Friday, April 27, 2012

The Importance of Exercise

I feel like I'm covering a topic that is already well understood.  We all know that exercise is important and we all need to do some sort of exercise.  However, I think, as with anything else, sometimes it's good to have a little reminder as to why it's so good for us.  (Please see your doctor before starting an exercise program.)

Okay, I can already hear it! What if you hate exercising?  Find something you enjoy doing.  Be intentional and persistent about finding the right formula that helps you tolerate exercise and maybe even enjoy it.  I hate running, but I found the method that works for me.  I have a fantastic running partner, more experienced than myself, and we run trails.  I actually look forward to my running excursions now.  It doesn't have to be running. Brisk walking most definitely counts; it is the exercise of the  most long lived people in the world.  Find anything that gets your body moving and your heart pumping.

Here are some of the benefits of exercise.

It balances mood and helps people be happier.
Have you ever been depressed?  It's awful!  It's like living in a dark cave with stale air.  Outdoor exercise and an alkaline, detoxifying plant based diet should be part of any depression blasting plan.  The endorphins keep me coming back for more.  Any raw foodists who run in my audience?  Have you ever had a runner's high on a raw food diet?  Insanely out of this world!  Better than any drug available without the side effects.  If you are dealing with depression consider Depression -The Way Out by Dr. Neil Nedley, M.D.  He has had tremendous success in helping people overcome depression naturally.

Outside exercise is a good way to get vitamin D.  
People have been so bombarded by falsehoods about sun exposure.  The sun isn't the culprit.  Toxins in your environment and your food choices are what  make you susceptible to skin cancer.  Vitamin D can actually help fight cancer, enhance mood and sleep, and help to ward off depression.  The irony is that most sunblock lotions have chemicals that actually cause cancer.  Get sun in the morning and afternoon and cover up or seek shade during the hottest part of the day.  If you need sunblock, try finding one that has zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. These key ingredients are minerals, not chemicals.  Such lotions are usually available at health food stores.  Dr. Mercola has a natural sunscreen formula that looks great to me.

Exercise helps to prevent cancer and other diseases. 
Good circulation is important for good health.  If you do cardiovascular exercise, your blood is better able to transport nutrients and helps to detoxify every square inch of your body.  Although a clean diet is critically important for good health, even those who do not have a great diet, enjoy better health if they exercise regularly.  The body is better able to boost immunity.  The heart is stronger from regular use and can pump more blood with less work.  The body is better able to produce high density lipoproteins or HDL "good" cholesterol and decrease low density lipoproteins or LDL "bad" cholesterol.

Exercise can help slow down the aging process.
Stress can take a toll and aging is one of the tell tale ways that stress can show upJust take a look at the difference when a new president takes office and when he leaves office.  If you exercise regularly, your body is better able to handle the stress you may be under.  Alzheimer's Disease and senility can be prevented.  The brain is not a separate compartment of the body.  It needs to have good circulation and the ability to detoxify.  It too can form plaque from animal products and processed foods.  Enjoy clarity of mind from a clean, detoxifying plant based diet.  Pump nutrient dense blood to your brain and a host of problems can be prevented.

Exercise helps to strengthen bones.
I'm sure you have heard this.   Strength training is very important to maintain strong healthy bones.  I need to add to this, though, and put in my two cents.  Osteoporosis is not a problem of a lack of calcium from dairy products.  As a matter of fact, dairy products are a contributing factor to osteoporosis.  The real problem is a diet of excess animal protein and consumption of drinks like soda and coffee.  Animal products create a highly acidic environment in the body and in order for the body to neutralize the imbalance, it draws calcium (which is very alkaline) out of the bones.  Here is an article that goes into more detail about this topic.  Here is another  good article about this by Physician's Committee For Responsible Medicine.

Exercise helps to maintain ideal body weight and improve self-esteem. 
Exercise should be an integral part of any weight loss plan.  I am sure that most everyone understands this.  However, including an alkaline plant based diet, eliminating processed foods and eating low on the glycemic index will make weight loss so much easier.  It is the difference between failure and sustained success for the long haul.  Here is an article about the glycemic index if you need more information about that.  It goes without saying: anybody will feel better about their appearance if they are slim and trim.

Types of exercise we should engage in.
Everyone should strive to have some sort of cardiovascular exercise that lasts at least 30 minutes five times per week.  Cross train and vary the types of cardiovascular exercise if you can.  If you can't make it to the gym figure out ways to get your heart pumping, even if it means getting off the bus a stop early or taking the stairs rather than the elevator.  Strength training is very important for bone health.  It also helps tone and shape your body.  I have heard some women say that they would rather not weight train because they do not want to look like men.  You would have to work out very intensely and decidedly before you could even begin to look like some semblance of a man.  Believe me, it doesn't happen easily!  Lastly, be sure to include stretching to avoid injuries.

I'll say it again and again, find exercise you enjoy.  Force yourself to go.  Find a partner who will encourage you.  Get a dog so you are forced to walk it once or twice a day.  Age is not an excuse; older people must also get out and exercise. I feel so blessed that exercise is an absolute pleasure for me.  It is my fix, my drug of choice. I suffered from post partum depression but was able to blast it out of my psyche once I got back to the gym.  I hope my children will catch the bug and experience the pleasure I get out of it.  I hope you will too!

Enjoy the Journey!