Friday, August 15, 2008

Take a Closer Look

Study after study reveals that, were you to discover that your system of regular exercise did not lead to weight loss or the maintenance of your desired weight, you would be very unlikely to persist with it. Which is terrible really, because study after study shows that regular exercise promotes so many health benefits, it's literally insane.

It's also far from optimal, as new research (somewhat contested research, I should mention, but potentially accurate) indicates that diet is far more implicated in weight loss and maintenance than exercise ever will be. That exercise, muscle-building fabulousness notwithstanding, is inadequate to the task of regulating weight without the moderating influence of good (which is to say not high-calorie) diet and genes.

But exercise is a vital variable in the health equation, to be sure.

For what it's worth, I walk approximately 15000 steps a day (that takes a couple of hours), 5 or 6 days a week. I also aim to do 3 sessions of yoga, in my home studio, of approximately 1 hour in length each.

Here's why I do it:
  • Meditative movement keeps me sane - and I'm not being glib.
  • I enjoy being alone (an outcome which exercise sometimes affords) and being with others (another outcome which exercise sometimes affords).
  • I love to walk and think. My imagination keeps me company.
  • I need to get from one place to another and I get a secret thrill knowing it's my own body that gets me there.
  • I believe it sets a good example for my daughter.
  • I appreciate symmetry in all things - especially bodies. Yoga aligns my body in such a way that it looks, and feels, even and balanced.
  • I like being strong.
  • I really like being flexible.
  • I love inverting (headstands, handstands, shoulderstands etc.). There's nothing like flipping upside down to make an upside down world seem right side up. Exercise gives me perspective.
  • It feeds my exhibitionist nature. (What? I have a blog, don't I?)
  • It helps me look better in clothing. (See above)
  • It's likely lowering my blood pressure, improving my sex drive, staving off pre-diabetes, preventing cancer, increasing my lifespan and enabling me to eat that ice cream cone without feeling chubby.
Why do you?

(Oh, theme week over and out... Frivolity will return with the next post!)


  1. I exercise to work off the Cadbury Dairy Milk bar I eat every day.

  2. I began running in Grade 9 as an endurance test: we students were challenged to run a five-mile course to get to fifty miles. If I recall, I walked/ran those first few five miles in North Star sneakers (remember those?) and rewarded myself/treated my aching feet with/to a new pair of Brooks runners. Then I ran 8-10 mile courses daily for years because it made me feel strong and it refueled my brain. I also taught aerobics throughout my ugrad. career.

    I still run, though not as far or as often, due to the demands of my life. But I love it and still feel like I'm 15 when I'm in full stride.

  3. I don't exercise as I should...
    I'm like the bunny in Alice in Wonderland, always running to time.


  4. I like to exercise because it just makes me feel so much better and I never feel like I'm fat. It's just very relieving and fun!

    BTW, I changed my domain to, so if you have the time can you please update my link?

    P.S. Thanks for commenting on my blog!

  5. You've inspired me to maybe seek out a warm yoga class again this school term. I tried it a couple of winters ago but found that while I am very bendy, and enjoyed the balance and extension of the postures; I just couldnt cope with all the "mind clearing" time. Lying still under a sleeping bag (it was a cold hall) with my mind racing with things that I thought I should be doing; just didn't suit.
    Whereas walking as you say is great for thinking things through and using the movement to absorb the adrenaline.
    Maybe I will get my balance back this year by doing both at different times. My kids are happier now so some of the aspirations I used in the previous class must have worked (?)

    I love that you enjoy the symmetry you get from yoga; that really strikes a chord with an O.C.D ish autie like me. *big smile*

  6. I exercise so I can eat a donut but avoid looking like one.

    I exercise so I can make it past 62, the ages my parents died.

    I exercise because it feels good to see what my body can do.

    These are not ordered by priority.

    I love the bit about being upside down, K. Brilliant.

