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Health & Spirit

The 'Why' Behind Working Out

Charlyn Fargo on

I think we've been looking at physical activity all wrong. We often link it with losing weight, but to be honest, it takes a lot of moving to lose a pound or two. As I've learned, the value of physical activity is that it makes you feel better, makes you move better, gives you that sense of joy.

The bottom line? Including some sort of daily physical activity in your life keeps you healthy. That's really why we should be doing it. Knowing that may be more of a motivator than watching the scale.

Most of us have that backward. We work out to lose weight and then quit when we don't. But maybe the key is to turn our thinking around: We work out to be healthy, and every day we do, we're healthier.

A recent study found that increased activity in middle age and beyond may decrease the risk for death from all causes, cardiovascular disease and cancer, according to a study published recently in The BMJ.

Study authors found that middle-aged study participants benefited from increased physical activity regardless of past activity levels, history of cardiovascular disease or cancer or changes in established risk factors, such as overall diet quality, body weight, blood pressure and triglyceride and cholesterol levels. They recommend 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week, or about 30 minutes a day.

It's worth noting that this was a large study, giving it credibility. It included 14,599 women and men ages 40 to 79 years living in the United Kingdom.

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I think we can safely apply the results to those of us in the U.S. You can't go wrong increasing your physical activity, even if you haven't worked out much before. Take a walk, pump some iron, take a yoga class, go for a swim, or ride your bike. It all counts.

Most of us would agree we want to be healthier as we age. Here's the simple prescription: Move more.

So why do we let time, kids, work, activities crowd out that simple prescription? I think we need to remind ourselves of why we're doing it. We eat because we know we need food to live. We include fruits and vegetables, lean protein, whole grains and low-fat dairy because we know they help keep us healthy. Think about working out the same way. We need to move to stay healthy. Do whatever activity you like to do but do it because you know you're one step closer to your goal of being healthy -- and you might even live longer.

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