This summer brought out the athletic spirit of Americans with the excitement of the 2012 Olympic Games in London. We had the chance to be part of the dream that these athletes embody with their heroic accomplishments. We love seeing athletes like Michael Phelps for swimming and Serena and Venus Williams for tennis receive Gold medals for their incredible performances. However, we, ourselves, don’t have to be Olympians to receive the many benefits that fitness and exercise bring to our lives. The spirit of accomplishment and reward can be brought to our personal lives by bringing forward even small goals.

Let’s explore some reasons why adding a fitness plan to our lives can make us individual gold medalists for ourselves and our family.

  • Lowering Heart Disease: First, our heart is a muscle and muscles increase their effectiveness when they are strengthened. Physical fitness activities that are cardiovascular in nature increase the heart’s strength. An increase in our heart’s strength and effectiveness has been shown to markedly reduce heart disease and heart attacks. In the Wizard of Oz there is a quote by Tin Man who only wants a heart, “a heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved, by others.” Our friends and family love us and as owners of a heart, we can learn fun and challenging activities that assist our heart’s wellness. 
  •  Reducing Type II Diabetes: Another benefit of implementing an exercise program into our lives is that regular exercise such as walking briskly can reduce the risk of Type II Diabetes. Dr. Frank Hu from the Harvard Public Health administration determined that taking one hour to walk briskly could reduce the onset of Type II Diabetes by 34%. 
  •  Reduction of Osteoporosis: Studies have shown over the past decade how weight-bearing exercises such as walking, running, dancing, jump rope help our bodies rebuild calcium in our bones that often get depleted with age. Whether you like to run or get your cardio fitness from fun activities like Zumba, Two-step, Line dancing or Jumping rope with your kids, your bones will thank you by reducing your risk of hip and humerus fractures caused by accidental falls. 

When creating an exercise program to add to your lifestyle, make sure to consult your physician to get a full exam before engaging in strenuous activities that your body may not be used to. Whether you are the Gold Medalist of your own life, your family and friends’ lives or the country, your health matters and exercise is a great way to feel better and take care of yourself.