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Staying Healthy: The Importance of Exercise

For the first almost half of this year our first blog/podcast of each month has covered a holistic monograph (our 2021 focus) dealing with family preparation.  For the remainder of the year, we’ve been looking at various ways of staying healthy. I wanted to focus this article on the importance of exercise.

In a previous blog I referred to an article I read in a medical magazine on this topic. It stated that for a person who retires from his active job and decides that he’s “done his part” and is going to just sit down and watch [football] for the rest of his life, his life expectance is only about two (2) years. That may surprise you but remember several of our body systems don’t have pumps to move nutrients along. And notable, the waste disposal systems – the kidney, the bowel, and the lymphatic system – are among them. I call it the “toothpaste effect”. How do you get toothpaste out of the tube? You squeeze it! And how do you get the dead cells out of your lymphatic system? You contract the muscles, which squeeze the lymph nodes and lymphatic tubing to move the waste to the disposal locations. If you don’t move, then neither does the toxic, dead waste your body produces. Is it any wonder the body becomes toxic and diseased?

Now, be assured, I’m not telling you you have to go join a gym and do vigorous, daily workouts. While that may be important to some, I just think of exercise as movement! Regular, active, get-your-heart-pumping movement! One writer said it’s anything that makes your muscles work and makes your body burn calories.” I like that! Just don’t become a “couch potato” and bind yourself to the TV.

While researching this article, I read dozens of resources on the importance of exercise from sources like the Mayo Clinic, the Better Health Channel, Healthline, and many others. Most come to several similar conclusions:

  • It improves your mood and makes you feel happier; reduces stress and anxiety and reduces depression by generating and mobilizing “feel good” hormones.
  • It helps you build and maintain strong muscles and bones. It is great for your skeletal system. Just like plants grow stronger in the wind, your skeleton grows stronger when it is exercised.
  • It reduces fatigue and increases energy levels by moving vital nutrients throughout the body.
  • Obvious to most of us is the fact that burning more calories also helps us to manage our weight and helps us loose weight.
  • One writer quoted “regular exercise has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity, heart health, and body composition, and can decrease blood pressure and cholesterol levels.”
  • Blood and oxygen flow from exercise improves memory and brain function and may slow the aging process.
  • It helps prevent and manage many other health problems, such as Type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, strokes, arthritis and many types of cancers.
  • It can improve sleep quantity and quality, especially for the older folks among us who are prone to many sleep disorders. Let’s face it, a good restful sleep is certainly more forthcoming when we go to bed tired!
  • Several writers noted that it can “put the spark back in your sex life” not only by increasing your energy, but by increasing your confidence about your physical appearance.

And quoting from an article from the Mayo Clinic, “Exercise can be fun … and social! Exercise and physical activity can be enjoyable. They give you a chance to unwind, enjoy the outdoors or simply engage in activities that make you happy.”

How much is enough? I loved my Fitbit and used it for several years. It advocated 250 steps every waking hour as a minimum. Several references stated you needed to get your heart rate to 200 minus your age for 15 minutes each day. The Mayo Clinic article advocated 150 minutes each week of moderate aerobic activity. Most references have suggestions for healthy activity.  Choose one that works for you – one that you will do regularly.  The bottom line is “get up off the couch and MOVE every day.” Find something active that you enjoy and stay at it.  One of my best friends lived to be 95, and she did water aerobics at the “Y” regularly.  It’s not so much WHAT your do, but that you do something – regularly!

–  For more information, contact Naturopathic Doctor Randy Lee, owner of The Health Patch at 1024 S. Douglas Blvd, Midwest City, at 405-736-1030 or e-mail pawpaw@TheHealthPatch.com or visit TheHeathPatch.com.