We all know that exercise is important. It is certainly one of the practices that we need to incorporate into your life to ensure that we have a healthy, fulfilling life when the entire world around us seems to be falling apart. Most can recall the increased activity levels of our youth, but we seem to let go of the motivation to “move” as we age. Life gets busy and the gym loses its priority, and after a long day of sedentary work, we just want to relax. So a mental acknowledgment of the importance of exercise gives way to the practicality of daily living. Is that really so bad?
Truthfully, no healthy lifestyle is sustainable without proper exercise. I’m not suggesting that every person need to go spend hours in a gym every day or even that you have a gym membership. But “movement is necessary for health. Let’s look at some reasons.
Of primary importance is the fact that several of our body systems depend on movement to function properly. The circulatory system has the heart at its center – a pump that forces blood through arteries, veins, and capillaries to get nutrients and oxygen to all our cells. But look at three of these systems:
- The respiratory system provides oxygen to the circulatory system for disbursement. But the amount of oxygen we have to send is dependent on how much is in the lungs. Deeper breathing, like that that accompanies exercise, provides the needed oxygen. And the bottom parts of the lungs may fill with fluids if we don’t breathe deeply regularly. Carbon dioxide is toxic and can stay for long periods of time in the lower lungs if we don’t breathe deeply – e.g., exercise!
- Elimination from the digestive system requires movement. There is no digestive “pump”. Movement of nutrients from digestion throughout the digestive systems depends on the peristalsis that comes from muscles pressing against the intestines and colon. Bowel “movements” require movement!
- The lymphatic system is the system that removes dead cells from within the body. It is estimated that the body is made up of some 50-100 trillion cells and about 300 million of them die and are replaced every minute. Those in the digestive tract are generally removed through the digestive tract, but the remainder is removed by the lymphatic system. And it requires muscle contractions to move dead cells through peristalsis. Without exercise, those dead cells just rest and putrefy inside your body contributing to disease.
Most publicity about exercise centers on weight management. You probably know a lot about that already, so I’ll just point out that a pound of body weight equals around 3500 calories. We have machines to measure your metabolic rates. Each person’s rates are different and depend on factors such as current weight, exercise levels, types of foods consumed, and caloric intake. For most people, the rates run around 1200 to 2500 calories burned per day. If you consume more than you burn, you gain weight. Exercise not only burns calories, but it also raises your metabolic rate, making it easier to burn more.
And one writer I read recently stated that “a sedentary lifestyle is the new cancer.” I know of many people who decide to retire from work and then go home, sit down, watch TV, and die within a couple of years. We were created for movement.
Whether you exercise to feel better, to lose weight, to look better, or to help prevent disease, know that it helps in all these lifestyle factors. Get moving!
For more information, contact Naturopathic Doctor Randy Lee, owner of The Health Patch at 1024 S. Douglas Blvd, Midwest City, OK 73130, call 405-736-1030, e-mail [email protected], or visit TheHeathPatch.com.