OUR modern culture has brought us many labor-saving devices; and while these greatly assist us in accomplishing much more in far less time, they have also gone a great way in limiting our exercise. This has tended to lead not only to obesity, but to a dramatic decrease in physical fitness and an increase in diseases associated with a sedentary lifestyle. The human body, unlike most machines, does not wear out with use but actually improves and increases in efficiency with regular exercise. Every part of our living machine is made for action; and it is a law of life that activity leads to life, while inactivity tends to death. More people die for want of exercise than from excessive exercise, yet many people ignore this basic law of life. Many more rust out than wear out.
Exercise equalizes the circulation, vitalizes the blood, helps the body expel impurities, improves the body tone, aids digestion, relieves nervousness, prevents disease, improves the function of the kidneys and liver, keeps the lungs in good condition, and tones up the muscles. Exercise is one of nature's best remedies. There are very few maladies that will not respond favorably to exercise.
Many people find themselves so busy that they just do not have time to exercise; but it is an absolute certainty that if you do not find time to exercise, you will take time to be sick. Whatever our business or interest in life, it is important that we make up our minds to exercise in the open air as much as possible. The disposition to avoid exercise is a sure sign that health has a very low priority in the life.
Conditions Your Blood Vessels
When a person is at rest, his need for oxygen to burn food for energy is low and it is not easy to tell whether or not he is in good physical condition; but as soon as he starts to exercise, the story is out in a hurry. The heart and blood vessels of the physically fit adjust readily to carry a larger flow of blood during increased activity. The arteries of the poorly conditioned person cannot quickly meet a rising demand because they cannot immediately stretch beyond their accustomed limits to meet a sudden increased requirement. Because his circulation cannot meet the increased demand for more oxygen, he very quickly becomes short of breath and has to slow or stop his activity.
The blood is pumped from the heart to the aorta and from there to various parts of the body through the other arteries. Immediately after each contraction, the heart relaxes. Instantly, the valve between the heart and the great artery snaps shut to keep the blood from rushing back into the heart, trapping approximately two ounces of blood in the aorta. The aorta then contracts, forcing the blood out to the rest of the body, making room for the next two ounces of blood that the heart will be pushing out in a second or less. The walls of the aorta squeeze together, much like a rebounding rubber band. Should you exercise strenuously, your pulse may rise to a rate of as high as 150. At this point, your heart is shooting out these "balls" of blood at a rate of 150 a minute. Each time the artery stretches to make room for the incoming blood and then contracts to squeeze the blood down the arterial tree with tremendous speed.
Helps Your Heart
The pulse that you feel in your wrist is the shock wave of those ejections of blood. The actual flow occurs as each segment of artery stretches and contracts to move the blood along. This surge of blood through the network of blood vessels is helped along on its return trip through the veins by the contracting and relaxing of exercising muscles. As the muscles contract, they squeeze the blood vessels that are embedded in their tissues and force the blood onward toward the heart for recycling. Valves in the veins prevent it from backing up.
At rest, only about 20 percent of the total blood flow goes to the voluntary muscles which make up half the body weight. During heavy exercise, the volume of blood to the voluntary muscles increases to 80-90 percent. A large portion of the work of circulating the blood is done by the large leg muscles when you walk. It is not surprising, therefore, that walking is one of the best exercises. It is also well to note that it is one of the easiest programs to maintain.
Inactivity Brings Illness
"Inactivity is a fruitful cause of disease. Exercise quickens and equalizes the circulation of the blood, but in idleness, the blood does not circulate freely and the changes in it, so necessary to life and health, do not take place. The skin, too, becomes inactive. Impurities are not expelled as they would be if the circulation had been quickened by vigorous exercise, the skin kept in a healthy condition, and the lungs fed with plenty of pure, fresh air. This state of the system throws a double burden on the excretory organs, and disease is the result." Ministry of Healing, 238
To be of real benefit, exercise must be vigorous enough to place a tax on your system. It must also be of sufficient duration if it is to have an appreciable benefit. Generally, exercise that lasts less than 20 minutes will be of little or no lasting value.
When a person goes too long without exercise, the muscles in the artery walls have wasted away from a lack of exercise and the walls are thin. In order to assure that the walls do not break, the body lays down a lining of fatty material. Unfortunately, this fatty material that strengthens the weakening wall also takes away the natural ability of the artery to expand, greatly restricting the flow of blood. This condition of hard arteries with small openings is known as atherosclerosis. When this condition becomes severe, not enough blood can get through to supply enough oxygen for even comfortable, quiet living. When a person has deteriorated to this extent, even moderate exertion could result in an attack of angina or a heart attack.
