Why don’t you exercise? Is 2017 the year you make the change?

why do we exercise

Exercise IS the closest thing we have to a miracle drug.

High blood pressure? Exercise. Bad cholesterol? Exercise. Blood sugar creeping up? Exercise. Worried about your risk of cancer? Exercise. Bad knees? Exercise. Did the doctor diagnosis you with osteoporosis? Exercise. Anxious or depressed? Exercise. Concerned about Alzheimer’s? Exercise. No energy? Exercise. Is your waist line expanding? Exercise.

You can literally type almost any medical condition into Pubmed (a database for clinical trials and research), add “and exercise,” and you’ll find a study either showing a reduced risk of developing that condition or an improvement in symptoms if you already have that condition. Try it. Even something as unlikely as irritable bowel syndrome can be improved with exercise. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25593485)

But yet, we see these startling statistics:
80% of the U.S. population fail to get the minimum recommended amount of exercise.
2 out of 3 people in the U.S. are classified as overweight. 1 out of 3 are classified as obese.

And it doesn’t stop there. There’s also the cost of being sick.

– The average cost to a traditional health insurers for the first 90 days following a heart attack is $38,501. For comparison, the median household income for a family in Gillespie is $39,623 for a year. Crazy, right?
-If I had diabetes, according to my 2017 health insurance plan purchased on healthcare.gov, I’d spend $1500 on diabetic-related medical expenditures over the course of the year. Over the next ten years, I’d spend $15,000 of my own money treating just ONE of my medical conditions, and that’s assuming my healthcare costs wouldn’t go up each year (which we know is about as likely as me winning the Powerball jackpot tonight).

But why? Why don’t we take advantage of exercise when the benefits are clear and the costs are high? Are these statistics not scary (or costly) enough? Are we not rational, intelligent human beings?

Behavioral economists will tell you human beings almost completely disregard long-term benefits for immediate short-term gains. If you offer someone $10 today or $20 in 5 days, he’ll more than likely take the $10 today. Unfortunately, exercise is a long-term investment.

Psychologists and neurologists will try to convince you that our brains are wired to treat our current self and future self as two separate entities. Our current self often takes priority, which again focuses on short-term gains. Exercise is almost always pushed on our future self, which we believe has more time, energy, and willpower than our current self. “I’ll start my diet on Monday.” or “I’m going to start exercising January 1st. I’ll have more time then.”

And then there are the fitness @ssholes who simply just refer to the 80% of Americans that don’t get the minimum recommend amount of exercise as lazy, unmotivated, healthcare-sucking junkies. They say we’re turning into zombies. We don’t have to get off the couch to change the channel. We’re adding motors to bicycles to make them easier to pedal. Everywhere you look layers and layers of automation and convenience are being added daily. Unfortunately, exercise doesn’t fit into this era. It’s hard. We expend energy doing it, which is in the direct opposition of our current lifestyle that tries to use as little energy as possible.

Who do you think is right?

Personally, I think they’re all wrong. I think the answer to that question IS the question.


Because of the WHY.
For example, investing for your retirement is a lot like exercise. They both are long-term plays that offer little short-term gains. They both have an abundance of research supporting their benefits. Heck, even Albert Einstein called compound interest the eighth wonder of the world. Yet, just like exercise, the majority of Americans aren’t saving enough for retirement.

I was just as guilty as anyone. For years I only invested the minimum in my 401k. I could have easily added more but, I didn’t. In an even more bizarre twist, I bought and read books on investing, e-mailed friends and professors with far more investing knowledge than I had, and went as far as opening investment accounts to fully automate my savings so I didn’t even have to think about it. Yet again, I didn’t. I wasted my time, my friends’ time, and my money without saving a dollar more. Why?

Because of my why.

At that point in time, it was just Amber and I. I enjoyed working (and still do), and couldn’t imagine a day when I’d retire and do nothing. Even the promise of millions of dollars in my bank account (thanks to compound interest) wasn’t enough. Being able to afford a beach house in Florida when Amber and I are 65 is nice, but it’s not enough. It lacks inspiration. It doesn’t grab me, shake me, and push me to make the change today.

