Checkup: Reasons to Work Out
The Surgeon General Ė who is African American Ė raised a few eyebrows recently, when she was quoted saying that one reason many African American women might be reluctant to exercise is because it messes up their hair, which can be expensive to maintain. Eric Metcalf has more.
Eric: I hadnít heard that reason for not exercising, but she is the Surgeon General and, unlike me, she has hair, so she probably knows what sheís talking about.
To find answers for other reasons why women donít exercise, I turned to my friend Selene Yeager, a fitness columnist, personal trainer, and Ironman triathlete.
Selene, are you ready for your easiest test ever?
Selene: I am.
Eric: What if women say, "I donít like guys looking at me while I work out."
Selene: Quite a few options here, Eric. One is women-only gyms, very popular, Curves is still everywhere. Go into a company where there are only other women worrying about working out. No watchful eyes of the opposite sex. And the other is simply just gathering with a few friends and going to a park, or doing it at home."
Eric: But I donít live in a safe neighborhood.
Selene: This one is unfortunately real. People who live in unsafe neighborhoods are one-and-a-half times more likely to be overweight than those who live in friendlier ones. Safety in numbers. The best thing you can do is find a group, or join the Y, put together a simple routine you can do at home. It doesnít take much.
Eric: My feet hurt.
Selene: Women, get your feet measured. Women are notorious for wearing shoes that are too small. This can cause a world of hurt when you work out. Even if you were one size when you were younger, donít assume that doesnít change. Our feet continue to expand in our adult lives. So wear the right size even if the number is higher than you like, nobody can see it. And wear the right shoe for the job. If youíre walking, walking shoes are stiffer, get walking shoes. If youíre running, running shoes need to be flexible, so get running shoes.
Eric: I donít like feeling sore.
Selene: Ease into it. If you have not exercised at all, start walking 10, then 15, then 20 minutes a day. You wonít be feeling worked or worked-out. And while itís true that you may be a little sore the first few times you do something like strength training or Pilates, it wonít last more than a few days, and you wonít be sore every time you work out. I promise.
Eric: Iím not in good enough shape to get started.
Selene: Thatís like saying my hair is too long and shaggy to get it cut. Doesnít work. Youíll need to start slow; but time will pass no matter what you do. Make the choice that in a year youíre going to be fitter than you are now. Youíll be in so much better shape if you start now and do something, than if you donít do anything and let the time pass.