A deteriorated artery cannot be rejuvenated, though there is some evidence that an improved living program can bring some clearing of the deposited material. When a person in this condition goes on a regulated exercise program, the smaller blood vessels gradually take over the transport of blood. These smaller vessels may enlarge and sometimes become almost as efficient as the arteries that originally managed this task.
A conditioned heart can do its work with fewer strokes because a heart that is used to regular exercise is stronger than an inactive one and can pump more blood with each contraction. Since it can pump enough blood with fewer beats, the heart can rest longer between contractions. An exercise program that results in a savings of 14 beats a minute will result in a savings of 800 beats an hour, or 20,000 a day. In a year's time, the heart is saved some seven million beats! It is a real truism that you are as old as your arteries.
Increase Efficiency Throughout the Body
As exercise is increasing the efficiency of your heart it is also working to bring other parts of your system into a state of increased efficiency. The lungs become conditioned to process more air with less effort. There is an increase in the number and size of the blood vessels, allowing them to saturate the tissues throughout the body with energy-producing oxygen. This not only results in better endurance and energy levels, but also gives the body protection against many forms of illness and disease. As the muscles and blood vessels change from being weak and flabby to strong and firm, the blood pressure is often reduced in the process.
Life today is filled with many pressures leading to stress. One of the best stress relievers available is exercise. Even moderate exercise will neutralize many of the harmful effects of stress.
Mental efficiency increases with activity. "Medical students who were failing, scholastically, were advised to take some time every day for vigorous exercise. Against their better judgment, they tried this program with the surprising result that all increased their grades; some advancing from the lowest third to the upper third of the class." The Wheel of Health, 47, L.H. Lonegran, M.D., M.P.H., Associate Professor Emeritus, School of Health, Loma Linda University.
"The student who with limited time and means is struggling to gain an education should realize that time spent in physical exercise is not lost. He who continually poures over his books will find, after a time, that the mind has lost its freshness. Those who give proper attention to physical development will make greater advancement in literary lines than they would if their entire time were devoted to study." Education, 208
How Much Does it Take to Help?
"Experts from the American College of Sports Medicine and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (ACSM-CDC) reviewed dozens of studies and concluded that 30 minutes a day of walking or any moderate-level physical activity could help stave off chronic illness and increase longevity. . . .
"The ACSM-CDC recommendations urge people to accumulate a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate physical activity at least five days a week. The guidelines define moderate activity as walking briskly at 3-4 mph, biking at speeds of 10 mph, playing pingpong, golfing while carrying or pulling clubs. . . . Vacuuming, weeding, mowing with a power mower, and house painting also provide moderate exercise." Harvard Health Letter, September 1995
"Most researchers estimate that no more than 20 to 30 percent of the adult population in the United States is regularly physically active. . . .
"A seven-year study involving more than 12,000 people, known as the Multiple Risk Factor Intervention Trial (MRFIT), showed that men who were regularly active in household chores, lawn mowing, or walking, all moderate-level activities, significantly lowered their risk of heart disease. In addition, a study from the Cooper Institute for Aerobics Research in Dallas published four or five years ago showed that all you needed to do was get out of the bottom, most unfit 20 percent of the population to get a tremendous benefit in terms of lowering your risk of heart disease. The level of activity required to move up that one notch is moderate walking." Tufts University Diet and Nutrition Letter, July 1995In some minds, the question arises;
What is moderate walking? Most sources agree that it requires walking at at least 4 mph to obtain the desired results. In other words, it is not speed walking, or racing, but walking at a determined pace.
Each year a large amount of money is spent on sleeping pills to help those who cannot sleep to do so, when most generally, a regular exercise program is all that is needed. The Scripture says, "The sleep of a laboring man is sweet." Ecclesiastes 5:12
Most people do not fail at an exercise program because of some major problem but because of little things. In considering a program of exercise, ask yourself what it is that you like to do, then choose a program that there is a likelihood you will be able to stick to. It is not a good idea to chose swimming if you do not have convenient access to a swimming pool. Once you get started, you may find that exercise is the closest thing to a fountain of youth that you can hope to find. Do not put it off; start today!
Copyright 1995 by Jack Kendall
Brought to you by Champions of Truth