Dr W. on Getting to the Gym
By Dr. Sven W., MD
The buzz word today is exercise. Forget the cardiovascular effects of exercise, everyone applauds it. Now research confirms that it helps with depression, anxiety, sleep disorders, memory, and of course weight loss. Most important! You look better as well as feel better. However, you need to determine what type of exercise is right for you. Anaerobic vs aerobic, running? cycling? weights? pilates? yoga? The list is endless. Group exercise vs solitary exercise? In fact, it is all good.
Define what your goals are. If you want a cardiovascular effect you need to add the aerobic pathway. If you want to maintain and even increase muscle strength and balance then you need a weights or pilates directed avenue.
Aging has a progressive and unrelenting effect on muscle mass. On average, once you pass that 50 year mark you lose 1% muscle mass per year. Do the math, and by age 70 you can be down 10-20%. That has a profound detrimental effect on strength and balance. Can you reverse it? No one has the answer. However, with the use of repetitive and resistant weights you may be able to at least halt the process. I think it is worth the effort and investment. You won’t buff up but at least you may avoid the “skinny legs in short”s look. Ugh!
There are three personality types that surface when it comes to exercise.
1. The loner. This type likes getting up in the morning and taking the long run or jog. He is happy in his own company.
3. The groupie. The third most common type, the herd personality. He or she wants the gym experience – the exercise class filled with people led by an instructor (shepherd) who tells you what to do and you follow like everyone else. You follow the herd. That’s me. I love being around people, getting that electric feeling of exercising with others and maybe, sometimes, even competing with them.
They all work. You just need to decide what suits you best. Some people love the social aspect of the gym, meeting new people and making gym friends, dressing up with “fabulous sneakers“ or need the “great outfit“, where’d you get it?” reaction.
The lone runner can jog to the gym for 30 minutes and jog 30 minutes on the rebound. No reason to even go in. Saves on monthly fees, still gets him to the gym and most importantly gets the job done.
It all works as long as you do something.
Inactivity is making us fat and sick. Are overweight people less healthy? Not to point a finger but, you do know obesity is associated with high blood pressure, diabetes and this new metabolic syndrome phenomena. The U.S. and the Western world in general, have with each decade become less and less active. You expend fewer and fewer calories everyday due to technology. Thirty years ago you actually had to get up and walk to the kitchen or den to answer the phone, and you had to get up to change the television channel. You had to walk up to the air conditioner to turn it on. Do people even remember that shirts and pants had to be ironed or you had to walk to the corner store to buy a newspaper? On and on. The average American expends 500 – 1000 fewer calories per day with daily living than we did when we were teens or in our twenties. Our girth has increased concomitantly. The universal size chart keeps changing. You may like the smaller numbers, size 8 is the new size 6, but it may not be good for us. The obesity epidemic is everywhere and it affects all ages.
We cannot change the times, but we can do something for ourselves and burn more calories. We owe it to ourselves and the future. Get to the gym, walk there, run there, bike there, but get there you must.
Next time we talk about ways to burn calories in the new millennia.