Your body is the vehicle that you have been given to enjoy your life in. It is literally what you use to move around in the world. So wouldn’t you want your vehicle to function the very best it can.
Imagine if your body operated like a finely tuned sports car. One that is able to handle the curves of life and one that runs smoothly and powerfully as you cruise through life. But you might be feeling like your body has ended up more like an old clunker. One in which you spend your life worrying about whether it will start up in the morning or even make it out of the driveway.
So which are you? A Maserati? Or a Jalopy?
Sure, the Jalopy can get you from A to B (assuming it isn’t broken down and in the shop, of course). But if you had the choice, wouldn’t you rather cruise around town in a Maserati?
The fact is, you do have the choice. By learning this material, putting it into Action and sticking to it, you can over time turn your Jalopy (if that is what you are riding around in right now) into a finely tuned, beautiful, sleek and sexy Maserati. Even if your body isn’t totally run down like a Jalopy right now, there is always room for improvement. There is always space to trade in and upgrade if you want.
To reemphasize a point I made earlier, your body is NOT a machine. That old metaphor is meant to support the medical model’s mechanistic view of the body. Your body is your vehicle to move through the world to learn, laugh, play, work, experience and enjoy all that life has to offer.
Exercise is so much more than just being just a means to burning calories with the hope of shedding unwanted pounds. If you look at exercise from a broader perspective and get a clearer picture of the benefits you will get out of exercising, you will find the inspiration to get out there and start moving your body. Even more importantly, it will help you find the motivation to keep moving your body everyday so you can continue enjoy all these benefits.
All of the information in the world about HOW to exercise won’t do you any long term good if you don’t first understand your WHY.
It is important to understand why you want to exercise and what you want to get out of it.
You don’t want to be left out sitting on the sidelines, while everyone else gets to do the fun and exciting active things, do you?
You don’t want to miss out on the next beautiful hike on the nature trail with your family on your next vacation because your body hurts and aches too much, do you?
You don’t want to miss out on taking in the gorgeous view of the cityscape because you are too out of shape to climb the staircases when the elevator is out-of-order, do you?
You don’t want to miss out on playing with your kids or your grandkids for as long as you would like too (or as long as they would like you to) because you are too stiff, too sore, too run down and too slow to keep up with them, do you?
Of course you don’t.
If you have missed out on activities like these in the past, then you know how not taking care of your vehicle properly can severely limit your enjoyment of life. A simple, consistent exercise program will allow you to participate in all of these activities and more.
The fact is: your body is designed to move. It is designed to bend, twist, lift, walk and run. It is designed to be USED!
Your body’s health depends on movement. Here is a list of the parts of your body (besides your muscles) that benefit from a consistent exercise program:
Heart and Blood Vessels
Every time you move and contract your muscles, it helps pump the fluids throughout your body. It helps your blood get pumped back to your heart through your veins. Your heart pumps blood out through the arteries to all the parts of your body. The veins bring the blood back to your lungs to get re-oxygenated. Your venous system is a passive system though, which means it needs to use muscle contraction to move your blood through the vessels.
Varicose veins are those dark lines you see on people’s legs (they can be dangerous in rare cases, but mostly they are just unsightly) and they occur in people that are usually standing on their feet for long periods of time, without moving around much. Picture a bank teller, or a grocery store checker or a teacher in front of a classroom standing for hours and hours at work.
The discoloration you see on the skin is actually burst blood vessels. If there isn’t enough muscle contraction, in the form of movement, to help pump the blood from the feet, back up to the heart, eventually, the veins give out, they burst, and you get varicose veins. So every time you exercise, think of how you are helping your heart and your veins.
Your lymphatic fluid is also moved through your body with muscle contraction. The Lymphatic system is part of your Immune system. Lymph is a fluid in your body that contains immune system cells that help fight bacteria and viruses and detoxify your body. But unlike the white blood cells that are moved around your body by the beating of your heart, these immune cells can only do their job if they are moved around your body through exercise, stretching or other forms of physical movement.
One of the great benefits of getting massage regularly is that the massage helps circulate your lymphatic fluid. Then those immune cells can come into contact with any foreign invaders in your body and help keep you healthy. Yoga and light walking do the same thing for your immune system.
Your joints need movement as well to stay healthy. Each of your joints is filled with synovial fluid, which protects and nourishes your cartilage. Your joints need to be moved regularly to pump nutrients into the synovial fluid and to pump wastes out.
Arthritis occurs when the joint is not able to move properly for long periods of time. Besides a traumatic injury or a genetic disorder, arthritis occurs if the joint is immobilized or if it repetitively moves in the wrong way. Inflammation builds up and starts to destroy the very cartilage the synovial fluid is designed to protect.
It is a myth that if you use your joints too much, you will get arthritis. It is true that if you use your joint improperly or if the joint is misaligned and it is used that way too much, you can get arthritis. But don’t think that by not exercising and not using your joints that you are going to save yourself from arthritis. The opposite is actually true.
Spine and Spinal Discs
Your spinal discs and your spine also need movement for the same reason because they have no direct blood supply to nourish them either. If your spine does not move properly, the discs can dry out and become weakened, putting you at risk for degenerative disc disease (arthritis of the spine), disc herniations and other painful conditions.
Even more importantly, your spine is designed to protect your spinal cord and all of the delicate spinal nerves that are the power supply to all of the organs and glands in your body. If your spine deteriorates from lack of proper movement, every function of your body can be compromised.
Your entire body relies on this pumping mechanism for its health. Think of it like squeezing a sponge that is full of water. By squeezing the sponge in your hand, you push the water out. When you relax your hand and allow the sponge to expand, the sponge can absorb new water. Your body uses this process to squeeze wastes out and absorb new nutrients to maintain its health.
Hopefully now you can appreciate how important moving your body and exercising it regularly is for your health. Not just for losing weight and building strong muscles, but for keeping your heart, your arteries and your veins healthy, for keeping your joints and cartilage and spine healthy, as well as keeping your immune system healthy.
*Exerpted from the Being Well Lifestyles Home Study Course by Dr. Jay Warren.
Drawing on over two decades of experience as a hands-on holistic practitioner, Dr. Jay Warren is a primary healthcare provider and licensed chiropractor in the San Diego area. He has spent tens of thousands of clinical hours helping his patients achieve their optimal health potential through holistic approaches bolstered by years of personal experimentation, education and research. Dr. Jay creates customized plans integrating exercise, nutrition and stress management strategies to overcome a myriad of health challenges. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.DrJayWarren.com.