Most concede, “Exercise is good for you.” Each year Americans spend over $30 billion on supplements. But no supplement or organic food comes even close to exercise’s benefits. Evidence demonstrates that “all types and degrees of physical activity protect or probably protect against common cancers” – including colon, breast, and endometrial (uterine).
Many interject, “I just don’t have time.” Can you spare a minute? Just fifteen minutes of exercise per day reduces your risk of death by 14%. The Economist cheekily observes, “One sure giveaway of quack medicine is the claim that a product can treat any ailment. There are, sadly, no panaceas. But some things come close, and exercise is one of them.”
To some, the word exercise connotes strenuous activity, the realm of athletes and Olympians. Experts denounce this notion. Gardening, chores, taking the stairs instead of elevators, and walking all classify as quality exercise. Twenty-two minutes per day should be the bare minimum.
Walking is the most versatile exercise. Its benefits sound like quack medicine. “Walking could ward off dementia and mental decline.” A mile a day (15 to 20 minutes) cuts your risk in half. “Walking boosts memory power.” This study found that the hippocampus – the brain region responsible for memory and emotion – grows in regular walkers. It shrinks in the indolent. The lead researcher concluded, “We think of the atrophy of the hippocampus in later life as almost inevitable. But we've shown that even moderate exercise for one year can increase the size of that structure.”
Exercise: There’s many apps for that. Nike Training Club is one of the best free ones. It is ideal for small spaces, such as a bedroom, or for when your host cultural disproves of outdoor activity. Choose your level: beginner, intermediate, or advanced, and a personal trainer will guide you through 15 to 45 minutes of strengthening, stretching, and cardio.
There are many excellent YouTube exercise channels for all fitness levels. Here's one of our favourites, which happens to be hosted by a Canadian: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCpQ34afVgk8cRQBjSJ1xuJQ
Interval training dramatically improves fitness. The regime was originally designed to train professional athletes, but it's now becoming increasingly popular for amateurs. It works for any sport; you can use it in conjunction with skipping ropes, stairs, and jumping jacks. You simply alternate a period of low intensity with a period of higher intensity. Below is a simple example:
5-minute warm up (light jog, low intensity, gradually increasing at the end of the warm up period)
1-minute moderate or high intensity followed by 1-minute low intensity. Repeat 6 - 8 times.
5-minute cool down (light jog, low intensity, gradually decreasing by the end of the cool down period)
Above all, enjoy yourself. Pick an activity that suits your personality and abilities. By persevering, you can master the art of physical activity.
"A man ought to take exercise not because he is too fat, but because he loves hunting or horses or high mountains, and love them for their own sake." – G. K. Chesterton, Heretics