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11

7 Benefits of Exercise

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Dear Fun & Fit:
People tell me all the time that exercise is good for me for many reasons, but I can only think of one — weight loss. What are the other reasons?
Hates to exercise
Hygiene, Colorado

Is that skunk\’s name Jean?

Great question. And I’d ask about your city, but I lived near there and know it exists! But it is a “unique” name for a town. And I sure am tempted to say, “Hi Jean!”

There actually are quite a few great reasons to exercise, yet we’ll just give you the 7 that Mayo Clinic touts, starting with the one you already know:
1. Helps manage weight – Forget all that crazy talk pre-printed on the machines about fat-burning zones: a calorie is a calorie is a calorie. In a simple sentence that includes a verb, engaging in exercise causes you to burn calories. If you burn them, you aren’t storing them!

2. Improves mood – decreases stress, helps stave off depression, increases self-esteem and happiness, and is relaxing; all to do with brain chemicals.

Chocolate improves mood

3. Combats chronic diseases – We in the fitness industry have been shouting about this for years. But is anyone listening? Noooooo. Too bad, I’m going to shout it again: most chronic diseases can be prevented or managed with exercise – hypertension, coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, colon cancer, abnormal cholesterol levels, stroke, arthritis. While we’re at it, you should also quit smoking!

4. Boosts energy level – When people say “I’m doing my cardio,” they are secretly talking about Biology 101. The cardiovascular system is more efficient when it’s all “exercised up.” Go Heart! Go Blood Vessels! While we’re here: Go Lungs!

5. Promotes better sleep – As long as I don’t exercise right before bedtime, I can improve..zzzzzzzzz. snort

6. Has positive effect on sex life – Women: Hello arousal! Men: Goodbye erectile dysfunction. Nuff said. Shut up and dance.

Shut Up and Dance

7. Can be fun – Okay, most of the people who live on this planet might wonder about the fun part, but obviously the researchers at the Mayo Clinic are whooping it up!

In the end, all you need is the one benefit that will get you motivated to exercise. Any list, no matter how long or short, will be irrelevant unless it resonates with you. And no, “resonate” is not a type of furniture polish!

Dear Readers: If you had to choose one of the benefits from the list above, which one would be the one that gets you motivated to move?

17

Be Your Body’s Best Friend

Alexandra Williams, MA

Dear Readers: It’s halfway through January and some of you are frustrated by the gap between your resolutions and solutions. The other half of you don’t do resolutions and are frustrated more by the fact that it’s a long time until spring break! And the other half of you (this math is taken straight from the calculus textbooks) have given up and are just pissed. Three of you are working out while reading this!

Best Friends Know What’s What

Here’s the deal – it doesn’t matter in the end how much Kymberly and I know–which is a freakin’ lot –about fitness and health and living a quality life, if our information doesn’t make an impact. What really matters is YOU: your choices, your decisions, your actions! Okay, to us, we matter too! But our information can only help you if you help you! Let me tell you a story:I have a dad. Kymberly has a dad. Same guy, now that I think of it. We love our dad. But he can’t walk very well. And when he does walk, it’s with a cane and he goes very sloooooowly. And when he falls, he can’t get himself up. How did this happen? No accident, no disease, no genetic reason, he just formed bad habits over time. That’s it. That’s all there is to it. His life is limited because he didn’t choose to make changes when he could. Now he is ruled by his limitations. All his physical limitations are self-induced. You got that? Every problem he has is due to lifestyle.

We, his daughters the exercise experts, could do nothing to help him because he wasn’t motivated. I love having my dad’s genetics, because I can stay healthy my whole life as long as I exercise and eat right (almost) every day until I die. That’s all there is to it. That’s the big secret. I am genetically built to have a great quality of life.

NOT choosing to take care of your health IS making a choice. If you always put off taking that one small step, you are choosing the path of bad habits. Take a look at this hysterical video my mom sent along:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5N1Im1xbjWQ&feature=player_embedded#!

It has nothing to do with health or fitness, but it explains why I’m about to say

PEOPLE, DON’T BE STUPID!

