Middle-aged, Out of Shape, Incredibly Lazy Woman Begins Exercise Program

'Runners set records in 25th Army Ten-Miler 091005' photo (c) 2009, U.S. Army - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/When I decided to start running in 2011 it seemed like a crazy idea.  If you read “I Am Not a Runner,” you will know what I mean.  But a personal commitment to exercise had recently become a nagging whisper in my daily life, sounding something like “you need to exercise . . . you need to get healthy  . . . you need to mooove before you CAN’T MOVE ANYMORE!”

Oh sure, I tried to be a serious “power walker” (I could do that!), but I still wasn’t really moooving in that out of breath way that indicated I was working hard.  Then I read an article written by Oprah’s fitness trainer, Bob Greene, outlining “10 Reasons to Exercise,” where he suggested finding just one reason out of the ten that he offered to motivate me enough to do it.

And so I did.   I exercise for my brain.

Many of you know my story by now of the three generations of women before me with dementia.  You know that my mother is in the advanced stages of the disease, and that I would do pretty much anything to avoid this fate myself.  So when I found out that exercise slows the aging process, reduces cognitive decline and helps preserve memory, my lazy days were over — I didn’t have a choice, I would be a lazy fool if I didn’t exercise.

The idea of exercising for my brain has been helpful.  It’s been motivating because it feels just a tad more important than exercising for my butt or my thighs.   According to Mr. Greene, some other important reasons to exercise are:

1.  Fight disease                              6.  Alleviate joint pain

2.  Lose weight                                7.  Ease back pain

3.  Look better                                 8.  Improve sleep

4.  Gain energy                                9.  Fight aging

5.  Less illness                                10.  Love your kids

Bob Greene goes on to say,

Exercise is one of the most effective ways to fight aging. Regular workouts drastically reduce the loss of muscle and bone, and improve circulation. Exercise may also help reduce inflammation and stave off age-related diseases. As if that’s not enough, physical activity seems to have a protective effect against dementia, and may help improve memory and other cognitive functions. One Harvard University researcher called exercise “Miracle-Gro for the brain.”

Miracle-Gro for the brain?  Yes please!

I like Bob Greene’s easy to understand article on the 10 Reasons To Exercise, but if you want something a little meatier that offers scientific research indicating the benefits of exercise on the brain, you can go to this New York Times article or this Time Health & Family article.

Finally, I want you to know that exercising is quite often difficult for this middle-aged, out of shape, incredibly lazy woman.  I’m on again, off again and I still struggle to get to that place where exercise is a natural part of my daily life.  (In fact, I’m procrastinating right now!)  But I am motivated and determined to do the right thing for my body and my brain, by answering the whispers, and moooving!

Besides, it only sucks half the time, and the other half it doesn’t.

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Comments

  1. Laura Van Landingham says:

    Thank you for sharing your struggle with exercise. I agree whole-heartedly, as I sit here after finishing a Jillian Michaels workout and truly want to pass out! Now I can think about my brain and know that there are more important things to gain from exercise. Be well, my friend!

    • Joanne Leonardis says:

      Yes — most usually a struggle, but not always. I think it’s a seasonal thing too. It’s much easier for me when it’s warmer and the sun is out. Not that’s not an excuse! Which Jillian dvd do you have? I have her “30-Day Shred” which kicks my ass. So good to hear from you!

  2. Susan Duff says:

    It is difficult to get into the habit, but once a habit, it’s hard to stop. What keeps me motivated are my dogs. Without regular exercise, they are quite crazy! They are my running buddies (walking buddies on my rest & interval days) and get me out there in all kinds of weather. Otherwise, they are so obnoxious that I can’t sit and relax!

    Keep it up – I saw a pin recently on pinterest that suggested putting a dollar in a jar each time you exercise. At the end of the month or two months, treat yourself to something fun! Sounds like a great idea only I never seem to have a dollar! 🙂

    • Joanne Leonardis says:

      As always, thank you for your encouragement Susan. Hmm . . . maybe I need to borrow your dogs? That’s great that you have them to help keep you motivated AND to keep you company on your runs. That’s a great dollar idea — since I never have a dollar either, maybe there are other ideas like dinner out after every 10 runs? I’ll admit, food motivates me.

  3. Jason says:

    Awesomeness! I like to say;
    Add years to your life, and life to your years!

    🙂

    • Joanne Leonardis says:

      I love that! Now that I know what I need to do . . . and eat . . . and NOT eat to stay healthy, I can’t undo the knowing and there’s no way I’ll ever go back to putting my head in the sand. Thanks for reading my crazy musings. To our health!

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