Ready, set, go with a purpose

Cathleen Kronemer, NSCA-CPT, Certified Health Coach, is a longtime fitness instructor at the Jewish Community Center. 

By Cathleen Kronemer

President Barack Obama recently issued a proclamation in which he declared May to be National Physical Fitness and Sports Month. In that proclamation, he called upon the entire population to make daily physical activity, sports participation and good nutrition a priority in their lives.

The majority of Americans already know that, when coupled with a prudent nutritional plan, exercise can play a vital role in helping to maintain a healthy weight. We also have heard and read how research studies have proven overwhelmingly that individuals who exercise tend to live longer on average than their sedentary counterparts. Regular physical activity may even reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, some forms of cancer, and depression. However, despite all of this strong evidence, there are still many among us who find the mere thought of exercising to be dismal and unappealing.

Perhaps the key to “being a verb,” as I like to think of exercise, lies in finding the unique form of movement that speaks to you on some level. Finding hobbies and activities that have a personal meaning may contribute to a long life. Japanese researchers have found that, over a 13-year period, men with a strong sense of purpose were less likely to die from stroke, heart disease, or other causes when compared to those with a low sense of purpose. Another study conducted at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago indicated that having a greater sense of purpose may be linked to a reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

How, exactly, can an exercise embody a sense of meaningful intent? Consider the tens of thousands of individuals who choose to participate in the Komen Race For The Cure event every year.  For so many of the women who enter the race, every step toward the finish line represents a step closer to a cure, or a step away from the treatment they have just successfully completed.  Many choose to wake up early that morning and run as a way of honoring a loved one who is in the throes of breast cancer; for others, it is a way of memorializing a family member who recently lost her battle.  Exercising with a sense of purpose can propel you further, helping you make it all the way to the end of a challenging workout, whether it is running or any other physical passion.

We all know that living a productive and happy life begins with establishing your personal sense of self, identifying what drives you, and capitalizing on that sense of purpose each and every day. It is no different with exercise.  Find what “moves” you, from deep within your soul; then, put that purpose into action! Empower your verb!