If you set a goal, achieve it, and recognize the accomplishment in athletics, you have a reason to confidently assume that you can overcome any obstacle and achieve any goal for the rest of your life.

Example: You're dang right I can fix this problem! Afterall, I ran the mile in (fill in the blank) flat, didn't I! You're dang right I did!

Why Start Now: Immediate Benefits
Long Term Benefits

Preteens and teenagers are less fit today than ever before. One of the reasons for this is the computer you're using right now. Between the internet, the television, the telephone, computer games, and school, it's easy for teens to spend the majority of their day being physically inactive. It's not your fault you have to sit in class all day and recess has become a remnant of the past. However, it is extremely vital to your present and future health that you find the small amount of time needed to treat your body to the benefits of 20 minutes of exercise at least 3 days a week. It's an incredibly small investment to make in order to gain the incredible benefits you are about to hear.

Why Start Now: Immediate Benefits

Exercise now may increase the amount of growth hormone you produce. During your teens and twenties the body is pumping out more than ample amounts of growth hormone - the chemical that keeps your muscles strong. Vigorous exercise at this age may increase the amount of growth hormone you produce. If you wait until after your twenties, you've missed the boat. Men reach they're physical peak during their early 20's, so take advantage of your time now and strengthen your body.

Exercise increases your energy for whatever you want to use it for - studying, sports, fun, annoying your older sister or taunting your younger brother, etc. Why? Aerobic training strengthens your heart, develops your circulatory system, and in a matter of weeks increases the efficiency of your lungs and your respiratory system. This provides you with more oxygen and since oxygen is used to create energy, you will have more energy. In addition, aerobic exercise causes development of mitochondria in the muscle cells. Mitochondria are the organelles that produce ATP, your body's energy currency. More mitochondria result in even more energy. Exercise also allows you to get a deeper, higher quality sleep, which also results in more energy!

Increased respiratory efficiency will make you more likely to survive an emergency in which breathing is obstructed. Not to freak you out or anything, but dangers do exist that could obstruct fresh oxygen from reaching your body. Examples include choking on food, falling through ice into a lake, a concussion near water, an air embolism during a scuba diving trip, etc. If your lungs and respiratory system are more efficient, then you will naturally have more oxygen in your blood at the time of a possible tragedy. This allows you to survive longer without a supply of fresh oxygen, and makes you more likely to walk away than someone who does not exercise regularly.

Exercise makes your skin beautiful. If you want beautiful healthy looking skin, forget tanning salons, beauty products and mud masks. All you need is the increased development of your circulatory system that results from aerobic exercise. The increased growth of capillaries in your skin will give your skin a healthier warmer color, and since your skin will be more efficiently supplied with oxygen and nutrients from the developing capillaries, your skin will look and feel a whole lot healthier and more beautiful.

Exercise makes your body more beautiful than it already is. If you want a beautiful looking body, forget concealing clothes, macho attitudes, cosmetic surgery, and sucking in your stomach. All you need is the toning and self-confidence you get from exercise. The self-confidence and energy you gain through exercise out-shines whatever physical trait you might be self-conscious of. People with beautiful confident personalities are inherently attractive because of their strength and self-assurance. In fact those permanent physical traits you may be uncomfortable with are usually the traits that end up making you endearingly unique. This is hard to believe when you don't exercise, when you're out of shape, and you don't feel heathy or beautiful. However, when you exercise, you will enjoy looking at yourself more because you will see progress. You'll start to look healthier. You'll develop toned muscles. Your posture will strengthen and improve. If you are overweight, you'll start looking trimmer. If you're underweight you'll finally have an appetite. Either way, you'll achieve a more normal weight. You'll see newfound strength within yourself and more confidense for the goals you wish to accomplish. Pretty soon you'll start loving who you are. Any features you had that were a result of being out of shape, now look a lot better. Those other more permanent features that remain and make you unique, now look a lot better because they're on a more healthy human being, and frankly they're part of the new you that you love. Meanwhile, nobody else cares about your self-conscious features - they're all too busy checking out the beautiful improvements in your positive personality and in your new healthy body.

