“I have someone that does that for me”.
Ed McMahon used to use this statement occasionally on the “Johnny Carson tonight show”. It usually brought a laugh from the audience.
Why should we exercise?
We are mobile creatures. We are designed to move. Our feet give us away. Our foot is a lever pulled on by our calf muscles to propel us along at fast or slow speeds. At slow speeds like 2 miles an hour or slower, we require very little fuel to continue. We are very efficient walking, trotting and running machines.
Exercise speeds up our metabolism and burns calories. We burn 100 calories per mile when walking, so it is an essential part of a weight loss program. The reason most diet victories turn into defeat is because the person did not continue the exercise part.
In the book “Spark” by John Ratey, he talks about a small jelly fish-like creature called a sea squirt. When born, it has a very small brain and has to quickly move to its permanent coral home and set down roots. If it does not do so, it will die in about an hour. After it becomes permanently in place, it eats its own brain. The point is that if we do not exercise, we do not need a brain. We now see why the TV has the nickname of the “rotter”. The brain and exercise go together.
We as a nation would seem to be going in the opposite direction. Let’s just name a few trends that are worrisome:
- The popularity of passive entertainment – flat screens, cable channels – reclining chairs
- The increasing time spent sitting and using computers.
- The increasing time spent sitting in our cars
- Discontinuation of PE programs in spite of the data in Ratey’s book that documents its benefits in kids ability to learn and control themselves.
- Inability for the armed services to find physically qualified males suitable for induction.
So exercise is what we were, not what we are. We took over the world from other creatures because we were shakers and movers. Each of us needs to understand the value of exercise and insert it into our daily lives. If we fail in this regard, our bones become weak, our muscles become flabby, our brains malfunction, and we develop our dreaded enemy – arteriosclerosis, the number one killer of both men and women.
What kind of exercise is best?
There is no simple answer. The best exercise is the one you will do day after day. A person that walks with friends 7 days a week for 2 hours a day is about as good as it gets.
A person that does a different exercise, like yoga one day and runs the next day and then swims, bikes and skis the rest of the week is using different muscles than the walker but my money is on the walker who will be excercising 30 years down the road.
Biking has a few advantages in that it is a smooth activity and does not cause stress fractures. Food and water can be carried on board and the rides can be extended out beyond 6 hours if time is available. This prolonged exercising can move fitness to a whole new level. Many people use bikes to get to work every day and that may be the only exercise they need. Danger from cars needs to be considered in your choice. Bike helmets may not look sheik but save thousands of lives. One little fall, hitting your unprotected head on the road will end your life or alter it in a bad way forever. Always wear a helmet.
Swimming is an excellent exercise and you do not need a helmet. In groups of walkers, bikers and swimmers – swimmers lost the least weight. The avid swimmers I have known have been very fit, strong with no excess body fat, but that is anecdotal.
Here is a link that gives insight to the controversy: http://www.tinajuanfitness.info/articles/art041800.html
Tennis? Because of the breaks, during the games, tennis is not considered as good an exercise as those mentioned above.
Golf. Don’t laugh. This is an excellent source of exercise, but only if you carry or pull your golf bag. When I become king, I will make riding in a golf cart a capital offence. Walking 18 holes of golf covers 6 miles and burns 1300 calories. With just eating maintenance calories, one can lose two pounds a week playing golf every day. The only problem is that you will become unemployed and single but will look great.
Aerobics – jazzercise – Tai boe – judo – gumba. These carry the advantage of improving flexibility as well as burning calories. They are usually one hour sessions and most successful weight loss programs go longer that one hour. They require going to a gym and changing clothes. Often friendships are made in the groups that will keep up your interest and attendance down the road.
Yoga. Yoga is good with other exercises to maintain flexibility. The relaxation and mental control are appealing.
You see articles about how even a little exercise is helpful in preventing cardiovascular problems. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jerry_Morris
I once treated a patient about 70 years old with a broken hip. He had fallen from a ladder. He was a retired railroad worker. His job had been to walk for 10 hours a day. The other job that was available was to sit for 10 hours a day. There was no crossover. I asked him if he ever got together with his retired chums. He said they stayed close. I asked how many of the sitters were still alive? He said, “Doc, they are all dead”. I then asked, “How many of the walkers are dead?” He said, “Doc, they are all alive”. Be a walker, not a sitter.
Cardiovascular health is not the only benefit of exercise. Many people take to exercising because it just makes them feel better. This is brought out and analyzed in the book “Spark” by Dr. Ratey. He documents the mental health side of exercising. Stress, anxiety and depression are helped with significant exercise. Most of us have already noted this. The benefits with ADD were news to me. He also documents a fascinating PE program in Illinois where the kids are exercised before classes start each day. They recommend exercising for 30 to 40 minutes at 60 to 70 percent of maximum predicted heart rate. Maximum heart rate is 220 minus your age. They use heart rate monitors to see if the kids are putting out or “dogging” it. (no offence, Casey) So what’s the big deal about an advanced PE program? These kids learn better, test higher, and have less disciplinary problems that other schools. Oh, did I fail to mention that they have almost no obesity issues? Naperville 203 (8th grade) took the TIMSS test against the world and took first in science and 6th in math. These are kids from middle income families and the only difference is they are generally fit and get some serious exercise before school starts. Exercise does seem to make the brain grow fonder to learning.
Cancer risks: Various cancers are less prevalent in exercisers. The benefits usually present with lighter exercise but grow as the intensity of the exercise increases. When you see a dose, effect relationship that means the relationship is not casual. So colon cancer is the most studied, but breast, endometrial, lung and prostrate are also linked. This is a good synopsis of the data: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/prevention/physicalactivity
Can you exercise too much? You certainly can. When training takes over your life and affects your job and family then back off. You can deplete your cortisone production and become anemic as well. I think most visitors need not worry about overtraining. Here is a reasonable link on it just in case. http://men.webmd.com/guide/exercise-addiction
I’ve tried here to make a case for doing some exercise for the rest of your life. If you have not exercised at all for the past year, you may need to get a physical checkup before proceeding. This would pertain to those over 40. At least go slowly at first. If you are dead set against exercise then I doubt you will have success with the Thindex program. Our plan with the 9 steps to health is to begin with the exercise part and proceed on to the diet.
Let’s look at an example of what we are talking about. I went on a cruise to France, Portugal and Spain last summer. Cruises are mostly for old people like myself. I’ll show a few pictures and a video to make my point.
Until the next time. Joe