Well, it’s mid-January: that time when resolutions begin to lose their shine and real life becomes once again…well…real life. Did you make any resolutions for the new year? How’s it going? If one of your resolutions was to get to the gym more often or to simply start working out, here’s some news that may give you a little push in the right direction. According to a recent study completed by the Cleveland Clinic, not exercising can be more detrimental to your health than smoking, diabetes, or hypertension (high blood pressure).
The study followed 122,007 patients from January 1, 1991 through December 31, 2014. Researchers studied patients through treadmill testing to measure risk of death relating to the benefits of exercise and fitness. The study showed that increased cardiorespiratory fitness was directly associated with reduced risk of death. According to Wael Jaber, M.D., Cleveland Clinic cardiologist and senior author of the study, “Being unfit on a treadmill or in an exercise stress test has a worse prognosis, as far as death, than being hypertensive, being diabetic, or being a current smoker.”
Other smaller studies have documented these findings as well, showing that lack of exercise is a major cause of chronic disease. Low cardio-respiratory fitness is a more accurate predictor of death than risk factors such as hypertension (high blood pressure), smoking, and diabetes.
Dr. Jaber of Cleveland Clinic further points out that a sedentary lifestyle should almost be treated as a disease that has a prescription. And that prescription is exercise. “Aerobic fitness is something that most patients can control, and we found in our study there is no limit to how much exercise is too much.”
Now that you know why you should exercise, here are some tips to help get you back in the game.
Start slowly. Build up your exercise program little by little. Try spacing workouts in ten-minute increments twice a day. Or try just one class each week. Commit to an exercise schedule for at least 3 or 4 weeks so that it becomes a habit and force yourself to stick with it. Stay motivated by focusing on short-term goals, such as improving your mood and energy levels and reducing stress, rather than goals such as weight loss, which can take longer to achieve.
Staying active is not a science. Remember that mixing different types of exercise helps both reduce monotony and improve your overall health. The key is to find activities that you enjoy and keep moving.