Exercise is kind of like laughter: it’s one of the few things in life that is free (though yes, you may pay for instruction with the former and entertainment to facilitate the latter), will make you feel better, and has no negative side effects. It’s also something that can be experienced alone, but is always better with a friend or a group. Exercise, like laughter, will pick you up when you’re feeling down. Both are also positive lifestyle traits that can be taught and shared with succeeding generations.
Exercise: it’s vital to your survival. Here’s some life-saving fitness advice.
Exercise has been part of humanity throughout history, albeit in different forms and with perhaps different goals than today. Our ancestors depended on physical fitness for survival: it offered the ability to effectively hunt, fight, or flee, depending on the situation at hand. These days, it’s a common misconception that exercise is a leisure activity or hobby. However, this mentality is not only incorrect, but potentially life-shortening. While exercise may not be as vital for our immediate survival, but it’s just as important for our quality of life and longevity.
Exercise improves your vitality and quality of life. The older you get, the more important these things become! Fitness should be part of a healthy lifestyle from youth through old age. It has been widely proven that increasing lean tissue muscle mass and bone density in your younger years (through exercise) can decrease risks for age related ailments including osteoporosis, loss of muscle mass, and falling related injuries caused by loss of coordination and balance.
Need proof? Check out the results of this study by the International Osteoporosis Foundation. Based on the results, it’s clear that fitness can save (or at least improve) your quality of life!
Exercise like your life depends on it.
It’s true: I believe that fitness can do more than simply improve the quality of your life. I believe that a regular fitness regime can literally save your life. This is something I feel compelled to share, as unfortunately I recently faced the loss of someone close to me, which has served as a powerful reminder of how precious our time is and how we must make the most of it!
My all-time favorite illustration of this concept is the Sickness-Wellness-Fitness Continuumwhich was published by Greg Glassman in the CrossFit Journal back in 2002. In this article, Glassman proposes that if you take any measurable value of health and put it on a continuum, with sickness on one side, and fitness on the other, your exercise/fitness regimen should be one that drives all of those health markers further to the fitness end of the spectrum and away from sickness.
Fitness prevents sickness.
A health-conscious person will pursue fitness as a hedge against sickness. The more you work toward health and fitness, the harder it is to become sick. If and when you do become sick, you’re more likely to recover quickly and return to a state of fitness. On the other hand, if you have poor health markers and are not committed to physical fitness, you’re not only more prone toward illness, but you’ll remain sick longer and will have a more difficult time with recovery. When you look at fitness from this point of view, it becomes far more than just a measure of pounds lost and body fat percentage. It becomes a sum of all of our health markers.
Loss and life lessons.
Last month, I suffered an incredible loss when my older brother Joe died unexpectedly, at the age of 38. A bad case of the flu turned into acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), and he was gone 4 days later.
My brother was not extremely fit, but had more of a “middle of the road” fitness level. His sudden illness was a freak occurrence, and I don’t know if anything could have saved him. While I don’t think that his lack of fitness level was completely responsible for his death, I do believe a higher level of physical fitness could have saved him. As it was, his body was simply not strong enough to fend off an abnormally bad case of influenza.
Within grief, there is gratitude.
The grieving process has been incredibly difficult. But it has also opened up a huge well of gratitude. I’ve been overwhelmed with gratitude for my family, my health, and for friends and loved ones who have shown support. I also feel gratitude for my physical fitness.
This loss has acted as a powerful reminder to never take my health and fitness for granted.
I urge you, too, to appreciate and respect your physical form.
Now is the time to take an honest assessment of your own health, to pinpoint areas where you have room for improvement, and to take action to improve in those areas. Whether it’s cutting out processed foods, sleeping more, finding a gym that works with your busy schedule, adding in a some meditation every morning, or taking a good fish oil supplements, take positive steps toward health. Even the smallest and humblest step toward fitness is one that takes you further from sickness.
Your future self will thank you for taking proactive action toward your own health…hell, it could even save your life.
image courtesy of CrossFit Inc.