Positive health requires a knowledge of mans primary constitution and of the powers of various foods, both those natural and those resulting from human skill. But eating alone is not enough for health. There must be exercise of which the effects must likewise be known. If there is any deficiency in food or exercise, the body will fall sick.
Hippocrates - 5th century BC
Rest is critical to recovery and healing. Adequate sleep is a must. But sitting for long periods when youre well is counterproductive to good health. Our joints and lower back stiffen, circulation is impaired and metabolic waste slowly pools up causing fatigue and chronic pain.
We all do it everyday in trains, planes and automobiles. We sit at school and we sit at work. We sit when we eat, read, watch TV, play video games or when surfing the Net. Sitting has become our national pastime. Whether socializing with friends, cheering for our favorite sports team or waiting for the doctor, our posterior spends too much time parallel to the floor.
Sedentary living adds to our burden of stress. It actually causes morbidity and increases mortality risk. Storing energy without release spawns apathy and accelerates decay. Its best to be a biological conduit. Prolonged inactivity destroys the immune system, robs the body of vital capacity and greatly reduces human motivation. But when you fight the urge to do nothing and move your body, something wonderful happens.
Physical activity ventilates adrenalin and cortisol. Instead of retaining these powerful fight or flight hormones inside, which allows them to oxidize and age your brain, you can direct them into a symphony of motion and vitality. Getting physical keeps you in touch with your inner athlete, that part of you hiding in your DNA. Its there, whether you recognize it or not. Exercise will release it and free you from the seduction of passive living.
If you want to remain lean for life you must follow a program that keeps your basal metabolic rate (BMR) up. Sitting will sabotage your fat-burning potential. Your thyroid will adapt by adjusting your internal thermostat and turn you into a fat-storing machine. So will eating too many carbs. Inactivity also accelerates loss of lean mass and cardiac function. You lose what you do not use. After age 20, youll start losing vibrant, fat-burning, energy-rich muscle. Strength, stamina and bone density decrease as blood pressure, cholesterol and triglycerides increase.
Take a good look at the people around you. Now look at yourself. Does your waistline reflect a long lifeline? Why do adults get heavier as they age and complain of fatigue, chronic pain and stress? Is it because they exercise too much and under eat?
The simple truth is that our bodies are meant to move. Until recently, if you didnt farm, fish, hunt or gather, you didnt eat. You had to expend calories to get calories. Thats balance. Today we can simply order in or drive through. Of course our original diet consisted of organic, unrefined whole food loaded with micronutrients. Thats quality. Now what we call food is chemically produced, genetically modified, highly refined, packed with added salt, sugar and fat and extremely low in micronutrients.
Energy is created through the displacement of energy. Its like love and money. If you never give you will never get. You must put more wood on the fire if you expect more heat. Ever chop wood? Did you know that protein, food partitioning, spicy food and physical activity all raise body heat, which helps to oxidize and burn stored bodyfat? Controlled exercise AND physical activity are necessary to our survival because they are the only means of compensating for living without effort in the 21st Century. They both pave the way to better health and longevity of life through transformation of mind and body.
Part of the problem is that most people do not understand what exercise is. Going for a walk isnt exercise. Neither is golfing, gardening, hiking, dancing or any sport. These are all examples of physical activity, but they are not exercise. Heres the difference and its a major one.
Physical activity refers to any expenditure of energy brought about by bodily movement through the contraction of skeletal muscles. This includes a complete spectrum of activity ranging from very low resting levels to maximal exertion. Exercise is a component of physical activity but its distinguishing characteristic is that its structured progressively in relation to science and organized to develop and maintain total physical fitness for the benefit of health and performance.
Exercise is the means; physical activity is the end. You strengthen and condition your body so you can use your body in freedom according to its natural design. If you dont it falls apart thanks to the law of entropy. When performed correctly and consistently, exercise will give you TOTAL PHYSICAL FITNESS, which cannot occur without resistance training, aerobic conditioning and stretching. No single sport or physical activity provides total physical fitness.
Walking is therapeutic but it will not prevent the atrophy of muscle observed in men and women as they age (sarcopenia). Its also not strenuous enough to release growth hormone or elevate testosterone. Strength training targets every muscle and keeps your anabolic drive alive, but you still need to stretch to retain the flexibility of youth and perform some form of continuous aerobic activity for the sake of your heart, lungs and arteries. Life is in the blood. Thats why nutrition is also important.
The function of exercise is to develop muscle strength, muscle endurance, aerobic capacity and flexibility, the outcome of which, when combined with an optimum diet and dietary supplements, is an ideal body composition, greater tolerance to stress and improved resistance to disease and infection. Fitness is something you can measure. Its recognized as a functional gauge for health and performance. Thats why each and every one of my clients starts with a fitness test. Where there is health there must be evidence of health.
Ever wonder why hockey, baseball and soccer players work out in a gym? Why do athletes at every level supplement their sport with additional training? Why dont they just practice and play the game? Its because they can gain an extra edge by developing more strength, more flexibility and more aerobic power. So can we. Exercise also prevents injuries.
Playing the game itself doesnt build muscle, improve flexibility or enhance aerobic capacity to the same degree that controlled, strenuous training performed in addition to the game can accomplish. In fact, with advancing age coupled with sleep deprivation, dehydration, travel, wear & tear, oxidative damage, pressure to win and playing the game itself, athletes often lose significant size and strength by the end of each season and then try desperately to recoup their losses during the off-season. Professional sport is incredibly stressful.
And its the same for the rest of us engaged in the sport of living. Shopping, carting the kids around and driving to work will not maintain your original form, shape and structure. Even if youre a lumberjack, carpenter or waitress, six months of exercise training in a controlled environment will make you a stronger, more productive worker, guaranteed! Besides, no job no matter how physically demanding, can give you total physical fitness or the balance and symmetry achieved through exercise management. The body can only adapt to the intensity of the work stress imposed, and once it has adapted, it will never go beyond that standard.
So in the same way you eat, sleep, breathe and work, you can make time for something that can raise your performance standards, immune function and appearance to a level not possible without training. And you can do it in 5 hours or less per week. Dont expect to keep your youthful shape without paying the price. Its the year 2000 and the time is now! Take action and listen to the wise words of Hippocrates, the father of Medicine, or you will fall sick.