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I have this friend in Norway who visited me some weeks ago. She goes to a gym several days a week at home, and this is something she has done for many years. She is dependent on it for feeling good.

At the age of 53 she also has a body of an 18 year old. I guess this is part of why she is doing it, but her main reason is health. She knows a lot about the benefits exercising regularly have for us. Luckily we have a gym here in La Herradura also.

Just before she was off to the gym, she asked if I wanted to come along, and here I am, going to a gym as often as I can find time, which is not more than twice a week, but after all, more than never.

And what is more important, I think more about how I can exercise. So if I don’t have time to go to the gym, I, for example, make a point of running up the stairs instead of walking or taking an elevator. Why this sudden change in my need to be nice to myself?

I have always been active, and when I was young I was quite athletic. But I am lazy, and would like to be healthy and fit and slim without doing too much. Those days are over, and I suddenly realized that now it is up to me.

I have read reports on the vital role exercise plays in preventing many deceases. Results suggest that regular exercise can prevent some cancers. In particular, colon cancer may be reduced by as much as 50 %.

Breast cancer can be reduced by 20 – 30 % and here they say that the benefits have been stronger for postmenopausal women. Reports also show more immediate effects, such as strengthening of the immune system, improving sleep and cognition, helping control stress, anxiety and depression. It also improves psychological well-being, self esteem, body image and mood.

Some years ago we were recommended 20 minutes of vigorous activity three times a week, and that really meant sweating! Now guidelines recommend 30 minutes moderate exercise most days of the week. Moderate means raised heart rate and shortness of breath.

I sometimes find it quite discouraging going to the gym. I then remind myself that I have only just started and I must be patient with myself. Muscles are so easy to loose, and very time consuming to build up. I tell myself that there will always be someone more fit than me, but on the other hand, always someone less fit than me. All I can do is keep working. I must also remember that muscles weigh more than fat, so I will not lose weight.

On the running machine I will be able to see that I can run for a little longer each week, and when I walk back home, up the hill, I will be able to do it faster without losing my breath completely. The greatest reduction in disease risk is seen when people go from being inactive to starting exercising.

We do not have to go to a gym to achieve raised heart rate and shortness of breath. The main thing is to change our attitudes and make exercising as important as family and friends.

What can we do when we do not want to or have the time to go to the gym? Our area offers many possibilities. Keep fit classes are much cheaper here than in other places. We have the ocean to swim in, hotels have pools. We have mountains to walk, or if you don’t want to walk the mountains, you can go for a walk and look at houses, or walk the beach. The nice weather makes golf and tennis easy available all year. Gardening can be good exercise. Remember that yoga is also very good exercise for the body.

I hope you will find that doing exercises regularly will make you feel better in addition to improving fitness. Maybe you can even have some fun. Keep remembering that exercising daily makes a huge difference to your health, both short and long term.

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