Why I Exercise

Why I Exercise

Julian Whitaker, MD

Why do people exercise regularly, and why should you? Is it to prevent disease? To lose weight? Only partly. Let me tell you why I exercise, and maybe you will look at it in a different light.

It was Sunday afternoon and I had not done exercised in several days, nor did I feel like exercising. But I changed into my running clothes and headed out for a 40-minute jog. It was a bright, sunny day in early autumn. As I started out, my spirits lifted immediately, and as I warmed up, my mind became more active and productive. The solutions to two problems that had been bugging me for a week came to me, and I wondered why I had missed them before. I gradually got up to my cruising speed and marveled at how different I felt compared to before I headed out.

For years, I have known that the most creative time for me is while I am exercising. Often I have raced home in order to write something down before I forgot it. I have even considered carrying a tape recorder with me while jogging, but that would make the jog seem too much like “work.” I finished my run. My mood was up and I felt relaxed.

Exercise Makes You Feel and Think Better

Physical activity increases production of a compound in the brain called B-endorphin. When levels of this “feel-good” substance increase, life becomes more pleasant. Pain sensations diminish, and a sense of well-being emerges. Walter M. Bortz, II, MD, from Stanford University School of Medicine, measured the B-endorphin levels in well-trained athletes before and during a race. He found that, compared to a control group of volunteers, their B-endorphin resting levels were much higher than average, and their racing levels were off the chart.

I had the privilege several years ago of meeting Garry Kasparov, the former world chess champion, and asked him how he prepares for a match. He told me that for six months before a match, he jogs, lifts weights, swims, and bicycles at levels comparable to Olympic athletes. He programs his training so that he sits down at the chess board in peak physical condition. He said he can’t understand how people can expect to be mentally sharp when they are physically dull.

Incredible benefits flow from regular activity, but like all good things in life, effort is required. As every dedicated exerciser will tell you, the hardest part about starting is putting on your running shoes.


  • Let us at the Whitaker Wellness Institute help you institute and stick with a personalized exercise program. To learn how we can help, call (866) 944-8253.

Modified from Health & Healing with permission from Healthy Directions, LLC. Copyright 2008. Photocopying, reproduction, or quotation strictly prohibited without written permission from the publisher. To subscribe to Health & Healingclick here.

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