Weight bearing exercise makes your bones more resistant to injury. Weight training increases bone density. The higher your bone density, the stronger your bones are, and the more resistant they are to injury. Contrary to popular belief, both sexes suffer from osteoporosis, the reduction of bone mass leading to debilitating bone fractures. Women start losing bone in their 30's, while men start losing bone in their 40's to early 50's. This may sound like the distant future. However, starting weight-bearing workouts now and maintaining a workout routine throughout your life will result in a high bone density, thus adding strength to your bones and more bone material to your reserves. When osteoporosis hits, you will have extra bone material to spare allowing you to experience regular bone loss while still keeping injury at bay. If you don't start exercising now, your bones will already be weak and more prone to injury by the time osteoporosis hits. Injuries in your old age cannot heal as they do now. To be blunt, a bone injury then could leave you crippled. So, to avoid becoming a victim, one must act now to improve their life in the future.

Now is the best time to start preventing future heart attack or stroke. Arteriosclerosis, hardening of the arteries, can begin at a very young age if you have a family history of heart disease. Exercise prevents arteriosclerosis, thus the sooner you start exercising the less likely you will be to have a heart attack or stroke in the future.

Working out now will avoid the health risks associated with being overweight. If you exercise now and trim your waistline, you will cut your chances for being overweight as an adult in half. Some believe they'll start exercising in adulthood to prevent adult-type problems. However, this is very difficult if one hasn't exercised for the first twenty some years of their life. Pegnancy, a full-time-job, kids, and marriage all seem to have a fattening effect on people. Take a good look at yourself. Now you have the energy of youth. You have growth hormones pumping through your system. You have an incredible ability to generate muscle and bone tissue now that will diminish with time. Take advantage of this opportuntiy and let's get physical!

You gain more benefit and can train harder now than later. At this age you are more able to safely handle high intensity workouts with high levels of physical stress. Pushing yourself hard now gains you more and quicker benefits from aerobic exercise than it will later. The best time for high impact exercises like football, rugby, soccer, running, baseball, basketball and tennis is now, while your body is still strong and responsive. As you grow older, you will become more limited as to what you can achieve and how hard you can push yourself. Right now, between varsity sports, intramural sports, athletic clubs and physical education classes, physical activities are more accessible to you than they ever will be. So kick some ass now in high school and college sports for long lasting memories and long lasting strength. (Just remember to warm up, cool down and stretch before and after, because although your strong, nobody is indestructible.)

Exercise increases your self-esteem and improves your self-image.

Exercise decreases your risk of depression.

Exercise relieves your stress.

Exercise makes it easier for you to relax and get quality sleep.

Exercise allows you to enjoy life more

Long Term Benefits

Exercise protects your heart and lungs against disease.

Exercise increases the efficiency of your heart and the flow of blood through your cardiovascular system. This efficient flow reduces the stress on your heart thus lowering your heart rate. The efficient flow also increases clearance of lipids from your arteries, increases the enzymes that break down fat, and delays formation of fibrin, all of which contribute to the prevention of arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and thus to the prevention of a heart attack. Arteriosclerosis can begin at a very young age if you have a family history of heart disease. This is one more reason it's important to start exercising now.

If you do experience a heart attack, stroke or aneurysm, you will be in better shape to handle it. With increased respiratory fitness, you are able to retain more oxygen in your system, thus giving you more time to save yourself or for someone else to save you.

Exercise reduces your risk of life threatening female-specific diseases. Ladies listen up! If you start exercising NOW, it can reduce your risk for...

  • Breast cancer
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Endometrial cancer (cancer of the uterus)
  • Osteoporosis (a weakening of bone after menopause).

Exercise controls your weight. The death rate for 45 to 60 year-olds increases about 1% for every pound of fat over the recommended weight. You are twice as likely to be overweight as an adult if you remain overweight now. Weight control is a necessity to remaining healthy.

Exercise relieves nervous tension. An entire day of stress can be lifted away with one hour of exercise. When you're angry and uptight your "fight or flight" response induced by your sympathetic nervous system is switched into high gear. Your heart is beating faster, you're breathing harder, your blood sugar is increasing giving you an excess of pent up energy, and your blood clots more easily. You need to fight or flight! This is the only way to kick in the balancing power of your parasympathetic nervous system, which calms you. The tranquilizing effects of exercise are enhanced if the activity is pleasurable and requires mental concentration. There are so many exercises from which to choose, so you should be able to find at least one that does bring you pleasure. Exercise also helps you achieve a deep restful sleep, resulting in reduced stress.

Exercise amazingly gives you more energy. Exercise trains your muscle cells to produce more energy. Exercise stimulates a dramatic increase in the number and size of mitochondria within your muscle cells. Mitochondria are organelles that produce ATP, the ultimate energy-storing molecule. Because of exercise your muscles can produce up to twice as much ATP as they would otherwise. This provides you with a consistently higher level of energy. Exercise also helps you achieve a deep restful sleep, which will result in more energy during the day.

