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Why I Exercise

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  Learn the best ways to upgrade your fitness and impact your health. You’ll stay up to date as we add episodes to our new Fit For Your Life masterclass.


The masterclass episodes include articles on and training videos at Why I Exercise on YouTube!  


As a bonus for joining us, choose between two free downloads below!  

Training content created by Rob Cowell, PT.

Fitness Calc no bkgd

Health and Fitness Calculators

Calculate your most important fitness metrics all in one place: VO2 max (choose from 4 tests), Waist-Hip Ratio, Waist-Height Ratio, and BMI.  VO2 max age-group charts included for your convenience!

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Intro to back and core strengthening, free e-book!

Intro to Back and Core Strengthening

Retrain deep muscle layers to support your spine.  Compare correct form with common training errors, and follow a step-by-step training progression for back and core strength development.

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Why I Exercise presents:  Fit For Your Life, the masterclass series!

Grip strength: Test and train for lower health risks!                                                         

(New!) Is average grip strength good enough for long-term health? This article describes the advantages of training your grip, showing the age-group strength standards you’ll want to match for better health and well-being. Test & develop your strength effectively using minimal equipment.

Grip strength, Why I Exercise

Aging and exercise: Have we been aging too quickly?

Exercise and inactivity impact the ways our bodies age. With this in mind, how could (or should) we be aging? You’ll see in-depth, research-based scientific analysis of the aging process, plus inspiring examples of healthy aging. 

Why are some seniors so much more active than others?

VO2 Max: A leading health indicator you can test for yourself!

VO2 max (cardio fitness) impacts our performance, our health, and even our survival! Learn how to test yourself accurately with the Rockport 1-Mile Walk, Cooper 12-Minute Run, or Cooper 1.5-Mile Run.  Find out whether you’re fit enough for optimal health and top performance.

VO2 max helps keep you fit later in life.

Metabolic Equivalent: Pick the best exercises for longevity & calorie burn.

Fine tune your lifestyle for a longer life expectancy, using the activities you enjoy.  Create effective training programs from daily life activities, senior-friendly activities, sports, leisure activities, and cardio exercise.

Metabolic Equivalent (MET), compare calories burned walking, running and at rest

Body mass index: Uncovering the truth behind your weight and health.

Learning the health advantages of different sizes and weight groups can help you zero in on what you want for yourself. Take a step toward optimal health with weight goals you can commit to achieving.

Body mass index research helps you set meaningful weight loss goals.

Watch the series on the Why I Exercise YouTube channel!

If you want to upgrade your fitness in ways most likely to impact your future health, Fit For Your Life (from Why I Exercise) is your go-to resource. Measure your fitness metrics and compare them with peer-level scientific standards for optimal health. 

Science shows that every step of improvement makes a difference. With this masterclass series, you’ll have specific, meaningful benchmarks to aim for as you work toward your ultimate fitness goals. I’ve been studying health and fitness literature intensively since 2010. The fitness standards in this series come from the best current and recent research on health and longevity in large populations.

—Rob Cowell, PT

Learn more, Why I exercise author

Online Courses and eBooks from Rob Cowell, PT and Why I Exercise

If you would like more in-depth training in movement and strengthening, I have created several training programs and reference tools for you.   Progressive Core Strengthening teaches you to reprogram your core muscles and guides you through 6 levels of exercise, intro to advanced.  The second edition, including new content, is available as an eBook and as a complete online course with workout videos and instructional videos!  

Depending on your interest and ability level, PCS has also been divided into three parts: The Core Fundamentals, Intro Core Training and Advanced Core Training.  Learn more about these eBooks at the eBook store and the online courses at this resources page.   Version one of PCS is still available in a bundle with my book, Correct Posture, which shows you dozens of specific exercises that make it much easier to sit, stand and bend with good back alignment.  Several of the routines from each book are also available separately.  

Additional resources from Why I Exercise

Home exercise programs

Proper movement patterns are the key to preventing injury and developing your strength and fitness.  You can visualize and achieve good form during your workout by matching what you see in my lifelike exercise illustrations.  The illustrated routines help you strengthen your lower back, knees and shoulders and improve mobility throughout your body.   To speed up your learning process, I included a number of 1 minute exercise videos in the workout articles.  Seeing the exercises in motion will help you master the movement patterns more easily.  Instructions at key transition points will help you understand the exercise movements. 

