Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Exercise and Fitness - The Many Benefits

While at the gym this morning, I realized that I have been committed to my work out routine for well over a year. I joined the fitness center in November of 2006. Since then, I have attempted to go to the gym 4 days a week. I work out for an hour to 1.5 hours. I do one hour of cardio and I do 15-30 minutes of weights. I generally like the elliptical (it is easy on the knees), but I've recently discovered cycle class. I love the class and I think being in a class pushes me to work out harder. It also adds variety to my work out routine. It is especially fun to meet people in class and watch as they meet their fitness goals.

Despite my work out routine, I've lost no weight. I realize muscle weighs more than fat, but I've lost very few inches. However, I am much stronger, and I am in really good cardiovascular shape. I was just reflecting today on how amazing the human body is.

Although I haven't lost the weight that I would like, I have had some tangible medical improvements. I was on bed rest for 12 weeks in the hospital with my first child. When I came out of the hospital, I had gained a lot of weight (probably around 60 or so pounds, and I had lost muscle). I could barely walk. If I was sitting on the floor I could not get up out of the floor without fear that my legs would collapse under me. When I walked, I broke out in a sweat and after walking my legs would tingle and feel as if someone was sticking pins into my muscles. I visited my primary care doctor, and he checked my cholesterol. The numbers were so bad that he discussed putting me on cholesterol medicine. I refused and went on a strict diet. I did the South Beach diet for over a year and lost a lot of weight (I was smaller than I am now). However, I was not exercising, and I could not maintain the food restrictions forever.

Then I discovered exercise. I started working out to lose weight, but I soon began to marvel at the strength of my body. I became proud of what my body could do, and although I still do not "like" everything about my body, I have developed respect for my body.

Last week I had my cholesterol checked. My blood pressure was 97/60. My cholesterol was:

Total Cholesterol: 162
HDL: 57
LDL: 77
Total Cholesterol/HDL Ratio: 2.8

Needless to say, I was THRILLED. For those folks that say that exercise does not make a difference - I beg to differ. Exercise has made a huge difference for me physically.

Exercise also benefits me mentally. I am much more focused at work, and I sleep better when I work out. I've also learned that I am very high energy. Exercise helps me use up some of that energy. When I exercise, I am calmer and more patient with the kids.

I think it is ironic that our society can be so condescending when it comes to exercise. We call people "health nuts", "fitness nuts" and other names for being concerned about their health and well being.

My hope is that I will look back to read this post to remind myself why I exercise when I feel like slacking off.


bridgmanpottery said...

yay you! G has a problem with his good cholesterol being too low. Even a minimum amount of exercise helps this.

I try to walk nash to or from school on tolerable days to sneak it in.

The body is an amazing thing. I think the more we appreciate its capabilities the more at peace we will be with its appearance.

Malsy (THE Moe of DMOE) said...

the mental and spiritual benefits of excercising can't be quanitified either! but your blood "scores" ROCK! GOod job Bethie- you want to start some competetive races now???