People who have struggled for years with various health challenges have learned in the past year that they are at a higher risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19. Although all who are exposed to the coronavirus may become infected, those who have pre-existing conditions may be placed in its “crosshairs”. This should serve as a wake-up call that now, more than ever, shoring up your health is vitally important.
One of the most powerful and effective ways to increase your overall healthfulness is through regular exercise. The late Dr. Agatha Thrash, who was a pathologist and preventive medicine specialist, once said, “Exercise is so important that if I could present only one health topic, it would probably be on exercise.” Dr. Thrash further stated that, “As exercise is increased, degenerative diseases of all kinds are decreased, lifespan is extended, various minor infections such as colds are reduced, and perhaps best of all, the quality of life is significantly enhanced.”
Made to Move
When we gain a little understanding of the human body, it becomes apparent that exercise is necessary for good health. In fact, Scripture informs us that the first humans were placed in a garden; and they were to work in that garden. This means humans were made to move—to exercise. Unfortunately, many modern lifestyle practices negate or minimize the need for regular exercise. As a result, many degenerative diseases continue to run rampant, in spite of advances in medical science. A sedentary lifestyle has become too much of the norm for many. Most people spend the majority of their time sitting down and it continues to take a serious toll on their health. A nineteenth century health reformer once stated that, “more people rust out than wear out”. Things have only gotten worse in the twenty-first century with “laziness” chairs and “demote” controls. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) website states that, “Lack of physical activity can lead to more visits to the doctor, more hospitalizations, and more use of medicines for a variety of illnesses.”
What! That's exactly what you don’t want. If lack of exercise will get you more trips to the hospital, more doctor visits, and taking more medication, its time for a new plan. A plan that supports a healthier lifestyle is the best option for overall well-being and increasing longevity. And to be truly effective, that plan must include regular exercise. Let’s consider just a few far-reaching benefits of exercise:
Some Specific Benefits
- Reduces Risk of Chronic Disease – Regular exercise has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity, cardiovascular fitness and body composition and decrease blood pressure and blood fat levels.
- Weight Management – It is well known that well-balanced, nutritious meals and regular physical activity are crucial to better weight management.
- Strengthen Bones and Muscles – There’s an old saying, “If you don’t use it, you lose it.” As you age, your body becomes weaker if you don’t demand more of it. Regular physical activity puts a demand on the bones and muscles and strengthens them. Physical activity may also help to reduce pain and increase coordination and balance.
- Mood Enhancement – Exercise has been called the most powerful, natural antidepressant known to man. It has been shown to not only improve your mood, but also decrease feelings of depression, anxiety, and stress.
- Increases Energy – Exercise is an energy booster and has been shown to reduce feelings of fatigue.
Types of Exercise
Perhaps you already know that exercise would be good for you, but you weren’t sure where to start or what type of exercise would be best for you. There may be some people who think a gym membership or expensive home equipment is the best way to get exercise. Neither of these options however, is necessary to get beneficial physical activity to improve your health. What is needed is a resolute will to maintain a physically active life. Let’s consider some types of exercise that will help you move towards more wellness.
- Cardiovascular Exercises are a great overall body workout—strengthening heart, lungs, muscles, and bones and may include activities such as, brisk walking, cycling, swimming, jogging and running. It is recommended to get at least 150 minutes a week of this type of exercise to gain optimal benefit.
- Strength Building Exercises focus on strengthening muscles and bones, and may help to lower risk of osteoporosis and other degenerative conditions. Activities in this category may include body-weight exercises (example: pushups, squats, or pull-ups), resistance bands, and weight lifting. It is recommended to include some sort of strength building activity 2 to 3 a week in your exercise regime.
- Flexibility Exercises include various stretching exercises, which can help keep you limber, increase coordination and reduce some aches and pains.
- Useful Labor is physically demanding work that accomplishes important tasks which can also serve as exercise. Activities such as gardening, raking leaves, or chopping wood are included in this category of exercise. It is recommended to include a brisk walk at least 2 to 3 times a week if useful labor is your preferred physical activity.
If you desire a greater sense of physical and mental well-being, getting regular exercise is a powerful way to help you achieve those goal. Whatever form of exercise you choose, it’s best to be scheduled and consistent. It is also optimal to exercise outside in the fresh air and sunshine as much as possible. There are health upgrades that are waiting your demand. Why not get moving, and begin claiming them today?
Photo by: Anna Shvets