powerful in the mature than in the young.” - W. Somerset Maugham, British playwright
  • I really believe the only way to stay healthy is to eat properly, get your rest and exercise. If you don't exercise and do the other two, I still don't think it's going to help you that much.” - Mike Ditka, American coach
  • If we could give every individual the right amount of nourishment and exercise, not too little and not too much, we would have found the safest way to health.” – Hippocrates, Greek scientist
  • Turn resolutely to work, to recreation, or in any case to physical exercise till you are so tired you can't help going to sleep, and when you wake up you won't want to worry.” - B. C. Forbes, Scottish journalist
  • Exercise is really important to me - it's therapeutic. So if I'm ever feeling tense or stressed or like I'm about to have a meltdown, I'll put on my iPod and head to the gym or out on a bike ride along Lake Michigan with the girls.” - Michelle Obama, American First Lady

So, listen to the wise words of the experts. And let me know what your favorite form of exercise is.