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Exercise is Like Brushing Your Teeth

Posted Apr 04 2012 7:50pm

Brush 'em!

What if we only brushed our teeth three times a week? Say good-bye to those pretty pearly whites and say hello to gross plaque buildup and nasty breath! Your boyfriend certainly wouldn’t be impressed and even your dog would be afraid to give you a smooch. Expect your dentist bills to skyrocket and your hygienist to cringe at the sight of your name on the schedule.

Luckily for your social life, we’ve been programmed from an early age to properly take care of our mouths. I still get the chills at the thought of swishing around that root beer flavored fluoride in my mouth in elementary school. Since we sprouted our first teeth, we’ve been taught by our mothers, fathers, dentists and school teachers how to correctly brush and floss. Those painful reminders everyday after dinner and before we headed out to the end of the driveway to catch the bus, “did you remember to brush your teeth!?” “yesssss moooommmm”

In the end it’s worked pretty well, hasn’t it? How many times have you woken up in the morning and decided you were too tried or too busy to brush your teeth? Since it’s part of your everyday routine, it’s not a very big deal. It doesn’t require much motivation or coercing, and in the scheme of things you end up with much less decay and tartar than if you had avoided it.

As a wellness student, I am genuinely interested in encouraging people to live more active, fulfilling lives. One of the best ways to do that is to make exercise a priority, much like brushing your teeth. It’s a hard concept to understand. Throughout most of our lives we’ve understood exercise to be a form of punishment. How many laps did you have to run for missing that game-winning touchdown? How many times were you humiliated in gym class when you couldn’t complete a single push-up or climb to the top of that rope?

It’s not too late! Fitness can still become a positive part of your life. Erase the memories of gym class mockery and make exercise a pleasant part of your everyday life! Don’t wait until your doctor diagnoses you with diabetes or prescribes you an exercise plan to lower your BMI. Start now, not tomorrow or the next day. You don’t let plaque build up in your teeth, so stop it now before it begins accumulating in your arteries.

The following are some ways you can start making fitness part of your daily routine:

  • Exercise 30 minutes a day or more- you’ll only miss 1 TV show!
  • Alternate strength training, cardio and flexibility, here’s my own personal routine:

Monday/Wednesday/Friday: 30 minutes of cardio, 20 minutes strength training, 10 minutes of stretching

Tuesday/Thursday: 40 minutes of cardio, 20 minutes of deep stretching

Saturday/Sunday: Try something new- outside if it’s nice (running, biking, hiking, walking the dog) or inside if it’s nasty (a new class or a new workout video)

  • Listen to your body. If you’re thirsty, drink. If you’re hungry, eat. If you’re tired sleep, and if you’re sweating, wipe it off and keep going.
  • Along the same lines of listening to your body, listen to your breathing. If you can talk to the girl on the elliptical next to you then kick up the intensity!
  • If you think you might be injured, seek medical attention. When you’re healed and ready to get back to your routine check with a fitness professional at your gym or local fitness club to make sure you’re using correct technique and form.
  • Mix it up. If you can quote Billy Blank’s Tae Bo video, it’s time for a change. Once your body becomes used to the same old exercises you’ll stop benefiting from them. Your body and your mind will appreciate a change every now and then.
  • Use your time wisely. So you’ve got a pair of twins, a full-time job, a cat who just gave birth and you’re husband is a movie star? Don’t play the victim! Call a neighbor to watch the twins (don’t tell her about the kittens), set your alarm 30 minutes earlier than usual and pop in a work out video before Angelina steals your husband too! You’ll have more energy to carry you through the day and everyone around you will benefit from your good mood!
  • Find support. Plaster the fridge with encouraging words, recruit a buddy to go on walks with you, buy a new pair of running shorts, load up your iPod with your favorite beats, and do whatever else it might take for you to succeed.
  • Ignore the scale, or any other means of results for that matter. Trash that tape measure, and stop squeezing your “problem areas” in the mirror (c’mon, we all have done it!). Focus on how you feel. Make wellness your goal, not a number on the scale.
  • Brag about it. Did you run a mile for the first time since high school? Can you finally complete a workout without feeling like you’re going to die? Let the world know! Tell your mom, tell your facebook friends, tell the barista who knows your coffee order by heart! Tell ‘em all! If other people know you’re making progress, you could inspire them to do the same!
  • Stop the “fat” talk. If I hear another person say “I’m so fat” I’m going to scream! Statements like this don’t help anyone. Cut it out.

Our bodies were made to move. We’ve been doing it for thousands of years. If you’re lucky enough to have two legs to walk on, a safe neighborhood to run in, and a group of people to support you in doing so, then do it! Take care of yourself in every way so that you can continue to do so.

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