Walking is man’s best medicine.” – Hippocrates (Greek Physician 460 BC – 377 BC)
Most talk about health revolves around two concepts: diet and exercise. It basically comes down to a series of inputs and outputs that add up to what kind of shape you are in.
While there are obviously other factors that play into your total health (genetics, environment, etc.) exercise is a big one. For the sake of discussion purposes the word exercise will be used to describe any physical action you perform during the day. In other words, exercise should technically be thought of as work, applying a force over a certain distance.
We literally exercise every day whether we realize it or not. Exercise isn’t simply going to the gym or running around the block a couple times. It is walking down the aisles at the store, and cleaning up your house.
Good health implies that you are are able to do many things adequately well. In old age people often need others to help take care of them, but a person described as healthy will be able to perform the duties of daily living by themselves. And exercise helps enable you to be that healthy person in old age.
Good health is having the strength (power) to do a certain task for the full amount of time needed to complete the task (endurance). And so we have our basic breakdown of the fitness world today: weight training and cardiovascular training.
Many people will become dogmatic in their thoughts about exercise, but ultimately you need to have both power and endurance to accomplish the tasks that life throws your way.
The thing about exercise is that your daily activities contribute to doing those same daily activities better again the next day.
Walking on a daily basis helps you to walk faster and further the next day.
Lifting heavy things on a daily basis helps you to lift heavier things and more things the next day.
Sitting on the couch helps you to sit longer and harder on the couch again the next day.
At the very least, doing what you have always done will give you the results you have always had.
So you have to think a little bit about your current condition and where you want to be in old age. As they say, we aren’t getting any younger. You always have to fight against the degradation of your body.
If you want to be able to walk in old age, it is good to do plenty of walking in your younger years. If you want to be able to pick your grandchildren up and carry them on your shoulders in old age, you should be lifting something at least that heavy on a regular basis. If you want to enjoy the great outdoors and hike the highest mountains in old age, you should do plenty of that when you are younger.
Of course, if all you want to do is sit around and watch tv in your old age, you can do that in your younger years as well.
The idea here is that we should move around a fair amount every day so that we can age well and still be fully or mostly functional in old age.
Some people want to run marathons and some people want to be able to lift hundreds of pounds of iron effortlessly, but most people I imagine just want to be able to function well in their day to day living. They want to be able to get from point A to point B without the use of a wheelchair or walker. They want to be able to cook, clean, and take care of themselves and their homes without too much effort. Sure people have accidents and old age catches up to them sooner than they think, but we know that it is possible to live healthy and well into old age.
We just need to make sure we move a little and lift a little each and every day.
This is our 9th challenge in The Personal Health Challenge Series…