Do I Have To Exercise?
Updated: Apr 22, 2022
Exercise seems to be a very polarizing topic when I talk to clients. If you're wondering if you have to exercise to be healthy the answer is...it depends. In this article I'm going to give you all the reasons you should or shouldn't be exercising.
Reasons You Shouldn't Exercise
I'm starting with all the reasons why you shouldn't exercise because it's that important. There are totally valid reasons why you shouldn't be exercising. If you're exercising for the wrong reasons or when you shouldn't, you are not improving your health. Read through this list first and see if any of them apply to you.
To lose weight - You can't out exercise a bad diet. If you're relying on exercise to get you to your goal weight you need to reevaluate. Also, you shouldn't use it as a form of punishment to work off something you "shouldn't have ate or drank".
You're sick - Your body is doing a lot of hard work when you're sick. Trying to push through to get in a workout is not smart. You're adding unnecessary stress to your body and prolonging your sickness. Not to mention spreading your germs.
You have nothing in the tank - Pushing through when you have no energy equals injury. If your body is telling you to take a break...TAKE A BREAK.
You have an injury - If you have an injury don't push through a workout. Similar to when you're sick, your body is already working overtime. You won't be able to heal if you continue to use the injured body part or add unnecessary stress to your body.
Your stress level is off the charts - Different times in your life you've probably dealt with extreme levels of stress. It could be meeting a deadline, a death in the family, a looming divorce/separation, or potentially losing your job. High-intensity workouts during extreme stress is dangerous.
Trying to stick to your workout regimen in any of these scenarios is bad news. It's also a poor time to implement a new routine.
Reasons You Should Be Exercising
The reasons you should exercise are vast. I can't even begin to list them all here. Here are some of the top reasons you should be exercising.
Always consult your trusted medical practitioner before
implementing a new exercise routine.
To strengthen bone and muscle - Doing weight-bearing exercise is critical as we age. We begin to lose bone as we get older and we need strong muscles to help with balance and coordination.
Increase insulin sensitivity - Regardless if you're pre-diabetic, have Type II diabetes, or are just trying to be healthy and preventing disease, you need to keep your blood sugar balanced. Being insulin sensitive means that your body is efficiently managing your blood sugar levels and gets you one step closer to prevention or reversal.
Improve sleep quality - Getting movement in your day will help you get more sleep or better quality sleep. Your body will need the extra rest to recover and you will drift into sleep more easily.
Increase blood flow to the brain - This means more mental clarity and improved focus. It can also improve your mood.
Increase testosterone - Testosterone helps build muscle. We need those strong muscles to prevent injury as we age. Also, lean muscle burns more body fat even when you're at rest.
Cardiovascular health - Your muscles become more efficient at drawing oxygen from the blood with regular exercise. This is also a way to boost your energy levels. Another benefit, is it helps lower blood pressure which is important for the cardiovascular system.
Stress management - The right kind of exercise can help with day-to-day stress. However, if your stress level is high it's important that you're doing exercises that help relax you such as, walking, yoga, gardening, or swimming.
Wondering how to lose weight if exercise isn't the answer?
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What If I Don't Like To Exercise
Here are some tips to help you out if you currently avoid exercise like the plague, but should be working out.
First, determine if you're a lone ranger or a social butterfly. If you're a social butterfly consider joining a class, a team sport, or run with a group at a local running store (you don't have to be fast or run the entire time to join...trust me).
If you prefer to go it alone, then find a place outdoors or indoors to do your workout. You can find a local trail or park or set up a small home gym. You only need a few basics like a mat, jump rope, resistance bands, free weights or kettlebells (if you're even ready to add weights) and maybe a device to watch a free workout on YouTube.
Second, don't feel like you need to carve out 30-60 minutes a day to exercise. If you're a busy person, and who isn't these days, then you can find ways to get in body weight exercises anywhere for 5-10 minutes at a time. Take the stairs, park farther away, stand up and do 10 air squats once an hour. Maybe you can spend 10 minutes twice a day going for a short walk.
My point is, just do something. You may just start with 5 minutes a day if you're not exercising at all now. That's perfectly fine.
Third, do something you actually enjoy. If you don't like going to they gym, don't. If you despise running, don't. There are so many different type of exercises you can do. Find something you love doing that doesn't feel like torture. I love my morning walks and even get them in before a cup of coffee...that's saying a lot!
Lastly, choose the right time of day. If your mornings are hectic, don't add another thing to your list. You may need to get creative and break it up over the course of the day like I mentioned. I used to go to a gym close to work so I could get in my workout instead of sit in traffic and often I'd be home at nearly the same time in the evening. Finding a time that works for you, is key.
There are likely seasons of life that you should skip the exercise, but by and large you should most definitely be exercising to improve your health. Exercise should not be something you dread doing. If it is, you're doing it wrong. If you already exercise on the regular, but feel the dread, then it's time to change it up.
Stay tuned. I'm going to write a follow up all about the different types of exercise and what frequency is optimal. In the meantime, get some movement in your day.
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