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EDITORIAL:The Joy Of Exercise?

Oh the misery! The time consuming drudgery!

Must we exercise to stay in shape and maintain a good looking and healthy body?

What is it about working out that always seems so very painful, so very tedious and very uninviting?

The question would be more appropriate if it simply asked you to make a long list of reasons.

Countless studies have been done on this subject, from how to get the best results, to how long and how frequently a person should engage in physical activities.

Somehow, no matter the results of the research, or how minimal the requirements they suggest, most people find it to be very dreary to have to work out.

Then again, if we simply look at it as a hobby (a hobby that keeps us younger, healthier, brighter and more vital than our peers) rather than a chore, perhaps we can find something (long life, any one?) that makes exercise both stimulating and enjoyable.

Is it possible to find joy in this seeming torture of physical exertion?

With more and more people taking desk jobs, commuting and driving from place to place, and replacing any form of aerobic activity with developing finger dexterity at the keyboard, it has put pressure on other aspects of our lives to find time and effort for burning calories.

It seems that as a society we have become too busy during our workdays; typing, calling, driving, and meeting, so we end up forcing exercise into time slots. Some find time before work, others make time after, yet key descriptive words here would be "find," "make," and "force." How do we make these sessions enjoyable? One thing that many people claim, is that it is always difficult to get started, but once they are doing it, it's not so bad.

So a part of the battle must be simply finding the motivation to begin. Is it that vaunted pair of designer jeans that will motivate you, or is it the heart health you aim to maintain or achieve? And is the end result truly the means by which you will be inspired to workout?

Major goals are incredibly important, yet there must be something involved on a shorter term to keep spirits high during each exercise session. Whether it is the cool new yoga outfit or the fancy road bike you recently purchased, sometimes these things might be enough.

Without a doubt, the best way to exercise is to incorporate it into the daily routine. Walking or biking to work, taking a lunch time stroll, or even parking farther away or walking down the hall to a coworker rather than calling them can be small steps in the right direction.

Since many people do not have jobs that require the traditional, physical exertion, integrating exercise into a daily routine can be very difficult in some cases. It's not likely that most desk jobs are conducive to working while walking on the treadmill or cycling on a stationary bike. From a psychological standpoint, a key element in the concept of integrating it into our routine is that a person can work out and burn calories without really knowing they are doing so.

Exercise stimulates the lungs, heart, muscles and body as a whole. It invigorates the mind, sharpens and refreshes the senses, and is integral to our health. There are many suggestions on how to make it part of our lives, there are guides to what to do, how many reps and for what duration.

Beyond the charts, diagrams and explanations, it is most important to find a physical activity that is enjoyable. Something to look forward to, maybe even replaces an entertainment outlet such as TV, and fits well into daily living. It could be the sport you loved back in high school, it could be yoga or martial arts that you have always been interested in trying; maintaining a healthy body helps build a healthy mind and spirit.

Perhaps if we look at it like brushing our teeth. The brushing isn't particularly pleasurable but the results feel good and, most importantly, are good for our dental health, which, in turn, is good for our overall health. Sort of like, well, exercise.

Then again, if we simply look at it as a hobby (a hobby that keeps us younger, healthier, brighter and more vital than our peers) rather than a chore, perhaps we can find something (long life, any one?) that makes exercise both stimulating and enjoyable.

If we don't care about our teeth; if we don't care about looking good, to ourselves and others; if we don't care about having a pain free middle and older age; if we don't care about dying young, then we can fore go any efforts to keep ourselves toned and vibrant.

But, look around you and see the folks older than you and if they look slothful, chubby, pot bellied, stooped, tired, winded yet happy and pain free, then put exercise off for another decade. If they look otherwise than happy and pain free then it's not too late to enjoy the great fun of living a long, healthy life through exercise, physical activities and keeping fit.

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