A Publication of WTVP

Young or old, overweight or very thin, rich or poor, we all must exercise-or suffer the consequences. So why do only 20 percent of American adults exercise regularly? A little thing called "instinct" may have something to do with it.

Be honest, if we had it our way, many of us would be home in front of the television with the remote in one hand and our favorite snack in the other. In fact, if we truly followed our instincts, we would eat as much as possible, sleep whenever convenient, and avoid any form of physical labor-especially exercise.

Properly performed, exercise can be physically uncomfortable. In direct response to muscular work, our heart beats faster, respiration increases, we begin to sweat, muscles fatigue, lungs burn, and several other physical manifestations occur. These symptoms of productive exercise-while completely normal, harmless, and unavoidable-are nonetheless unpleasant to experience. When confronted with these feelings, something inside tells us to quit what we're doing and let our body rest. That may relieve the symptoms, but it won't stimulate optimal improvements in physical fitness.

As humans, we have the unique ability to override our instincts with intellectual control. We know the potentially uncomfortable feelings one experiences from exercise won't really harm us. In addition, after an exercise session, we know we'll be able to replenish ourselves with food and proper rest in a timely manner. By understanding the numerous health-related benefits to be reaped from exercising, we can circumvent our instincts and proceed with a structured exercise program. Following are a few motivating tips for starting and sticking with an exercise program: