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Daily Exercise Is Critical to Good Health – Or, Is It?

 Daily Exercise Is Critical – Or, Is It?

Daily exercise is critical; but, its place in the hierarchy of a healthy lifestyle has been distorted. In fact, it’s been blown completely out of proportion; and unfortunately, when people think of exercise, the imagination often presents some pretty awful images.

In fact, if you have ever watched the TV show, “The Biggest Loser,” you have seen how they put their contestants through the ringer physically, but food is barely mentioned. Food should never be treated as an afterthought when it comes to health. Nutritious food provides the fuel that builds and sustains your body. Eating good, nutritious food is the most important thing you can do for yourself in terms of being healthy, maintaining a normal weight, and avoiding disease.

You have probably read some of the articles about the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle. Research indicates that people who sit for more than four hours on average per day – often have a higher incidence of cardiovascular disease. The information that seems to be left out of such articles is that many people who sit more than four hours a day are often obese or at least severely overweight because of their diets.

With that in mind, the question must be asked, “What about people who eat healthy, whole-food diets, who are committed to feeding their bodies well; but, also sit a lot – usually as a result of their jobs? The answer is simple – they are not as susceptible to cardiovascular disease, and are much more likely to live longer, healthier lives than the overweight sedentary individuals mentioned earlier. It is the combination (lack of exercise and being overweight as a result of a poor diet) that is the killer.

YES! YES! YES! Moving your body regularly (exercise) is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, but it does not have to be an extreme fitness regimen. It is easy to think of exercise as very hard work that only the young and dedicated can actually accomplish – NOT TRUE!

Image by Photography33
Image by Photography33

All it takes is finding simple, easy ways to move your body for 15 to 20 minutes a day. For example: dance around your living room to three or four of your favorites songs each day, take a 15 minute walk after breakfast, lunch, or dinner (or all three), walk up and down the stairs to your office rather than taking the elevator, walk to the neighborhood grocery store for those few items you forgot – and finally for all of you who sit in front of a computer all day (as I do) – stand up every couple of hours to stretch your legs, arms, neck, and shoulders.  Even better – try a combination of these easy exercises.

These types of simple exercises are easy to do, can be done anywhere, and will help you live a healthier life; but, NEVER FORGET – the most important factor in good health is what you choose to eat on a daily basis. Eat “close to nature” and stay away from fast foods, all processed foods, and foods high in fat, sugar, and salt. 

Do not despair if exercise is difficult for you and you are forced to live a sedentary life (although we do encourage you to get the exercise if you possibly can). If your diet is made up of nutritious, healthy foods (fruits, veggies, whole grains, and an adequate amount of protein), you are doing what is most important for health – even without the exercise. Remember: meat is a condiment and the amount eaten should be limited. This is especially true if you are sedentary.

Moving your body on a daily basis is a wise choice and I encourage you to find some way to make that happen – even if it is simply stretching several times a day.

The bottom line is that instead of thinking of exercise as the cure all and the most critical component of good health, think of it as an important supplement to the benefits of a healthy diet.