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Exercise ... The Best Medicine?
By Naperville Personal Trainer Nicki Andersen

certified personal fitness trainer from  Cncinnati, Ohio, Brian Calkins

Nicki Andersen has spent the last 15 years trying to shift the way people view diet and exercise. Nicki believes that exercise has become punishment for an imperfect body. It seems that exercise is perceived to be for the elite athlete or thin person. As a fitness professional, she feels that it is her responsibility to introduce exercise as something that is positive and life enhancing. More often than not people view exercise and sound nutrition as an all or nothing proposition.

Exercise...The Best Medicine?

By Nicki Anderson

We all know about the benefits of exercise, right? For a country that is told time and time again the benefits of regular exercise, why then are we still tied to our computers?

Part of the reason is the belief that popping a pill or swiggin' down a teaspoon of medicine seems much easier than the actual ritual of exercise. After all, with exercise you have to wear special clothes, have decent shoes and worst of all, you have to sweat! For many there is no choice to be made, why work up a sweat when you can simply take a pill and go back to channel checking?

Here's the reality, pills, liquids or gadgets will never take the place of actual exercise, ever. Medicine does more to treat the symptom vs. addressing the root of the problem. You see exercise can actually serve to prevent the problems before they begin. Granted there are certain situations where medicine is the only alternative, but generally speaking, exercise can work wonders.

According to Mort Malkin, author of Walking: The Pleasure Exercise and Aerobic Walking: Weight-Loss Exercise, "After just 3 weeks of actual aerobic exercise (actual meaning getting up off your bottom and moving fast enough to breathe heavier than normal) a number of pretty impressive changes begin to take root. Those changes include improved blood pressure, improved balance, and increased blood flow to muscles. The end result is better overall function of your body and risk reduction for diseases such as Hypertension, Type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, obesity, mild to moderate depression and chronic fatigue".

O.K. so maybe that doesn't impress you much because you don't have high blood pressure or diabetes, but maybe you're at risk. Just think, exercise can stop those diseases before they begin.

In addition to the physical benefits of exercise, consider the mental benefits, which are so obvious that when you become consistent it's a wonder we're not all walking around singing, "Where is the Love!"

You see, after a great walk, endorphins kick in and well, you feel great mainly because exercise plays with your brain chemistry, in a good way. Think of laughter, when you laugh you feel so much better, that's endorphins kicking in (like a little dance going on in your brain) which encourages positive feelings. A similar action takes place with exercise. Studies have clearly shown that when engaged in regular aerobic activity, mood elevation increases, energy levels increase and self-confidence increases right along with self-esteem and lower anxiety levels. You see, exercise isn't just about overcrowded exercise classes or boring repetitive movements, exercise does as much for the body as the mind and spirit.

It's a shame that people only look to exercise when considering weight loss, when in fact, if you focused on getting healthy first the weight would adjust and be where it needs to be.

Unfortunately, still over 60% of the population maintains an arsenal full of excuses explaining why exercise just isn't in the cards. The fact remains(according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey) that an estimated 61% of U.S. adults are either overweight or obese. Understand that being overweight or obese doesn't just mean that you're fat, it also means you're not fit which plays havoc with your body and mind, not good.

However, YOU are responsible for taking that first step and you really have to want to, sort of like quitting smoking. It won't happen until you're ready.

Exercise covers so many bases that to limit it to just weight loss is minimizing the amazing impact it can really have in your life. Here is the good news; physical activity need not be overly strenuous to achieve benefits. Men and women of all ages benefit from a moderate amount of physical activity. It seems new research continues to come out calling for at least an hour of exercise per day. Unfortunately, that's when everyone throws in the towel saying, "Who's got an hour to exercise?" So I always encourage a reasonable starting point which in my opinion is better than nothing, right? Sure, greater benefits can be achieved with longer bouts of physical activity but to start with a realistic time frame will do more to getting you on track than demanding an hour right out of the shoot. What's reasonable time frame? I'd say no less than 15 minutes. Just remember to be sure and check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program. There is no pill or medicine in existence that can do as much as exercise to improve the quality of life by preventing serious disease. So here are a few ways to fit in the ever challenging exercise bouts. Granted, they may not be as easy as a pill but the price and benefits far outweigh the cost of a prescription or hospital stay.

Schedule your exercise time the way you would any other appointment. If it's written down, you'll stick to it.
Track an average week and see how much time is your "down" time. Commit the following week to taking 2 hours of that down time and turning it into walking, strength training, classes, etc.
Put your money where your mouth is! Bet a best friend or co-worker (each week) $5.00 or $10.00 that you can be consistent with your exercise goals. If you lose, you pay, if you win you get plenty of kudos AND cash!
Find an accountability buddy. Maybe going it alone isn't enough for you. Women tend to need the accountability of someone asking them how they're doing maybe that will be what works for you.
Set a fun week for yourself that includes a lot of physical activity. Go rollerblading with a friend through the park. Sign up for a charity walk, buy a new bike, get a new pair of walking or running shoes.
Understand that you will have weeks that are "off" and that is O.K. Just pick yourself back up and get moving again. Never doubt that a little of something is better than nothing at all. At the end of the day, it's all about you and your health. Discover something great about your body, start exercising and it will amaze you. Let me know how it goes at I love hearing your success stories.


Nicki Anderson, IDEA Master Trainer is the author of "Reality Fitness; Inspiration for Your Health and Well-being". She is the health and fitness columnist for Suburban Chicago Newspapers as well as a family fitness contributor for eDiets. She is a certified personal trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). Nicki sits on the IHRSA Entrepreneurial Advisory Board, the Personal Training Committee for IDEA and USA Today’s Entrepreneurial Advisory Board.

Nicki speaks all over the country, teaching other health and fitness professionals about the value of customer service, an art she feels has been overlooked far too long by the health and fitness industry. Nicki says, “If we are to inspire others to become fit, we have to present the opportunity as an equal opportunity endeavor!”


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