Monday, July 9, 2012

Is society too Out of Shape for exercise?

Almost everybody knows of one person who hates to exercise.  We probably all know at least 5 or 6 people who laugh at exercise and say the most they’ll ever do are Curls.  12 ounces, with a beer can.  America’s waistlines are expanding everyday and consumption of food is rising even faster.  What is frightening is that exercise and mobility participation has been left in the dust without a second thought.

Until one day when disease or illness strikes causing the emotional pain of being sedentary and unhealthy to create feelings of embarrassment and sadness.  It is at this moment that most people decide to start an exercise program.  But is it already too late? Or, are they doing it wrong?

Most people who are overweight, unhealthy and sedentary will first look to books at Amazon or articles online to find out what they should do.  Every day they see ads for a diet program or a piece of exercise equipment that promises immediate results with a carved midsection.  Some people read a little smarter and further so they join their local Health Club to use the treadmill, stair climber, and lat pull down machine.

With the fast paced society we live in, new and exciting information is released almost daily.  People starting an exercise routine see this information and are sucked in by the headlines promising something better than what they currently are doing.  Wanting the fastest results possible we jump from 4 week program to 4 week program before we even finish the first week.  All of the information coming out so fast creates chaos in the eyes and mind of the consumer.  Mixed feelings about what is right and what is wrong cloud their thoughts and make the possibility of committing an error much more likely.  Some people get so overwhelmed by the information that they quit right there on the spot and say “it’s too complicated.”  Others keep skipping across the internet going from program to program and end up hurt because they went too far with something they had NO business doing.

In the past 20 years there has been an alarming increase of injuries at the workplace, on the sports fields, and at home.  Knee injuries, back injuries, and headaches are 3 of the most common types of complaints heard in the medical field.  These increases are causing overwhelming situations at many doctor’s offices and hospitals.  This doesn’t even include the vast increases in diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and obesity.  What is even more disturbing is that a majority of these cases are sedentary people who do not exercise.  What will happen when these injured and sedentary people decide to get fit, hire a personal trainer, join a gym, or buy a product they saw on television?

Over 60 percent of Americans are too sedentary to begin exercise programs.  A huge number of gym members have no business spending their money at a fitness center.  We do not have the proper conditioning to engage in a fitness program aimed at losing weight or building muscle nor should we focus on mainstream fad diets and quick fix solutions.

What should we do then?

Here is a simple test.  Go in your home where you have a stair case and walk up and down it for five minutes.  At the end of the five minutes if you are barely standing with your hands on your knees, gasping for air, you have no right doing any type of weight training or cardio machine workout.  You need to develop your base of conditioning and this will take some time.

This example, sadly, is the normal outcome for a big portion of our country. Participating in an exercise program with a body that has a poorly conditioned state is risky and will most likely lead to injury. We need to step away from the gyms and weight training articles and look at the big picture here.  The biggest reason to exercise in this country is no longer about looking sexy and thin.  The outcome we all need to focus on instead, is becoming healthy enough and conditioned well enough to start an exercise program.

Priming the muscles, the heart, and the lungs for more intense exercise is the first step most fitness professionals take with their clients.  When a person hires a trainer they expect to see immediate results which compromises the fitness professional’s ideal program because they know taking the time to get the body ready is not what their client is paying for.  Pass this over or risk losing your client.  Simple fitness tests and researched protocols are set forth by Certification Associations but often get ignored as soon as the professional passes the test.  When someone wants to get in shape, and they start off on their own without the guidance of a professional, this quick fix mentality takes charge.  It does with almost every aspect of our daily lives, so why would it be different in fitness?

It is not hard to see that the Beginner Program for the vast majority of our nation needs to be something much less than what is currently offered.  Promises of quick fixes need to be ignored and the use of equipment can wait.   The average Sedentary American should spend the first few months of exercising doing nothing more than going for simple walks and basic stretching.  Walking is the most useful tool (besides proper nutrition) our body can use to getting healthy and in shape as fast as correctly possible.  Stretching can wait for a few weeks after the walking distances and occurrences increase.  Sedentary individuals may not be ready to stretch because of highly tight muscles and may cause injury from performing a simple stretch.  The first step to becoming healthy and in shape is now developing yourself a walking program.  Start with one day a week for 20 minutes and continue to add a day each week.  Keep going with nothing but a walking program for at least your first 12 weeks and try to understand the basics of proper nutrition.  Do this and you will feel much better and healthier, and it’ll be as safe as possible.

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