My grandma lived to over 100 and this past year died due to complications of COVID. She was physically active every day for most of her life and during the last few years continued to be active tooling around a nursing home keeping the nurses “on their toes” in her wheelchair, apparently at all hours and in areas of the home she was not supposed to be. She will be missed by many and was active until the end.
Physical exercise plays an extremely important role in your health by adding years to life and life to years. We have known about the risk of inactivity for a long time, and in developed nations the risk of early death is even greater due to inactivity (along with poor diet) as a primary driver of “lifestyle diseases”. In 2010, the WHO reported on the public health significance of inactivity: “Physical inactivity has been identified as the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality (6% of deaths globally). This follows high blood pressure (13%), tobacco use (9%) and high blood glucose (6%). Overweight and obesity are responsible for 5% of global mortality. Further, “It has been shown that participation in regular physical activity reduces the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke, diabetes, hypertension, colon cancer, breast cancer and depression. Additionally, physical activity is a key determinant of energy expenditure, and thus is fundamental to energy balance and weight control.” Today, chronic lifestyle diseases continue to kill more people than anything else. Your health is non-negotiable, and exercise plays an extremely important role.
During the early months of the pandemic in 2020, the gym was forced to close for two months then was allowed to re-open. While we held zoom workout sessions and allowed members to borrow our equipment, it wasn’t the same. Once we opened back up, almost all of our members came back in some capacity and were thankful we opened-up again.
I heard from many of our members that the positive mental vibes and community the gym provided were a big reason they missed not coming in. The positive endorphins that physical activity generates are something that can be incredibly uplifting mentally and give you more energy throughout the day. The other mental aspect that a gym provides is the social aspect, which many have missed in the past year. The more I read and hear first-hand accounts from others, the more I understand just how important this is.
There are many people that are perfectly happy to exercise outdoors, in their basements, or in their garages without having to go into a gym. But many people want the camaraderie and coaching support that a gym environment provides. And particularly in the Midwest during the winter months, it can be very difficult to exercise outside or on your own! Going to a gym and having a trained professional provide you with workouts that work on progressing your fitness over time may give you better results and keep you coming back for more. Working out with others will make it even more enjoyable!
So don’t let the bad weather, your age, or anything else get in your way of getting active. Bundle up and get outside for a walk or run. Or get into the gym. You owe it to yourself to be healthy. No excuses.