Don’t wait until you’re in a wheelchair or can’t get up or your doctor says your obesity is the cause of your health problems. Those drastic conditions are created by thousands of small poor choices. Being healthy isn’t about drastic changes either; it’s about small good choices. Lot’s of good choices.

So what’s it going to be? What can you do TODAY? What is ONE THING you can do? Only YOU have to live in your body. YOU control its destiny. It’s YOUR job to be its best friend. Be a good best friend. And we are there to help.

Best Friends Will Jump With You

Thank you to all who have signed up for our 30-Day Fitness Challenge. We are honored to be your partners in this journey. I am especially excited because most of my journeys involve road trips with Kymberly and we know how much she can talk! And she ALWAYS remembers her back-seat driver’s license!

In honor of the great body your parents gave you at birth, we’d love to know what you are doing today to be a friend to your body.

3

“New Year=New You: 30 Day Challenge” is Coming

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Dear Fun and Fit Readers, Movers, and (Booty) Shakers:

Pretend this is Kymberly after the Challenge

Do you want to become healthier, more fit, leaner, stronger, happier, more focused and um, where was I? Oh, right – focused…smarter, better-looking and on your way to a healthier lifestyle? All for under $10? Me too. Um, how exactly? Why, through the upcoming New Year=New You: 30 Day Fitness Challenge.

Starting shortly, you and all your friends, relatives, associates, Twitter twerps, workmates, stalkers, gurus, gym pals, neighbors, high school sweethearts and casual acquaintances will have the option to sign up for the Fun and Fit version of gettin’ your get up and go to giddy up! We’re making the gig ridiculously accessible cuz’ that’s how we roll and we want you and everyone you know to take part. Let’s get this 2011 fitness party started!

Our New Year=New You: 30 Day Fitness Challenge will share practical movement tips, motivational quotes, achievable lifestyle small steps, nutrition/diet hints, fitness facts and a lots of Fit-Tastic information that will put you on the road to lasting change. We’re so excited, we’re going to take our own advice and sign up! Okay, Kymberly will actually take Alexandra’s advice–that’s just how it works around here.

The New Year=New You: 30 Day Fitness Challenge is different and better than all those other programs you may have tried because it will offer well-rounded (like my butt-yes, that’s me in the picture above) advice that has already been proven effective for the thousands and thousands of students we’ve worked with over the years: practical, realistic, achievable and long-lasting lifestyle changes that you can use long after the 30 days are over. No gimmicks, no undue suffering, no taunting, no unsafe or short-term results; just new habits you will “sneak” into your lifestyle. Meanwhile, the 30 days are long enough to help you instill great habits with each day’s “challenge” while being short enough to stick with the jump start to 2011 and a new you.

Wanted: 1000 Challenge Participants

We hope to post YOUR photos, feedback, goofy moments, and successes–right next to the blackmail photos of Kymberly as she spends 30 days trying to work off 5 years of (dare I say it?) bad habits!

Old Year=Old Me: Pre-Challenge

The secret to success with the New Year=New You: 30 Day Fitness Challenge? We give you help, not take away things you love (hellooooo sprinkle donuts)! No Burn Out, just Bum Up (that’s British for “butt”). So make a New Year’s resolution you will feel good about throughout the year. Keep your eye on our site and hand on your credit card for sign-up details…as soon as we figure out how to set that up. We did mention that fitness, not tech knowledge, is our strength, right?

Quick Quiz Question (to be answered to Challenge participants): Do you burn more calories in one hour of hard core, full core, super duper exercise or in the other 23 hours of the day (even if those 23 hours are lethargic and mosey paced)? Knowing the correct answer will help guide your training choices.

17

Healthy Holiday Motivation – 5 Tips

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

I'm Dreaming of a White...

This is the time of year when millions thousands a crapload of people you and your best friends Betty and Veronica make resolutions and promises, some of them involving blood, toil, tears and sweat (quick, history buffs, who said this?)! This Season of Determination is quickly followed by the Season of Broken Dreams, as resolutions go out the door faster than old eggnog (an evil holiday beverage).

But do not despair; instead get motivated. There are ways to help yourself get and stay motivated to implement your goals.

