Categories: Diet and Nutrition
Sources: How And When To Be Your Own Doctor
Those isolated, long-lived peoples discovered by Weston A. Price had
to do hard physical labor to eat, had to walk briskly up and down
steep terrain to get anywhere. But today, few North Americans output
very much physical energy in process of daily life or work. Not only
cars, but all of our modern conveniences make it possible to live
without ever breaking into a sweat. We pay for this ease; it costs
us a significant degree of health.
Exercise has many benefits when combined with excellent nutrition.
It creates an overall feeling of well-being that can not be created
by diet alone. Exercising temporarily makes the heart beat faster,
increasing blood circulation throughout the body right out to the
tips of your fingers and toes. This short-term elevated flow of
blood flow brings increased supplies of oxygen and nutrients to all
parts of the body, facilitating healing and repair. Without revving
up your engine every day many of the body's systems never get the
sludge burned out of them and never perform optimally.
Exercise also changes the metabolic rate so your body burns more
calories--not only while you are exercising, but also for a 24 hour
period following exercise. This maintains a healthful body weight
into old age, or helps to lose weight. Most people find that
exercise in moderation does not increase appetite, so that it is
possible to consistently burn more calories in a day, and gradually
reduce weight if that is desirable. It is necessary to burn 3,500
calories to lose a pound of weight. Most forms of exercise allow you
to burn 300 to 600 calories per hour at a moderate pace which would
be achieved by doubling the resting pulse. Without even considering
the weight-loss benefit of achieving a raised metabolism, an hour of
daily exercise continued for a week or two dependent upon the type
of exercise and pace should lead to one pound of weight loss if the
caloric intake is held constant.
The flip side of having a higher metabolism is rarely appreciated
but is extremely important. Recall the basic equation of health:
Health = Nutrition / Calories. Exercise permits a person to eat
somewhat more while not gaining weight. If the food is nutrient
rich, the body has a chance to extract more vitamins, more minerals,
more amino acids. The person who remains slender by rigidly reducing
their food intake to near starvation levels may lack vital,
And only exercise moves lymphatic fluid. The blood is pumped through
the body by the heart, but the lymphatic system, lacking a heart,
requires muscular contractions to move from the extremities of the
body to the central cavity. The lymphatic system picks up cellular
waste products and conducts these toxins to disposal. Frequently,
people with rheumatic aches and pains or other generalized muscular
discomforts physicians like to give Latin diagnostic names to can
give up taking pain pills if they will but begin exercising
regularly. Only when they begin moving their lymph can they begin to
There is another benefit from exercise which is not to be ignored,
and that is that it gives the person a chemical sense of well being.
It actually will help to emotionally boost up people who are
chronically depressed and make them smile. After a good workout,
especially one done outside, everything seems brighter, more
positive; whatever was bothering you somehow just doesn't seem like
that big of a deal now. I am not making pro-exercise propaganda.
This is not a figment of the imagination. An exercising body really
does make antidepressant neurochemicals called endorphins, but only
after about 45 minutes to an hour of aerobic workout.
Endorphins are powerful, with painkilling and euphoric effects equal
to or greater than heroin, but without any undesirable side effects.
If chemists could learn to cheaply synthesize endorphins I'm sure
that millions of people would want to become addicted to them.
Because I make such a point of getting in my workout every day, my
husband has accused me of being an endorphin junkie, and he is
right! I admit it, I'm really hooked on the feeling of well being I
consistently get from any sustained exercise. I defend my addiction
staunchly because it is the healthiest addiction I know of.
I have also been accused of carrying exercise to extremes, and I
admit to that also. For a few years I trained for Ironman
triathlons. I now think doing ironman distances is immoderate and
except for a few remarkable individuals with "iron" constitutions,
training that hard can only lead to a form of exhaustion that is not
health promoting. I have become much more sensible in my "old" age,
and in recent years have limited my participation to the Olympic
distance triathlons. I was on the Canadian team at the World
Championship in 1992, and intend to do it again in 1995. I do not
find the Olympic distance exhausting, in fact I think it is great
fun and truly exhilarating. I get to see all these wonderful age
group competitors from all over the world who look and feel
fantastic. It does my soul good to see a group of people aging so
gracefully, not buying into the popular notion that old age is
inevitably disabling, depressing, and ugly. Sport brings a degree of
balance to my life after spending so much time in the presence of
the sick. I plan to maintain my athletic activities into old age,
barring accident or other unforeseen obstacles to fitness.
To maintain basic fitness it does not matter so much what form of
exercise is chosen, as long as it is not damaging to the skeletal
system or connective tissues. Many people are unable to run due to
foot, knee, hip, or back problems, but almost everyone can walk.
Walking outside is better than inside on a treadmill, and walking
hills is better than walking on flat ground. Exercise machines such
as stationary bikes, cross country ski machines, and stair steppers
work well for a lot of people who live in the city, especially in
the winter, or for those who hate exercise. Whatever you choose to
do, it is important to at least double the resting pulse for 30
minutes no less than four days a week. This is the absolute minimum
required to maintain the health and function of the
cardiovascular-pulmonary system. If your resting pulse is 70, you
must walk, jog, ski, bike, swim or what have you, fast enough to
keep the pulse at 140 beats per minute for at least 30 minutes.
I have a strong preference to exercising outside in isolated places
where there is only me and the forest, or only me and the river.
Running along logging roads in the hilly back country, or swimming
in the green unpolluted water of a forest river is a spiritual
experience for me. It is a time to meditate, to commune with nature,
and to clear my mind and create new solutions. The repetitive action
of running or walking or swimming, along with the regular deep
breathing in clean air, with no distractions except what nature
provides is truly health promoting. Sharing these activities with
friends or family can also be great fun and some of the best in
social interactions. It is one of my favorite ways of visiting with
people. I don't expect other people to be as enthusiastic about
exercise as I am, but I do hope that everyone will make an effort to
be minimally fit as an ongoing part of their health program into old