Donut obstacle course
Photo: Levi Brown
10 reasons to exercise (pick at least one).

1. You want to fight disease.
Exercise reduces your risk of a number of conditions, such as cancer, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes (the National Institutes of Health says healthy diet and exercise can reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes by 58 percent).

2. You want to lose weight and keep it off.
This is a given, but it bears repeating that people who maintain weight loss, as Terane Weatherly has, work out regularly. They don't just exercise until they take off the pounds, then go back to being a couch potato. If you want a thinner, healthier body, there is no way to avoid being active.

3. You want to look better.
Exercise doesn't just help you lose weight; it also firms the body, improves posture, and gives the skin a glow.

4. You're always annoyed and sapped of energy.
Research has found that just one session of exercise can put you in a better mood for three to four hours—at least. It's also a well-documented fact that exercise helps combat depression, sometimes as effectively as medications. Many psychologists use it as a standard part of treatment. People constantly tell me, "I just want to feel better." If you exercise regularly, you will.

5. You take too many sick days.
If you're looking for a way to reduce colds and upper respiratory infections, a good fitness program is key. Regular exercisers are significantly less likely to call in sick.

6. You have joint pain.
The right kind of exercise can reduce the pain of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis by strengthening the muscles around damaged joints.

7. You have a bad back.
Once upon a time, people with bad backs were urged to avoid physical activity. We now know that, in most cases, the best thing you can do is move. Recognize your limits, of course, and work with your doctor and perhaps a physical therapist.

8. You don't sleep well.
Even though exercise is energizing, it also wears you out. It's a paradox, I know, but eventually you'll feel more vibrant during the day and sleep better at night.

9. You want to slow the effects of aging.
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."

10. You love your kids.
When you care about yourself—and exercising is a sign that you do—you are doing your kids a favor by setting a good example. If you're active, there's a better chance that your kids will be active, too. Plus you're more likely to be around longer for them.

Next: Identify the excuse you've been using—and throw it out the window


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