Season of Broken Dreams

1. Focus on the Process, not the Outcome–The process is the road there; the outcome is the final destination. You cannot get from here to there without some sort of journey. In practice, this means take it one step at a time. Set yourself up for success by naming and writing down the steps it will take to get you where you want to be. “Get Super Buff” is a fuzzy outcome, because it’s not defined. What would that look like for you, and how will you get there?

Journey, not Destination

2. Make it More Fun–If you hate running, why promise yourself you’ll start a running program? In this situation, “running” is spelled F.A.I.L.U.R.E. As I mention in our Womensradio  radio broadcast on this topic, if you love to dance to Led Zeppelin, that’s what will be fun for you. Who cares if everyone else loves boot camp if your thing is boogie-ing down to disco classics?

Boogie Down with your Fit Self

3. Allow Yourself Opportunities for Mastery–Find activities you can do that allow you to become good at something. For example, if you hate push-ups, why beat yourself up that you cannot do a flying push-up (maybe I’ll post video of this someday)? Instead, try a wall or knee push-up.  Then you can legitimately tell yourself, “I did a push-up.” This is highly motivating and will lead to further successes!

4. Go With a Friend–Whether it’s in person, (a walk or exercise class together), or by check-in (“Hey, did you go to your fitness class today?), being accountable to a friend dramatically increases the chance that you’ll keep to your plan. No-one likes to be the one to let a friend down.

5. Avoid Comparisons–Face it, you will never be the person you were in college or your wedding (unless they were in your very recent past). You are older, and probably have a better ability to pace yourself now anyway! Comparing yourself to your distant past is like asking for a date with disappointment (yes, I know him. He was all hands). And comparing yourself to how you should be in some never-quite-there future doesn’t work either. If you must compare yourself to something, choose yesterday. Then do something that is more than yesterday and you’ll have a good basis for comparison. While you’re at it, don’t compare yourself to others either. They’re all either better-looking (darn your parents for those imperfect genes) or worse-looking (that’s just mean), so stop it right now! (Of course, I have an identical twin, so have a lot of experience with the comparison business – so sad for her!)

Speaking of my imaginary twin, she wrote an excellent piece on this very topic (wow, what a coincidence)!

Photo credits: Photobucket

Dear Motivated Readers: What little “tricks” do you use to help yourself stay motivated? And why is the word “ate” in “motivate?”

11

Fitness Fact or Fiction – Aaahh, Freak Out!

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

QUIZ TIME! How well do you know your Fitness Facts? Yes, it’s time to get your freak on with Fun and Fit, who examine the DARK side of activity this time around. At least one of the following Freak Out Fitness Facts is in fact, not a fact. Sadly, some of them are true. Can you pick out the fiction?

1) Adults and children spend an average of 70% of their awake time sitting (driving, eating, watching tv, reading, working at a computer, playing video games).

2) Kymberly is sitting now, being sedentary and adding to the dismal stats about sitting and butt parking. Oh, Meow!

3) The average woman adds 10 pounds of fat every decade.

4) Our readers are not average and therefore are bucking the fat gain stats.

5) Sedentary jobs have increased 83% since 1950; Physically active jobs now make up only about 25% of our workforce. That is 50% less than 1950.

6) Alexandra is way more fit than Kymberly.

Alexandra doing a back bend

Kymberly almost worked out

7) Eighty percent of midlife women (age 40 to 60) have one or more heart disease risk factors.

You better have said “number 6.” Or else……

Let’s end our time together today boys and girls with a few Fun Fit Facts….or Fiction???!! Can you pick out the Fun Fit Facts that do not belong?

1) Just five minutes of “green exercise” – cycling, gardening, fishing, or other outdoor activities – can enhance your mood and self esteem.

2) Exercise can improve your brainpower .

3) Fun and Fit are brainiacs beyond belief, partly because they work out regularly.

4) Studies show that for every hour of walking, life expectancy may increase by two hours.

What the heck??!! Did you think number 3 was the fiction? No way; that is solid fact. In fact, all of the Fun Fit Facts are TRUE. Motivated yet to at least go take a walk? 

Now, where did I put my high-heeled exercise shoes & fitness mini?

Photo Credits: Creative Commons & Photobucket

8

Eating Pre- and Post-Workout

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams-Evans, MA

Dear Fun and Fit: What should we eat before and after a workout? (there are loads of different stories about it).

