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Marsh column: Getting motivated to exercise

Q. I don’t like to exercise, but I keep hearing about how I need to exercise. Can you motivate me?
A. I wish I could sell motivation in a bottle ó everyone would buy it! A woman signed up for our Y Wait program, which is a 12-week program to make positive lifestyle changes. (It’s full and has started already). She asked me if she would lose weight signing up for this program. I replied that we would give the tools and support for her to get healthier and possibly lose weight but that she is the one who has to do it! What is that saying? You can bring the horse to water but the horse has to drink it.
What surprises me each time is that most people have no problem taking pills for this and that (and would no doubt buy motivation in a bottle if it were available) but when a doctor tells them to exercise so they don’t have to take the pills or can get away with a lesser dose, any excuse will come up.
To lead a healthy lifestyle, you HAVE to make choices. What do you want out of life? Do you want to be able to do things, move better, feel better, or are you satisfied with immobility, being overweight/obese, unable to perform daily tasks? Most people I talk to want to lose weight. They want to be able to move better. They want to have more energy, be able to do things.
Well, guess what? It takes work and dedication. I have told you before that I was in shock when I did a survey of how many people who exercise regularly answered that they did not like to exercise! They do it because it makes them feel better, look better, gives them more energy, and lots of times gives them the ability to do the things they thought they could not do anymore.
There are two wonderful older active adults who come to our YMCA daily, Kat and Evelyn. They are my idols. When I grow up, I want to be just like them. They made that choice to exercise a long time ago. They come all the time. They take water exercise classes, walk, and take a land group exercise class. I joke with them that they have a part-time job coming to exercise at the YMCA. They are constantly making the choice to do what is best for their bodies no matter what health issues come their way.
Kat and Evelyn ó you inspire me every day. There are so many more people who come to the YMCA because they want to feel better, move better, and be healthy. My hat’s off to all of you.
In today’s times of economic instability and healthcare costs through the roof, you can make the choice to live healthier by exercising and eating better. I spoke to a young man who said that his mom spends $400 a month on medication. I know, some of you say, “I wish mine was that low.”
Exercise has proven to be beneficial to your health. Lots of people can lower, or even cut out certain medications entirely when they start exercising regularly and eating sensibly.
Start slow and easy, and try different things. Try the water exercise classes if you have joint problems. Try chair yoga or a body movement class. You will find your niche but you are the one who has to make that choice. You are the one who has to take the initiative.
I don’t know about you but I want to be like Kat and Evelyn AND Camille and Lynn and Cora, just to name some older active adults who make that choice every day and who are my poster children to prove that exercise IS beneficial to your health. I am proud and want to encourage everyone who is trying to better their lifestyle. I know it seems hard and impossible at times, but the choice is yours.
nnnEster Marsh is associate executive director of the J.F. Hurley Family YMCA. Contact her with health and fitness questions and 704-636-0111 or emarsh@ rowanymca.com.

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