Health and Fitness an Under Rated Commodity

Where did the term health nut come from? When did it become unreasonable to take care of your body without being labeled narcissistic, shallow, in love with ourselves? We are our bodies are we not? Our brains reside within our body and our mind within our brain so why is it accepted to develop our minds and ignore the needs of our bodies as if our body will just automatically be alright no matter how much neglect and abuse it suffers. For centuries we have watched the ones that went before us deteriorate to feeble, weak, shells of themselves suffering all forms of maladies in old age, now granted for most of that time living conditions were primitive and brutal for the majority of people, not having much of a choice in nutrition or opportunities to practice healthy lifestyles while living in ignorance, poverty, subjecting their bodies to backbreaking manual labor just to eke out an existence not a life and most never saw old age, dying in their thirties and forties broken and spent with nothing to show for their suffering. Now for the first time starting in the twentieth century man has the opportunity to take advantage of the advances made to better life, labor saving machines, reduced work hours going from dawn to dark to nine to five, giving us more free time than ever, but with these advances there is also many time wasting technologies. It seems people have no sense of balance, there is only excess, in earlier times excess and overwhelming abuse of the body through forced daily manual labor which took its toll.

Too much work didn’t make Jack a dough boy, it destroyed his body and health, but hard work wasn’t the culprit, it was the lack of down time between the periods of hard work that prevented his body from recovering and rebuilding itself. The body does not improve in health, energy, strength and size during hard physical exertion, this can only take place during periods of rest or light activity, so if the body is driven to exhaustion day in day out for weeks, months, and years on end the body will eventually succumb to injury, disease, and death. This is over training, if you will, taken to an extreme degree, but now we have swung to the opposite extreme, excess leisure or the pursuit of it, pampering ourselves, taking advantage of every labor saving opportunity we can as if physical exertion is a sign of stupidity and a lack of intellect or ingenuity, we pat ourselves on the back for our clever avoidance of exerting ourselves. This mindset has spawned a prevalence of inaction, we see people circling parking lots to park as close to a store as possible as if a walk from the outer parking lots would constitute a breach of their god given right to expend as little effort as possible. People will opt for the elevator than climb one or two flights of stairs, walk instead of run, sit instead of stand, lie down instead of sit and sleep if the opportunity is there. Lazy, there I said it, would our ancestors have done the same given the opportunity? you bet they would. What is this preoccupation with total inactivity being the definitive description of utopia? We know from our forefathers that too much hard work is bad for us. Notice I said( too much) hard work not hard work, because the body was designed for work, even hard work, it just requires periods of inactivity to recover before it is ready again, but we have taken the more is better theory to excess, we reason if rest is good than more rest is better and the more we avoid exerting ourselves is the best. As another saying goes, too much of anything is bad for you, so as bad as working yourself to death with no end in sight is, so is the pursuit of avoiding physical exertion at all costs, the all or nothing mentality. Now instead of watching the ones before us work themselves into an early grave, we watch them gradually deteriorate, getting smaller, weaker, losing their independence and human dignity due to a reluctance to exercise their bodies when they were younger and to keep it up into old age. The excuses, I don’t have time, I have real things to worry about, its too much work, its boring. These are the four biggest reasons given to avoid exercise, lets examine them one at a time. I don’t have time. Are you actively involved every minute of the day every day?

You can’t find thirty minutes two to three times a week? That’s sixty to ninety minutes out of ten thousand and eighty minutes in a seven day week or one to one and a half hours out of one hundred and sixty eight possible hours, now lets subtract fifty six hours for eight hours of sleep for seven days, then subtract forty hours for work in a week, then subtract four hours each day for commuting, family, daily things that need to be done in a week, then subtract four hours each day for leisure, family, and friends, that leaves us with sixteen hours and we only need one to one and a half hours of that time which leaves us with an excess of fourteen and a half hours that we can devote to any of the other areas of our weekly schedule. I have real things to worry about. We all have real things to worry about, but stress without a release is a real killer combined with a bad diet and reluctance to exertion. Instead of fretting and worrying every minute of the day, wouldn’t some of that time be better spent working some of it off? Worrying never solved anything if the problem is out of your hands and if you can fix it do so, but sometimes taking time away from a problem can give us the break we need to see more clearly how to resolve it, that is why some of the most successful people are able to overcome obstacles in their path by means of constructive distractions like exercise. Socrates was right about the belief of a strong body and mind with one contributing to the health of the other to the betterment of both. Sometimes by overcoming a physical obstacle such as being overweight or achieving a strength goal or a more attractive physique can have a carry over effect on the psyche instilling a confidence in one’s ability to change their situation and equate work with positive results. Its too much work. It takes less time and volume than you might think to improve for the better. We are talking about brief, hard work with adequate rest between workouts combined with walking and a healthy diet to round it out. A typical workout would consist of twelve to fifteen total sets in a given workout of thirty to forty five minutes and half that time would be spent resting between sets, so we are talking about twelve to fifteen minutes of actual exercise with a minute of rest between each set, not a bad investment to good health and quality of life into and throughout old age. Its boring. So are most jobs but we do them for far less noble reasons like money, short lived security, food, and shelter which can be taken away at anytime at the whim of our employer. We pour all this energy and time into an activity that only takes our dreams, desires, and lives and pushes family, friends, personal pursuits, health, and fitness to the side leaving us wanting to escape in distraction, recreation and inactivity which if unstructured gives us no sense of control over any aspect of our lives in a positive constructive way that could let us express our selves and have a sense of worthwhile accomplishment. Old age is also very boring when burdened with poor health, limited mobility, shriveled muscles, weakness, low or no energy, taking handfuls of medications from multiple expensive prescriptions that compete in their budget with groceries, trapped in a body they deemed too low on their priorities in younger years to take care of that now no longer works like it should, limiting their quality and enjoyment of life, all these so called effects of old age of which under most cases could have been prevented or substantially reduced by a little exercise and foresight. Most people remind me of the cattle section of a slaughter house, they see what happens to the cow ahead of them yet remain unaffected and even if given the opportunity to avoid the same dire consequences step forward to suffer the same fate. Please don’t be a cow, open your eyes to the fact that old age does not have to go hand in hand with loss of health, mobility, strength, muscle size, energy, and dignity. Refuse the stupid advice to act your age as if you are embarrassing yourself by being strong, fit, energetic, and healthy at an age when most are starting to lose it all and don’t want the fact underscored and don’t want you to go around as an example of what they could have if they weren’t so lazy.

Do yourself possibly the biggest and smartest favor of your life by deciding to take care of your body now to prevent problems usually associated with old age by recognizing they really stem from laziness, inactivity, neglect, and abuse of bad dietary habits, smoking, excessive alcohol, and drug use. You can be fit at any age, its up to you.