These folks aren’t just showcasing “an organism’s ability to cope, survive and reproduce in a given environment” (dictionary definition of fitness). They’re showing us our potential for a higher kind of happiness.
Coping with the challenges in our life requires a lot more than physical fitness – it needs love, inner strength, wisdom, and spiritual well-being, too. But fitness carries some very special benefits.
A fit body is the foundation for everything else. It gives us a solid platform of energy and well-being that supports our work, our relationships, and our creativity.
When we stay active, we’re strengthening our heart and blood vessels, normalizing our blood’s fat levels and clotting factors, and lowering our blood pressure. We’re reducing our insulin resistance and inflammation – key risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
The American Heart Association recommends 40 minutes of “moderate to vigorous physical activity,” 3 or 4 times a week.
Did you know that daily aerobic exercise is one of the best treatments for estrogen imbalance and estrogen-based diseases such as endometriosis?
Is there no end to the benefits of exercise?
Lend an ear, ladies – by positively impacting our estrogen metabolism, exercise diminishes premenstrual and menopausal symptoms. How cool is that?
Aerobic exercise reduces visceral (deep body) fat and overall fatty tissue, while strength training at the gym increases lean muscle, which “burns” fat at a higher rate even while we’re resting.
Exercise has powerful effects on our mood – it increases endorphins – the “feel-good” hormones. And it helps prevent the so-called “unavoidable” loss of mental sharpness as we age.
Oh, and by the way, chicas, those estrogen-balancing effects we looked at earlier? As we’ll discover in a future article, the estrogen-regulating effects of exercise can help prevent cancer.
Is there anything exercise that can’t do? The benefits we’ve listed here are just the tip of the iceberg.
Perhaps the best boon of a regular exercise program is the very real gains in quality of life, which are absolutely priceless.
People who exercise save millions in health care dollars. Truly, exercise is the best medicine – and it’s surely the cheapest and most enjoyable.
A friend of hours calculated that by running regularly, he was earning $15 per mile, if it would prevent triple-bypass surgery in his later years. (At 73, he’s still exercising and heart disease-free.)
All right, then – why is it so difficult to get with the program?
The likely answer is that we’re living in a sedentary culture. We work long hours at desk jobs, and it’s just too much effort to carve out time for our bodies.
Speaking for Dr. Marcel and myself, when we’re living our “other life” at our guest house in rural Hawaii, we spend 3-4 hours a day working on our hilly land, hauling, planting, weeding, watering, and building. Exercise is woven into the fabric of our life.
In contrast, in our “California life” we spend up to 10 hours a day sedentarily sitting in our chairs, researching and consulting with clients.
Those long hours on our backsides leave us few hours for the activities that truly sustain us: meditation, healthy meals, good relationships, and social time. Exercise becomes just another chore, an item to be plowed through on our Day-Timer, instead of a deeply enjoyable and meaningful part of our day.
What simple, practical steps can we take to make exercise a relaxing, re-creating part of our lives once again?
When I’m not with patients, I now work at my lovely stand-up desk. And while watching TV, I work out on the exercise bike, or balance on my rebounder.
For social time, I walk and talk with friends with whom I treasure wonderful relationships. I jump rope and play hula hoop for fun. (Okay, no smiling! The hula hoop is my preferred style of “interval training.”)
Think of activities that you can integrate into what you’re doing already. Once you start, you’ll soon be enjoyably addicted. Begin by taking just one simple step. Before you know it, you’ll be logging ten thousand steps a day.
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