Hanna, Mooncoin, Ireland

What’s the best thing to consume BEFORE a workout? And how long should you wait after eating before hitting the gym for maximum performance and gain?

Mary, Holland, Michigan

A: Hanna and Mary, have you two met? Similar question – different countries. Destined to meet and eat. Before and after a workout you should eat…wait for it…food. Healthful food. Stand back, experts at work. Dare I say carbohydrates and protein? In an excellent article, Jenna Bell-Wilson, PhD, RD, LD (this all means she’s an official expert) gives more complete details, but here are some carb/protein combo nuggets of info for you (no chickens were harmed in the making of our nuggets):

whole-grain toast and peanut butter
orange and cottage cheese
yogurt and granola
nuts and apple
hard-boiled egg and wheat bagel
chicken breast (still not a nugget) and rice
string cheese and pretzels

If you are looking for the donut and coffee combo, I’ll just tell you now, it ain’t going to happen. We would never recommend such a combo (although a certain twin who is NOT Alexandra would consider consuming it.

K: Hold on. I don’t drink coffee. Gee, what kind of aspersions are you casting about, twin who is NOT mine. As for the aspect of timing your food and workouts, the best answer is to listen to your own body. Mine tells me to skip the coffee and donuts – so there! – but to eat for sure. In fact, I am one of those hearty sorts who can exercise intensely five minutes after eating, no prob.  In general, though, time your workouts according to your meal size. If you eat a large meal — of carbs and protein — wait two to four hours before intensely exercising. If you want to work out sooner after you eat, then chow down on a smaller meal and wait about an hour or two. The Mayo Clinic further suggests that you eat protein and carbs within two hours post-workout.

But you know what? I live in the practical, real world. If I want to work out in the morning, I for sure want to eat brekkie first. But I am not going to wait until midday – three or four hours post brekkie – to get a’ goin’. Nor am I going to wake up at “too early stupid o’clock” to eat at 4:10am to be able to catch an 8:00am class. Remember the big picture: eat when you are hungry; be active as much as you can; focus on carbs and protein pre- and post-workout. Ta da!

A: Here’s what I always tell my students at the U–the closer it is to the ground, the better it is for you. The best workout food is grown, not processed into a foodlike substance (as Michael Pollan calls it).

So this: yes

And this: no

K: Dear regular fit people (not high-level, competitive athletes):  in case you are busy timing and planning your food and exercise, let me sum up the relevant portion of the article my sis recommended. “…consume a balanced snack 2–3 hours prior to exercise and … consume a carbohydrate- and protein-containing snack or meal following the session to help (you) advance (your) workout, enhance (your) glycogen stores and recover successfully.”
Please pass the box of chocolates.

Readers: What are your hot tips on what and when to eat relative to your workouts. And don’t tell us anything boring or we’ll drown our boredom in a donut.

Photo credits: Creative Common

14

Hot Tub: Warm Muscles

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Dear Fun and Fit: I like to warm up my muscles in a jacuzzi before my swim workout. Is it okay to stretch under this scenario? Claire, Goleta, CA

Kymberly: Wow! How big is your jacuzzi that you can stretch out in it and then take a swim? Can we come party at your place? With a few…….. hundred fitness pals? If so, then my answer is whatever you want it to be.

Alexandra: Warm up as in “Boy, that lobster in the pot sure has a surprise coming?” Are you asking if it’s okay to stretch after the jacuzzi dunking but before the pool swimming? One school of fish thought says that it actually doesn’t matter if you do the jacuzzi or the pool first; you’ll gain in flexibility in either case. The determining factor is the type of stretching. (Did you know flexibility came in choices – stretchy, super stretchy & Gumby?) There is some evidence that immersing yourself in a nice cold pool (by which I mean icy) can help with flexibility and muscle soreness after an intense workout, but I suspect this is not your plan! The American Council on Exercise likes your plan, though, so we give it the pool toy of approval. They recommend “doing a few stretches immediately after a shower or while soaking in a hot tub. The hot water elevates body and muscle temperature enough to make them more receptive to stretching.”