Today I save as much as I possibly can. Why?

Because of my why.

When the doctor tells you your daughter had a stroke, and there’s no way to tell the extent of the damage until she’s born and even then symptoms may not develop for years later, your why becomes powerful. Retirement becomes more than a beach house or a bank account. What if Taber isn’t able to get an education? What if she’s never able to care for herself? How can I make sure she’s safe, protected, and will get the best care possible? How can I give her the life every father wants for his child?

And that’s all it took. A change in my why.

I never had an issue exercising because my why was clear from an early age. Some of the best memories of my childhood were not the Disney trips, the Christmas presents, or my first car. No. They all involved playing with my dad. When we were little my brother and I would play football against my dad in our living room. My dad would be on his knees in a goal line stance, and play after play after play we’d attempt to launch ourselves over the defense and land in the end zone, which happened to be our couch. As we got bigger, much to my mother’s encouragement, we moved our football games outside, and again my brother and I would team up against my dad for some epic backyard battles. And as we hit high school and college, he was still playing pick-up basketball, baseball, and football games with us. Year after year, the memories kept accruing.

Those are the very same memories I want to give my kids. Those small amounts of joy that may not seem like much at the time, but end up lasting a lifetime. And those were all created because he was healthy and fit.

At the time those memories were being created, the why probably wouldn’t have sunk in if it hadn’t been for my friends. See, I had friends who would come over just to play with my dad. Their dads were either too overweight, too tired, too busy, or too sick to play. They were being deprived of those memories.

It was so obvious that happiness is a product of exercise even a 12 year-old kid could see it. I don’t want to spend my adulthood in hospitals, doctor’s offices, or pharmacies. I also don’t want to be stuck in a La-Z-Boy chair flipping through the channels while my kids are outside playing. I want to be a kid with my kids. That’s a why that shakes you at your core.

I’m reminded of it weekly in the gym. I see members like Pat Obertino who is in such great shape she’ll probably be able to babysit her great, great grand kids. Just imagine all of the memories she’ll have. Then there’s Mike Rossetto who I know is in better shape than 75% of the guys in my high school graduating class. By the way, his daughter was also in my graduating class. There’s also Kevin Fairman that seems to keep getting stronger with age, despite working full-time, raising a handful of kids, and keeping up with his lovely wife’s honey-do’s. And I can’t forget the lady that inspired me to write this article. Seeing Linda Vidmar, who is almost 70, perform a headstand (yes, HEADstand, not handstand) as well as an entire arsenal of yoga poses that I couldn’t do, is not only humbling but inspiring because she gives us a glimpse of the quality of life that can be created with exercise. She makes it clear that age is just a number.

My point?

The why is important. It drives behaviors.  The why will grab you, shake you, and push yo to do it now.

Big biceps, six pack abs,and a big bench press are all good starting points. They’ll jumpstart your fitness journey. However, rarely will they sustain it. They just aren’t deep enough. Dig deeper.

I’ve seen people with toxic addictions turn to fitness. They said exercise saved their lives. I’ve seen women who have been in horrible relationships that have destroyed their confidence turn to fitness. As they got physically stronger, they got mentally stronger and then emotionally stronger. I’ve seen overweight, terribly sick people turn to fitness because their quality of life had all but evaporated. They lost weight, got off some of their medications, and felt alive for the first time in years. We all have things we are either running from or running to. Those are the why’s that move us. As Tony Robbins often says, keep finding as many “why’s” as possible to do something, and eventually you’ll have a big enough reason to make the change.
And if you have an excuse (or excuses), don’t worry. You’re not lazy. It doesn’t mean you’re weak. You’re not a bad person either. You just haven’t found your why yet. Keep digging.


Are you ready to start your fitness journey? Call us today at 217-839-2484 (Gillespie) or 618-635-2243 (Staunton), and we’ll help you get started. You can also join online. Just click “Purchase a Membership” on our navigation bar on the top of our website. Questions? E-mail us at BeTheChange@ageless-fitness.com