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Exercise & Endurance

Human existence has changed radically over the last few millennia, centuries, and decades, and one of the most profound changes has been in our relationship to physical activity.  Paleontologists and historical scientists agree that physical activity among humans is at its all-time historical low, and that levels of exertion that we now call “vigorous and frequent exercise” would have been completely normal in the daily lives of our ancestors, who engaged in at least four times more physical activity than their modern-day progeny.  Is it interesting to fathom a time in which physical activity was such a normal part of daily life that there was no word for “exercise”. -Alex Vasquez, DC, ND

The health rewards of exercise extend far beyond its benefit for specific diseases.  Exercise reduces blood clotting, lowers blood pressure, lowers cholesterol, improves glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity, enhances self-image, elevates mood, reduces stress, creates a feeling of well-being, reinforces other positive life-style changes, stimulates creative thinking, increases muscle mass, increases basal metabolic rate, promotes improved sleep, stimulates healthy intestinal function, promotes weight loss, and enhances appearance.  Furthermore, the ability of exercise to restore function to organs, muscles, joints and bones is not shared by drugs or surgery.

We have become a nation of convenience, developing technologies to reduce the amount of time and energy required for the even the most basic of human needs.  While some of these advances have increased our abilities to achieve more, many of them have made much of the “work” obsolete.  We as a species evolved and survived because we are able to be highly physically active, either in finding/harvesting food sources, fleeing predators, seasonal migrations or building shelters.  Not only did this activity allow us to evolve; the human body evolved to best function under this lifestyle.  Our cells, DNA, hormones and neurotransmitters, organs and nervous system all require physical activity to function properly.  We are genetically adapted to live an extremely physically active lifestyle.

At least 30-45 minutes of exercise four days per week is the absolute minimum.  If you have previously been minimally active for many years, you can start slowly with your new exercise program, gradually increasing the duration and intensity.  With the simple addition of regular exercise to your routine, you will have significantly reduced risk for problems such as depression, chronic pain, cancer, heart disease, stroke, hypertension, diabetes, arthritis, osteoporosis, dyslipidemia, obesity, COPD, constipation and other problems.  Furthermore, successful prevention and treatment of health problems with exercise and lifestyle modifications reduces dependency on pharmaceutical drugs. 

Please check with your doctor to discuss the best exercise choices for your current state of health.