P

Make sense? In translation, I just said you should pretend your muscles are modeling clay (Gumby’s baaaack). If they’re warm, your muscles can do all kinds of bendy, pliable type moves. But take that clay straight from the fridge and brrrrrr, snap. Torn muscle. All in all, looks like you are okay to keep doing what you’ve been doing, which is good as you probably would have ignored our advice if we said no anyway!

K: I will add one key “ahoy matey” warning. Soaking in a hot tub tends to dehydrate a person. Swimming can do the same. So drink water before and after you swim, and not from the pool or hot tub YUCK! Ewwwww.

Readers and jacuzzi lovers: What has been your experience? Does a lovely warm soak help you stretch or just make you want to stretch out on the chaise longue (and yes, this is spelled correctly) and relax?

Photo credits: Photobucket

4

Go Ahead. Motivate My Day!

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Dear Fun and Fit: I am relatively healthy, but over the years I’ve developed arthritis and diabetes…. I have meds that have added to my weight gain…. Although I have access to a gym, I don’t have workout clothes. As someone with chronic pain, any suggestions on how to motivate myself to exercise?

Liz, Alexandria, VA

A: I’d say you motivate yourself the same way as those who aren’t in pain – by yelling, guilt, comparison with others, negative self-talk and a serious taunting of your mirror! Oh, wait (hits brakes and skids into ditch), those are actually found to NOT be motivating. Oh, that’s very different. Never mind.

1. Go with friends.

2. Wear comfortable clothing (doesn’t have to be “workout” clothes), but not ugly, baggy stuff that makes you feel frumpy.

3. Research has shown that arthritis pain is ameliorated by exercise.

4. Some interesting news just came out a few weeks ago showing that diabetes can be reduced or even reversed in combination with a good diet.

5. Only do a few minutes at a time. You will be miserable and unsuccessful if you try too much.

6. If your club offers a free intro session with a personal trainer, take it. Make sure it’s someone with knowledge of medical issues. A good trainer will be encouraging and give realistic, achievable goals.

Kymberly: I am pretty sure Alexandra was talking about her parenting techniques in that first part. Finally she can put her Master’s Degree in Counseling to some use besides making us all crazeeeee!. More to the point, I want to add a few points:

1) Wear whatever will get you to the gym. Except the MC Hammer pants. So last decade or two. Believe me, everyone else is too busy with their own workout and body image to worry about what you are wearing….unless you are not wearing anything. Guaranteed attention getter. For more on this plus a laugh or two, check out our post from waaaaaay back when we were the same age and weight as now: Do Sexy Clothes Make The Workout.

2) Ask yourself: “What is the LEAST amount of exercise I can do today and still feel I made some progress and did not aggravate my pain?” Whatever the answer is–5 minutes, 12 minutes, 49 seconds–commit to this least amount and revel in accomplishing it. Keep asking this question every day. Lo and behold, you will find the minutes adding up, the guilt and overloaded feeling going down, your pain levels dropping, and your gym fees worthwhile. But not going up. One hopes….

Photo credits: Photobucket

Dear Readers: What skills do you draw upon to motivate yourself to be active? What is your favorite motivational quote?

7

Love Exercise; Work is a Pain Though

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Dear Fun and Fit: Yep, I am a workaholic and a busy mom of three, but I still try to get my exercise. I try to get a bike ride and a couple of kettle bell workouts a week. Additionally, I have a workout bench on an incline that I like to do crunches. My problem comes with the endless hours I spend at the desk. I have a recurring pain in my right shoulder blade, on my mousing side, and it affects my shoulder’s range of motion. It usually flares up after I have been working extra hard. I would like some exercises and stretches I could do throughout the day. At my husband’s work, they call them fitness breaks and they are designed to prevent Repetitive Stress Injuries (RSIs). I am sure almost all of we desk jockey’s could use some pointers about this. Thanks!  Kami, Houston, TX

Desk Jockey with Poor Posture

Alexandra: Why are you working extra hard? That’s just wrong. You should go work with your husband since his company gives wife-smooching fitness breaks. But let’s just imagine for a second that you like your job and have no plans to change your good-girl of fitness ways. That’s a flare-up of another color.