Exercise makes you smarter. With increased levels of energy and a more restful sleep your mind will be sharper. Increased levels of energy provided by regular exercise will supply your brain with the energy it needs to think quickly and clearly. More oxygen will get to your brain because of the increased efficiency of your redpiratory and cardiovascular system. Restful sleep resulting from regular exercise allows your brain to reinforce whatever it learned the previous day, enhancing your memory. The self-discipline skills you develop during an exercise program can be applied to your schoolwork as well. Two different studies of freshman male college students linked good physical fitness to good grades. You no longer have to be a skinny nerd to be smart. Exercise, and impress the teacher with your grades and your biceps, while the teacher's pet whimpers in the front seat!

Exercise strengthens bones and ligaments. Exercise, especially weight bearing activities and weight training, can prevent calcium loss and bone loss. At this point in your life, exercise will help build a reserve of calcium and bone which you will need (both men and women) later in life to combat osteoporosis.

Exercise can prevent back pain.

Exercise maintains healthy muscle tone
Healthy muscle tone aids digestion and eliminates constipation. Increasing the tone and strength of your abdominal muscles can enhance the normal movement of food through your digestive system.

Healthy muscle tone helps keep the blood circulating.

Strong abdominal muscles aid the diaphragm in pumping blood to the heart while breathing. Well-toned leg muscles compress veins whenever you move your legs, which helps pump the blood back toward the heart. This helps prevent blood from pooling, clotting, or causing leg veins to expand into "varicose veins".

Healthy muscle tone improves your posture and thus can improve your overall mood and confidence.

Toned muscles automatically result in a more comfortable attractive posture. As a person's posture improves, their mood naturally improves. As they stand taller and direct their site higher, their brain is fooled into feeling more optimistic and self-confident. Don't believe it? Try this right now, if you don't: Stand up. Breath deeply. Kick your chin up and swing your arms in big strong arcs. Clap your hands together as you swing your arms. Walk around the room as if you had tons of excited energy, and were a strong fearless confident leader. Now yell, "ALL RIGHT, BABY!!!" Now tell us if you don't feel more awake, energetic, and optimistic. This exercise proves that physical activity effects your mental state. It's also a good way to get motivated or to snap out of a depressed state. Exercise, just like these actions, provides the physical action and the improved change in posture that triggers a positive mental state.

Healthy muscle tone helps women bear a child.

Girls, pregnancy is physically demanding resulting in a gain of 25 to 35 pounds, 50% more blood for your heart to pump and 20% more oxygen required at rest. Exercise can provide you with the strength you'll need to handle these taxing changes. Abdominal strength may shorten labor and reduce pain during delivery. Moderate aerobic exercise and the resulting muscle conditioning can reduce fatigue, boost your spirits, improve your quality of sleep and prevent back pain, muscle cramps, swelling and constipation during pregnancy. Furthermore, a lack of exercise according to some physicians might pose a threat of spontaneous abortion.

How to exercise during pregnancy:

Over 3 to 4 weeks gradually build up to a routine of 20 minutes of exercise, 3 days a week. (You'll probably be doing this anyway, right?) The following exercises are recommended to strengthen the muscles under the most stress during the third trimester and birth...

  • Tailor Sitting: to strengthen and stretch the muscles of the back, inner thighs and pelvis
  • Kegel Exercises: to strengthen the muscles of the pelvic floor and minimize urine leakage and hemorrhoids
  • Pelvic tilt: to relieve backache and strengthen abdominal muscles
  • Squatting: to increase leg strength. And you'll need it to carry another person around for 9 months. When in labor, it helps to squat for a few minutes every so often to open the pelvis further for delivery. If you haven't strengthened your quads with a squatting exercise routine, it'll be extremely difficult to squat at the time of labor. In the US and Europe, the mother usually lies on her back during delivery, to give the doctor the best view. However, Squatting is the most comfortable way to deliver, since it lines the baby up for a clean exit, lets gravity do some work and makes for stronger more efficient and less painful contractions.

Exercises to avoid while pregnant:

  • Any exercise at high altitudes where oxygen is limited
  • Scuba diving
  • Any exercise that carries a risk of collision or falling such as horseback riding, high jumping, poll vaulting, rollerblading, climbing, downhill skiing or water skiing
  • During the second and third trimesters, avoid strenuous athletic competition.

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