Exercise Variety and Identity

Great exercise has a lot to do with a "balanced diet" of exercise, rather than a pick and choose model where we only participate exclusively in yoga, or weight lifting, and etc.


I liken the picky exercise model to brushing our teeth, but refusing to floss...or eating exclusively red meats and excluding other meats, vegetables, and carbohydrates. Brushing and flossing achieve different and complementary effects. Different vegetables, proteins, and carbohydrates have different and complementary impacts on our bodies.


Likewise, different types of cardiovascular training, strength training, mobility, balance, and flexbility training provide different but complementary outcomes.


For some reason, different ages and different genders tend to associate themselves with different types of exercises...even though this is holding all us of back from having a balanced exercise regime.


Women need strength training just as men do. Women stand to lose a lot more bone density than men, women tend to already be genetically predisposed to having less muscle mass, and women tend to have a lot of difficulty controlling their metabolism so that they can lose excess fat deposits. Especially during and after menopause or pregnancy, women need to build up their strength and muscles to the point where their metabolism doesn't cause them to put on unhealthy levels of fat. Strength training and building muscle helps women control their fat mass to a healthy level, and manage bone density loss.


On the other hand, men tend to skip on leg day at the gym, whereas the female-friendly barre classes usually involve hundreds of squats and squat variations and squat holds within the hour long classes...but they tend to lack upper body strength exercises.


Moreover, every time I attend a yoga class I find that there is a 5:1 or higher ratio of women to men, even though men have a lot to gain in terms of flexbility, balance, and core strengthening.


For adults in their forties and beyond, and especially for those who are retired and in their sixties or higher, I argue that all kinds of exercise is much more critical for them than they are for younger adults. Without exercise, older adults are at a higher risk to experience a faster rate of decay in their muscles, bones, joints, connective tissues, and can very quickly degrade their range of motion, flexibility, and balance. I argue that the older we are, the more we have to identify with exercise because it provides us with protection when it matters most in our lives in terms of health benefits.


In conclusion, one of the biggest struggles for all people in taking-on a holistic exercise regime has to do with gender and age stereotypes, as well as our inability to identify with certain types of activities. When we don't identify ourselves with a certain exercise style, we feel unmotivated to exercise in that style. When we consider ourselves as people who don't belong to the world of weight lifting or yoga, we rob ourselves of the opportunity and enthusiasm to give them a try, and to reap the separate and distinct rewards of each type of exercise.

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