Physical fitness tests

Research has established the level of fitness and the amount of weekly exercise you need for a longer, healthier life.   Find out whether you're fit enough to be healthy by taking my recommended physical fitness tests.  The articles will show you the proven advantages of improving your strength, endurance and body composition.    This entire website is dedicated to showing you what it takes to develop your conditioning, and you’ll have a great starting point when you find out your strengths and weaknesses with these tests.

Physical therapy exercises

Do you need to ease into your fitness routine because of weak muscles or stiff joints?  Physical therapy exercises can help you prevent pain and injury.  These routines take the stress off of overworked muscles and joints by strengthening and stretching supporting muscle groups.  Exercises like these can make everyday activities such as reaching overhead, working at your desk, squatting, or climbing stairs feel much easier. 

Weight loss and exercise motivation

2/3 of US adults are obese or overweight, and 31% are not physically active at all.  How is it that we aren't more fit and healthy?  We have access to trainers & gyms, technology and more information about exercise than ever before.   Why aren’t popular weight loss and fitness tips working as they should?   Get some helpful tips and ideas to overcome your busy schedule and put consistent effort toward the great looking, strong, fit body that you want and need.

Why I Exercise:  How are aging and exercise related?

How is it that some people keep up with the sports and activities they enjoy, while others reach a point where they can't move the way they used to?  According to studies with normative data by age group, muscle endurance and balance are lost most rapidly with aging, followed by power, cardio fitness and maximum strength.  How much of this decline is unavoidable, and how much is due to lack of exercise? 

cardio fitness comparison in men, fit vs. out of shape, ages 17 to 85

Learn more with this article or on our YouTube channel!

aging decline, comparing balance, muscle endurance, cardio fitness, maximum strength

Looking closely at cardio fitness data by age group, we see that active and athletic people in their 40s, 50s, and 60s have similar conditioning as young adults, and it's possible to maintain this youth-like advantage through the retirement years. 

A fit teen has the same conditioning as an athlete in his 50s. A fit 55-year-old is better than an average 35-year-old. An out-of-shape 55-year-old is not quite as fit as an average 65-year-old or a fit 75-year-old.

The most profound observation from the decline that comes with aging is that people who stay active have a considerable advantage over their out-of-shape peers.

Why I exercise: The medical, financial and societal implications of our collective inactivity

Globally, the US spends by far the most on health care.  Patients are fortunate to have access to the latest technology in medicine and some of the best trained doctors on earth.  But according to WHO (and the CIA), US life expectancy for 2012 is just 79 years.  The US is tied in life expectancy with countries like Costa Rica that spend far less on their health care.  With US health care spending at over $3 Trillion per year, the highest in the world by far, shouldn’t people have a longer healthy life expectancy than 69 years?  

Preventable chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes are most responsible for the health problem in the US.   The vast majority of US health care spending goes toward treatment of conditions which could be prevented with simple measures such as 30 minutes of moderate exercise per day.  Supported by extensive research, the Mayo Clinic lists regular exercise as a top prevention tip for heart disease, diabetes and cancer, but yet again, 31% of US adults report no leisure time physical activity whatsoever.  

Our lifestyles have changed over the past several decades.   For many people today, physical activity isn’t necessary, it must be chosen.   Most jobs don’t require walking, much less actual physical labor.  Food is more plentiful than ever and easily accessed.  Many leisure time activities involve sitting and being entertained.  Fast food, processed food and sugar laden beverages remain a regular part of our diet.  Average TV, phone and computer screen time easily exceeds 40 hours per week.   It’s no wonder obesity, diabetes and heart disease have become so common in recent years.

The pharmaceutical industry helps us hold off the lethal symptoms of chronic disease, but once a person becomes dependent on drugs to survive, he or she will have seen a significant drop off in their quality of life.  Instant access to seemingly unlimited food, entertainment and information has come at the cost of our physical well being.  In this modern world, we need reasons to exercise.  Choose daily physical activity so you can have better health, a longer life and the chance for more success in your journey. 

Ready to begin?

Find out how your health and fitness compares to your peers with several well researched physical fitness tests. Using the tools on this site, you’ll have a complete fitness profile that you can use to track your progress in the weeks ahead. Your results are analyzed to show how much you need to improve to lower your risk of serious health concerns, which is great for setting goals.