Exercise: the key to a healthy life

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by Aniket Panicker

The four principles of exercise are mental and physical health, rest and enjoyment. It is necessary to find a balance between these four aspects to have a healthy life balance.

Aniket Panicker, Reporter

James Glover had just graduated college when a realization hit him. A realization that was not made by him, but by the people around him. A realization that he was getting fat.

“I’ll never forget this,” Glover said. “So I go back to one of my high school games, got my sweater on, my jeans on, and I’m ready to see everyone. Like the big college guy in town, and one of my old classmates, she says to me ‘Man you’re getting fat.’ And she said that in front of everyone.”

This single realization was all it took for Glover to dedicate his life and career toward exercise. And now, this PE coach makes it his mission to help others see the true value of exercise.

“I changed,” Glover said. “I used to go to Hermann Park and I kept jogging and walking. So now, that’s just what I do. It helps me mentally, emotionally, socially. I’m in a great place physically right now.”

But times have changed. Glover is no longer the small boy who grew up in the farm of an athletic family. And parks are no longer as healthy a playground due to COVID-19. But this hasn’t stopped the adhering basketball coach from exercising. Glover, while anxious about these changes, has decided to adapt to the environment outside.  

“I do feel anxious a little bit, I do,” Glover said.  “But I do my research. Like where should I exercise? How much distance should I maintain from people? Is the virus airborne? So you know, I did my research on that. So by researching, I can keep my social distancing. I wear a mask all the time, and then I stay in areas that aren’t heavily populated.”

Environmental restrictions such as COVID-19 are not the only barrier restricting exercise. Issues such as anxiety and depression may also sway minds away from exercise. Conversely, these very issues can be tackled effectively through exercise

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“I think with any anxiety you should take time for yourself and possibly focus on getting your heart rate up,” Swim Coach Jason Schmidt said. “Doing something that interests you, doing some cardio activity where you’re sweating. This will take your brain off of whatever is making you anxious.

Throughout his 40 years of devout passion for exercise and sport, not once has Schmidt seen exercise as something extra. He sees it as a part of who he is. It helps him process his emotions and feelings and helps him digest what has happened during the day. And all of this begins for him in one place: his mind. 

  “You really need to have the right mindset when you decide you want to incorporate exercise in your life,” Schmidt said.“I would say for anyone that’s having any challenges for staying active or wanting to take that next step to be active, make a plan. Set a smaller goal within the day.  If you’ve got some time over lunch, try to have a lighter lunch a bit earlier so that you can have an activity from 12 to 1 or 12 to 12:30.”

For Schmidt, his love for exercise and sport stem from his childhood. It was then he discovered his deep passion for sport. And it is a passion that he has carried into his adulthood. A passion he does not regret having. 

“I think I was probably 9 or 10 years old,” Schmidt said. “I had tried out for the soccer team and I was a really quick runner, so they put me on the outside wing. And so I just ran and ran and ran, and I never got the ball. And I think I realized in that moment, nine or ten years old, that I really enjoy running. So that’s what I’m going to do. I’m not just going to sit out here and do nothing, I’m just going to keep running.”

Exercise has played a huge role in both Glover’s and Schmidt’s lives. From their passions to their day-to-day routines, exercise has influenced all of it. But that’s not all it has done for them

Along with everyday intricacies and enjoyment, exercise has also helped them get through some of their toughest times in life

“There are times when you question some of the decisions you make,” Glover said. “For instance, when I’m coaching, I make decisions that cost us a big game, like a game that would go to state. And I second guess. And I think ‘Am I really this kind of guy?’ or ‘What am I not doing right?’ I am not okay with me not reaching my goal. And so it motivates me, exercise. I put my exercising brain cap on, I start thinking while I’m exercising, and so it’s just myself, my thoughts, and then exercise.” 

But while exercise has helped Glover to stabilize his life, and his thoughts, he has to give his body a break. While exercise is necessary, so is rest. And for exercise to have a health effect on the body, it is first important to form a healthy relationship with exercise.

“Sometimes it wears you down,” Glover said. “You know, you do need to give your body a break. There was a point where I was exercising six days a week, sometimes I would go seven especially with the walk. But now I’m doing five to six, so you start feeling good after the exercise, but you also start feeling, ‘okay I need to give my body a rest’, and when you start feeling that way you have to listen to it.”

Contrary to physical activity, there is mental activity, which also falls into a category of exercise. Staying mentally active is just as  important as staying physically active as both these forms of exercise compliment each other to the benefit of the body. Things such as puzzles, crosswords, rubix cubes and simple meditation help generate mental activity.

“There are so many things when you’re mentally active,” Schmidt said. “Your endorphins, chemically what happens in your body will take your mindset to a different area, to a different place. And it helps you to problem solve, self reflect, and really digest what’s happened during the day.”

Exercise isn’t just restricted to the stereotype of running on treadmills for hours and lifting weights. There are a variety of exercises that can be performed. Simple Indoor exercises can provide a variety of different benefits and are just as beneficial. 

“You know, there’s a stereotype that exercise is lifting weights and running on a treadmill, well for a lot of people that just sounds horrible,” Schmidt said. “I say, try to add some spark to it. Do a search and see if there is something else that you could do, that you like.”

But despite the restrictions of COVID-19 and the worries of the mind, there is still a hurdle remaining: motivation. 

For Glover, it was the realization that he was gaining weight. For Schmidt, it was his undying passion for running and sport. But for both of them, it was the mental satisfaction, as well as the enjoyment they gained by exercising. 

“When it comes down to each of us as an individual, you have to pick something that you like,” Schmidt said. “For example, say that you hate riding a bike, you hate riding a bicycle. If you hate riding a bicycle, no coach, no athletic trainer is going to persuade you to ride your bike ten times a week and enjoy it. Like that’s just something you wanna do. So you have to find something that you really enjoy doing. If you like walking, or jogging, or running, go do that. Whatever the exercise is, that’s what I think people should focus on.”