#10. Exercise is Medicine

Reasons I love to be fit (cardio-respiratory exercise)

It doesn’t matter where or how fast, just go

You may think that I’m this petite health nut, but i’ve been fighting degenerative osteoarthritis, skin cancer and blood sugar issues since my 20’s. If didn’t exercise as hard as i do at least five days a week i’d already have Type II diabetes, osteoarthritis and with my type A- stress style, probably a heart attack. For me, my #10 reasons to be really fit is that, Exercise is medicine.

How does getting really fit work?

It’s really no more than respiration of your cells. Exertion stimulates the alveoli in our lungs to pick up more oxygen (O2) and transfer it to hemoglobin in red blood cells. O2 circulates through our heart, which pumps it up -and down-stream. In the respiration process glucose and oxygen in working muscles produce energy (ATP), water and carbon dioxide (C6H12O6 and 6O2 ==> Heat + energy + 6H20 + 6 CO2 ). CO2 is exhaled. Water is expired via respiration or sweat to keep us cool. Toxins are also exuded. Hormones like insulin and glycogen which regular your blood sugar are kept in tip top shape. The harder and longer your body works, the more renewal and regrowth occur. Instead of down-regulating or even maintaining a steady state called homeostasis, your body up-regulates to become a better strong you!

Why is working your heart and muscles so important?

“If you don’t use it- you’ll lose it.” Well, it’s not quite that bad, but basically beings that are function at a high capacity maintain the ability to do so and those that don’t are really gradually degenerating. Sure you can shoot to “maintain” but without some degree of challenge, maintaining becomes a slippery slope of downward aging. For instance, without regular and demanding cardio activity excess carbohydrates in your diet day-by- day (chronically) reduces how well insulin works, may burn out your poor pancreas that produces insulin, gradually aids in atherosclerosis leading to a metabolic nightmare requiring shooting up daily with insulin and typically a cocktail or two of mixed statins, blood thinners, and a host of medications to control your blood pressure and ensuing “chronic conditions.”

Is that what you want for the rest of your life? If not, no matter what age, or stage, move more; do cardiorespiratory exercise, or cardio, at least five days or 150 minutes MINIMUM a week.

How?

  • Basics: Just do it!  You know it’s not going to get any easier. Get off the chair or coach, work your heart, leg muscles, and move. Start with three small bouts of walking a day until you can sustain constant movement for at least 30 minutes a day three times a week. Don’t stop there – you’re barely scratching the surface of what you can do.  Next, get functional, do what you need to do in your daily life, e.g., walk up a flight of stairs, walk to/from somewhere. Enjoy!

 

  • Have fun. Playing is good for you! Our body is meant to move in many different ways. What do you like to do: Swimming, biking, hiking, running, playing a game, or dance? No matter what shoot for at least 150 minutes a week (3×50 , 5×30, or any combination), in which your heart rate challenges you to talk and move at the same time (typically, 120-140 heart rates/min). Don’t do the same thing everyday or you’ll get metabolically stagnant; don’t make it too hard or too easy. Personally,i like at least 3 bouts a week of vigorous exercise that really challenges my heart.

 

  • Challenge yourself!  If i don’t challenge myself  to do something new, harder than i’ve done recently, faster or further, i get bored, flat and quickly get jello legs. So, i roust myself periodically with a new challenge. Some times i work on regaining the strength, or endurance, then speed and/or agility of my younger years,  join a team or enter a race, learn a new skill, or (my favorite) plan a vacation that requires a certain level of fitness, e.g., a few days of hiking, skiing, snorkeling or some combination.

To ponder: Is your cardio respiratory workouts (fitness) part of your medicine cabinet? Why or why not?

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One thought on “#10. Exercise is Medicine

  1. I’ve been playing like a kid again. And it hurts as well as exhilarates me. Who cares what people think of a 50 something gramma running fartleks on the sidewalk with her grandson? I race him swimming the butterly stroke in the pool and probably look like a wounded whale, but do I care? Not anymore. It feels so good to get the blood flowing through my aching limbs. Aching from years of sitting idle at a desk. It’s so easy once I take the first step. I have my own personal coach who reminds me the minute I walk through the door after work that it’s time to play “monkey in the middle” so I better hurry up and change. 🙂