1. Check your chair height. If it’s too low, you are over-contracting in the upper traps (shoulder/neck area).

2. Stretches – Do some that lengthen and release the upper torso area.

3. Posture, posture, and oh, posture. Go back and read this so that I don’t have to repeat repeat myself: http://funandfit.org/2010/07/straight-scoop-on-super-posture/

4. Many people like to roll the shoulders forward. Why? I don’t understand that. Most desk jockeys are already over-stretched in the back and over-tight in the front (chest/shoulders). Why do more? So….a mini-desk fitness minute is to roll your shoulders back and down. Don’t roll forward.

5. Lastly, find out if your company has an ergonomic professional on staff. If so, that person can assess your work area to make it more physically functional and supportive.

Kymberly: Let’s also address the “endless hours you spend at a desk,” you “desk jockey” you. Look for opportunities to stand up more and sit less. When you talk on the phone, stand or walk about your work area. At least once an hour get up and out of the sitting position. Walk to the farthest bathroom; get supplies one at a time; forego calling a colleague and go see that person in person. Oooh, I like the alliteration of that last sentence, which rolled so trippingly off the mouse. Gotta go stand up now or risk turning mousy. In short, interrupt your desk jockey pattern. RSI is Really Sucky Inactivity so actively check that you are not in the same position for minutes on end. One great hour of exercise cannot overcome 8 hours of a locked-in sitting position. But if that ergonomic professional advises a hot tub, spa, and barcalounger for your office, go for it! With three kids you deserve some down time. Yeah, Down at the Gym!

Readers: What are your favorite workplace exercises or stretches? What is your favorite work?

4

HomeBody Workout

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Dear Fun and Fit: Just read your article at noozhawk.com and I’d love to hear your suggestions on how to add 15-20 minutes of weight-training exercises at home 3-4 times a week using free weights, bands, etc.  The more specific the better! I do different types of cardio during the week, all outside here in beautiful Santa Barbara! I realize at the age of 52 that it is more and more difficult to tone up and lose some fat and weight, just about 5 pounds. I do not belong to a gym and so would like to have the tools to do this at home so my metabolism can rev up and that flab can turn to leaner muscle! many thanks

Alexandra, Santa Barbara, CA.

Alexandra: Let’s start with two wondertastic exercises you can do at home with NO equipment where you could get lots of ROI (Rugburn On Impact) – squats and push-ups. The problem is that most people do these with poor, less-than-ideal, blackmail-photo-worthy form. Let’s just say this is where trainers earn their money. But this site has some very specific total body and lunchtime exercises that will have you worshipping me so much that you’ll want to change your name to Alexandra, just to be like me! Hey, wait a minute!

.

Kymberly: Disclaimer – this is not my sister questioning herself. That could happen, mind you. But in this case, TWO Alexandras exist in one website. 2 Good + 2 Be = 4Gotten. Next to acknowledge is that reading our posts at noozhawk will lighten your day. And maybe your body weight! .

A: One of the all-time best workouts we’ve experienced that will kick-start your metabolism comes from Aileen Sheron. You might like to check out her tubing variable resistance DVD. Or get a motorcycle and pump it over your head a few times. Zoom Zoom.

K: Just get the darn DVD. You will have so many awesome (euphemism for “butt kicking”) exercises to choose from. And, no we get no kickback from the Fun and Fit bump we just gave the DVD. (Aileen, if you are reading this–and you should, geewillikers!–send us free DVDs will ya??!) Not too proud to beg.

Back to you, Alexandra #2: Also perform ab exercises as part of your program. I LOVE reverse curls as they activate the ab muscles from the bottom up, instead of the top down. No, that is not a suggestion of how to wear your sports bra when training or how to drive your convertible. Ab exercises involve the spine, which can flex and bend all over the place. So you can pull your hip bones toward your rib cage (bottom up) or you can pull your rib cage toward your hip bones (top down). Either way, the move is free, portable, available at home, and important for your goals. The one thing I would change in this video is to keep your legs parallel, NOT crossed at the ankle. I always suggest training to achieve symmetry and balance, so minimize the crossed feet. Maximize the name “Alexandra” though as it is a way cool name. Almost as cool as my name.

Photo credits:Photobucket

Readers: What is your all time FAVE home weight training exercise and why should we care?