  7. Wendy: It's obviously working!

    Miss C: So intrigued to hear about your running. That's never been one of my fave activities (what with the boobs) but I can imagine how free it must feel.

    Seeker: I hear you on that. Sometimes time is the only thing against which we can exercise...

    FA: I'll change your link, thanks. Oh, and that's a great one - exercising for fun. Did I miss that one :-)

    Clothes Horse: I'd be thrilled to have a chance to teach you. Something tells me you would be an excellent yogini!

    Hammie: I think that yoga would be excellent for you. But I agree that a cold floor is suboptimal. It's always best to do yoga in a warm and dry environment. (Really.) May I suggest that you could benefit so much from the kind of yoga offered at a studio (rather than at a gym or church). It's not that great yoga isn't found in all places, but often the best yoga is at the studios and you, my dear, deserve only the best. Truly, when I don't have a lot to give, I find it easiest to focus in a studio class with the best props and "most yogic" environment. Having said all this, I know that you don't have a lot of time to yourself. I'm not trying to add more hoops to jump through, of course. Whatever can be managed in your crazy schedule is going to be helpful, undoubtedly.

    Enc: Unsurprisingly, I love all your reasons! Thank you for sharing. xo

  8. Thanks for all the advice and motivation - I need to catch up with all your wellness posts!

  9. If this routine is what results in that fantastic figure of yours, I'm all for it.

    But there are issues: I have never been able to stand on my head, not even when I was ten and it was a part of gym that was graded. Also, I have vertigo, so I'm basically screwed.

    I did used to walk, about five miles a day, and I did it for years. Then I moved to a canyon where to leave the complex would have been dangerous (dark, no sidewalks), so I went around in a mindless circle, robbed of the process of voyeurism (not in a sexual sense, but observational: Who has the better Christmas display, for instance, and which family always has a cheerful conversation at supper).

    And now I've moved to Florida. It's so muggy and buggy here that my body overheats and is bitten in half a block; I also live on a main road driven by maniacs (rape! It's just a shot away--they are still looking for this springs' perp) and thus I am envious of your walks.

    Funny, it's such a simple thing, and something one is deprived of by social transgression and climate.

    I'm REALLY envious. And I want your shoulderblades to boot.

  10. Please Sir: It's much more healthy to have relaxing weekends in Virginia than to read about health in blogs :-)

    Suzanna: Your compliments are so appreciated. (Maybe unwarranted, as I do post the photos with better angles, but I'll take 'em, thanks!) My parents, as I've mentioned, lived in FLA for years and I have to say that place is more or less the death of exercise. Unless you have access to a pool or the beach, it's almost impossible to exercise in that heat. And, it's not planned to encourage movement - at least none of the communities I've visited (and I've been rather "around" FLA). So I can really sympathize with what you're saying.

    On the topic of vertigo, the great thing about working with a certified teacher (esp. Iyengar, but that's my bias) is that (s)he can go over your own personal health history and help you to work in the context of a class so that you are safe. That means, you could do a revised version of a pose - thereby getting most of the benefit without risking injury - while others do the "regular" version. In Iyengar classes, this is very routine and one is not siloed by one's uniqueness. Everyone works together in his or her best way.

    Mind you, it would be challenging for you to take up "church" or gym yoga unless you knew the teacher's credentials and philosophy in advance. Going into a one-size fits all class might not be a good idea for you.

  11. You're so good. I will admit to being far more single-minded in my exercise motivations: I don't want to jiggle when I walk. Or, at least, not noticeably. If I could remain fit and healthy without ever doing a single physical activity, I probably would. I've often dreamed of just being a brain in a jar. ;)

  12. But then how would you wear your sassy new Philip Lim shorts, Sal??? :-)

  13. Yay, what a great series of posts! Have just read through them all. Thanks for the good advice and motivation :)

  14. Thanks Cat! So happy to know people might still be reading this. These posts were a labour of love...