For Mind and Body
Do you remember learning in school about the second law of thermodynamics, the law of entropy? Basically, entropy is the physical world's way of always moving toward states of greater disorder. Natural systems tend to move to the lowest energy state possible. Does that sound like you? Shoelaces untie, ice cream melts, and people end up on the couch.
Up to half of all American adults are sedentary.1 Other countries' statistics may vary, but Americans surely cannot be proud of their behavior! Life provides many distractions and excuses not to exercise. Television, computers, bringing home work from the office, and video games, are a few of the major culprits.
Why should I exercise? Think flabby muscles and failing organs. Regular exercise keeps the blood flowing. Blood is the transportation system for all the nutrients, oxygen, and water our cells need, from our brains to our toenails. Lack of exercise weakens the circulatory system causing blood to pool, thus oxygen and nutrients cannot get to their destinations. Organs are not getting the fuel they need for proper functioning. No wonder lack of exercise contributes to heart disease, diabetes, colon cancer, high blood pressure, and obesity, to name but a few.2
Exercise also helps prevent osteoporosis. The bones and joints require weight-bearing exercise to stimulate the body to make more osteocytes-bone cells. Sedentary lifestyles lead to porous, brittle bones.3
With depression and anxiety major health concerns today, it is no wonder that a link between emotional well being and exercise has been found. You may have heard about endorphin, which is a substance naturally produced by the body that is hundreds of times more potent than morphine.4 Exercise causes your body to release endorphins and perhaps serotonin which causes an individual to feel a sense of well-being. Not to mention that having a more fit body can make anyone feel better about themselves.
Exercise not only strengthens your cardiovascular system; it reduces the amount of harmful cholesterol (LDL) in your blood and actually can help reverse atherosclerosis-- hardening of the arteries. Insufficient physical activity is a known risk factor leading to ischemic heart disease and stroke, that together account for more than 40% of deaths in the United States.5
What is considered exercise? Sorry, channel surfing is not on the list. Aerobic-or oxygen providing-exercise is considered any exercise that raises the heart rate, and keeps it up, for a minimum of 30 minutes. This can include, but is not limited to, brisk walking, bicycling, swimming, and rowing. Aerobic exercise is recommended five or more times a week.
Today, obesity is not only a problem in adults for even childhood obesity is on the rise. Exercise burns off calories and when we burn more calories than we eat, we lose weight. Also, after exercising, your metabolism speeds up, making you feel more energetic and burns calories faster for the remainder of the day. Being at an ideal weight reduces the likelihood that you'll have heart disease and is very beneficial in preventing and treating diabetes.
You now know that exercise leads to greater health and prevents disease. Exercise is your weapon for combating the law of entropy and moving toward greater states of health instead of disease and disorder. You know who you are, get off the couch!
written by Sheryle Beaudry, RN,C, BSN - Copyright © 2000
1 No Leisure-time Physical Activity Among Adults, CDC, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 19982
3 Fitness Basics, Theodore Berland, Reviewed by Jeffrey L. Tanji, MD, American Medical Association, 1997
5 Cardiovascular Diseases, Chronic Diseases and Their Risk Factors, CDC Report, 1996