Most businesspeople are usually very busy. After all, making money is no easy matter.

They put in many hours of stressful work and have little time for relaxing activities. Furthermore, these days most people, especially businesspeople, are sedentary.

Because most places of work are thoroughly computerized, executives are stuck at their desks.

And the Internet allows more and more people to work from home, which means there is no need to get out and go to the office.

Humanity is experiencing one of the most exciting periods in its long history. The rate of change is unprecedented. This would perhaps suggest a high degree of mobility, but such is not the case.

There are many new technological developments, but these technologies do not activate the body.

On the contrary. They make life easier and reduce chores, thus making us less active than we ever have been.

One of the ways to combat this trend is by doing exercise. The question is how to combine physical activity with a busy schedule. But busy schedules are the source of the problem.

In the past, being busy meant being physically active. Today, it means sitting behind a desk.

Businesspeople spend most of their time glued to their desks, with their eyes fixed on their computer screen. From time to time they may meet with other businesspeople to negotiate or discuss business affairs, but nowadays most business activity can be accomplished by e-mail, by phone or by video conferencing.

This makes for more efficient use of time, but it plays havoc with one’s physical condition.

By nature, the body is designed to be mobile, not sedentary. Legs are meant for walking or running, not to remain folded under an office chair. Arms are meant to carry things, to work with, not just to punch computer keys.

As a result of physical inactivity, one puts on weight, which is neither healthy nor aesthetic and, in many cases, makes people feel sluggish.

So what should people do if they want to lead a healthy lifestyle, keep fit and feel good? The best way to keep fit is to do physical exercise at a fitness center or in one’s home or office.

The fitness center industry in Israel is highly developed and caters to all needs and most pockets.

In this country, there are an estimated 2,500 places that offer physical training services and facilities.

These include fully fledged gyms or fitness centers, hotels, country clubs, community centers and the like.

But maintaining an exercise regime is no easy matter.

Yaron Sela, general manager of the Great Shape chain of fitness centers, says, “Exercising on a regular basis makes people look better and feel better. In these times when the average person remains physically inactive for most of the day and the pressures of daily life become increasingly stressful, exercising on a daily basis is a way to compensate the body for inactivity, which is unnatural to the body and is thereby harmful to one’s health. It is also a means of relaxing from the stresses of the workplace. The mounting stresses of daily life can literally drive one crazy. In a gym, one can relax in a clublike atmosphere, while the physical activity can prevent many hypokinetic related illnesses, especially those related to heart disease.”

A fitness center can usually make a person look and feel fit again. However, despite the advantages of regular exercise sessions, there is a very high drop-out rate. The turnover in fitness centers is more than 60 percent. Many people may want to look better but are not so willing to make the effort it takes to do that. This means that 60% do not renew their membership, at least not in the original fitness center. The membership numbers are more or less constant, but people tend to go from one fitness institute to another.

Amir Elbaz, head of exercise programs at the Go Active fitness centers, says, “There is a high turnover at fitness centers because people get tired of exercising or because they think it is too expensive. This happens a lot when people exercise alone. I therefore advise exercising in a group under an instructor. The drop-out rate decreases in these circumstances because it gives better results.

Attrition decreases when (1) members see physical results -- they look slimmer and more toned; (2) when a positive relationship has been created with the trainer; and (3) when a social relationship has been created with other members, especially in training as a team. At Go Active, we try to create an atmosphere that will foster the necessary relationship between staff and members and among the members themselves.”

While exercise is important, people should find out if they are taking in too many or too few calories.

Calories are taken in by eating and are burnt off by doing physical exercise. Even breathing burns calories. Each excess of 7,000 calories produces one kilogram of fat. Each deficit of 7,000 calories burns one kilo of fat.

At a professional fitness facility, one can obtain expert advice on calorie consumption and expenditure and adapt one’s exercise program accordingly. Energy expenditure, or basic metabolic rate, decreases with age, which means it is harder to burn calories. Therefore, one should either reduce one’s caloric intake or increase physical activity.

Exercising on your own

Many people don’t have the time to go to a fitness center, so the alternative is to exercise in the privacy of one’s home or office.

At these hectic times, hi-tech personnel and top and middle-level executives put in many hours of work. They are glued to their desks or to their computers 10 and sometimes 12 hours a day or more. Consequently, taking a break to stay fit may pose somewhat of a problem.

Some large places of work that believe that a fit worker is a good and efficient worker have their own in-house gym or health center. In a small workplace, there are no such facilities but some executives bring their own equipment to keep fit.

One of the main problems with these individual operations is consistency and knowing what to do and how to exercise.

The ideal situation is to hire a personal trainer, but that can be very costly. The second best is to get help either written or through the Internet and a TV screen.

Holmes Place Israel fitness clubs have developed a program called 2 GO, which helps those who want to exercise on their own. It is based on a computer program developed with the help of the Clalit health fund and is based on a similar program that has been operating in the UK for a number of years.

The program includes measuring devices that monitor the exercises one does, a list of exercises adapted to the needs of the individual and a list of recommended foods to eat.

Tamar Stein-Kassman, a local fitness expert, says, “Exercising at home or in one’s office or alone on the beach is a good idea; but for it to be effective, a strong will is necessary.”

Exercising in the office (Yossi Aloni)

She says that people who say they don’t have time are just making excuses. If they really wanted to exercise, they would find the time because time is a matter of priorities.

There are many exercises to help keep the body fit, and each individual should choose doing what he or she enjoys most, such as swimming, jogging, weight training, zumba or aerobics.

Exercising should be an enjoyable and rewarding experience. If it is, people will want to continue. If it isn’t, they won’t.

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