Foraging through the woods, with their endless walking, our nomadic ancestors genetically and anatomically set the blueprint for future generations. Not until we humans began to become sedentary, did we begin to limit total body use. Farming, in and of itself, offered the full spectrum of aerobic and weight-lifting exercise that is prerequisite to health.
As the industrial revolution sprouted in the 19th century, most people began to migrate to cities and cubical residences that dramatically, for the first time, limited the use of our anatomy. Abnormal standing, sitting, leaning and resting increased due to our obligatory work. By the mid-20th century, the commonly shared outdoor activities began to be challenged by the newly created television. Before we knew it, we were watching professional sport teams rather than actively participating in sports. Within one generation, the term “couch potato” was created. In the developing world, people’s addiction to the boob tube far outweighs quality time spent with family and friends.
Why exercise when I can watch professional athletes do it in high-def? On and off, ambitious people, for at least a short period, plug in an exercise DVD in their living room and bounce around until they get exhausted. This group, of course, is very small, generally lacking commitment. As we view the box with its illustrious and tempting ads, they seduce us to eat more nutritionally void foods to fill the gaping holes left behind from the lack of personal fulfillment. What a dilemma it has become — lack of body use and excessive weight gain have paralyzed the population, including the youth among us.
Computer technology presents us with an even greater concern as now we have trained two generations to “virtually participate” rather than become physically active. A recent international study reported what has been well-established in the past: “Less than 5% of the population exercise adequately.” This fact concerns not only people’s waistlines, but also directly affects their emotions, biochemistry, immune systems and rate of aging. During the last half-century, one scientific study after another confirms the essentiality of aerobic and weight-bearing exercise. In my work here at Hippocrates Wellness, we have concretely established that aerobic exercise, consistently conducted in a proper way, and, as an added benefit, while inhaling oxygen, will dynamically and dramatically increase the pace of recovery. Every disease known to man can be successfully battled by increasing circulation, body temperature and added oxygen. Resistance exercise not only forms a healthy, functional muscular structure, but also solidifies and strengthens the skeletal system. In both cases, the positive effects are numerous, mental functionality being foremost. We and other researchers have noted increased positivity and less procrastination in participants of both weight-lifting and aerobic programs. Needless to say, self-esteem inherently increases due to the comfort and ease of a better-looking and more functional anatomy. Sexual vitality and improved libido is also gained when one is faithful to movement and development.
Every person whose body you admire most certainly is a faithful exerciser. Today we must assert effort and, without fail, schedule time during our busy lives to indulge in this exceptional activity. As previously mentioned, we are among the generations presented with a choice — whether or not to use and build our bodies. A century ago, mere existence required ongoing body use. Each morning when people rose, the first question in their mind was, “Am I going to starve or am I going to farm?” Of course, the latter was what the masses chose and this life-saving act alone assured a user-friendly body.
When I first turned to a healthy lifestyle, the one gaping hole that was missing was the exercise component. Although it was challenging to give up my consumption of animal based and processed foods, little did I know that the adoption of practices to stimulate and build my body presented an even higher mountain to climb. That challenge from decades ago was an intrinsic part of my return to good health. Once this was foundationally part of my awareness, I began employing these body-strengthening processes with the people who I counsel. Time and again, they have reported that the central reason for their recovery and the maintenance of superior health has been the exercise component. Colleagues like Dr. Kenneth Cooper (Cooper Center, Dallas, Texas) have dedicated their entire lives to the science of anatomy. Without fail, these experts have established the premise of exercise as a therapy. Needless to say, one cannot become healthy or maintain pinnacle well-being without employing stretching, exhilarating movement, and muscle-building techniques. Our chemistry and anatomy depend upon these vital processes.
Ninety-five percent of our population has failed in affording their bodies proper exercise. The overwhelming majority of us must put down the TV remotes or computer mice, get off our butts and start becoming active immediately. As gruesome as it may be in the first days and weeks, soon to come will be the expectation, joy, and fulfillment of an enhanced attitude and improved body. We will all reach our goals in a personalized way, with considerations for age, health condition and willingness. “Slow but sure” is better than “no pain, no gain.”
We do not want to become discouraged by trying to achieve Olympic status in a week. Professional trainers, many well-educated, are powerful partners in the pursuit of fruitful training schedules. I personally wasted many years before somebody with compassion said, “I will spend the time to train you since I have observed that you are wasting most of your time here at the gym.” When dealing with unwanted body fat, overweight people will be pleased to know that fat can be converted to muscle via weight-lifting methods. Thin people will also be pleased to find that they can use the same methods to gain their wanted weight, without sacrificing health, by building muscle.
So that there is no question about anything discussed in this article, I will end with the four Golden Rules of Well-Being:
1. Become limitless in your pursuit of excellent health.
2. Always do the right thing, not the easy one.
3. Acknowledge and maintain the successes that were reaped from your unwavering effort.
4. Enjoy life with all of its nuances and beauty forever.
By Brian Clement PhD, LN