Want good health and long life? Just move.

Want good health and long life? Just move. 960 640 Geoff

Is exercise the magic bullet that will ensure your good health? If you consider the undisputed, proven benefits of human movement it is pretty hard to argue that it isn’t.

For millions of years we moved. A lot. If we didn’t we died as our food sources ran out and predators made us into lunch. For millions of years we walked at least 20 kilometres per day in search of food, water and a way to defend against those pesky predators. It was under these circumstances that our brains developed until we owned the position at the top of the food chain and became the smartest living creatures on the planet. Our intellect and physiology were developed through movement. It was through movement that we evolved. We wiped out our predators and enjoyed undisputed champion of the world status.

Exercise makes your muscles and bones stronger; it improves your balance and strength. It helps regulate your appetite, improves your blood lipid profile, reduces your risk for more than a dozen types of cancer, improves your immune system and buffers against the devastatingly toxic effects of stress (stress is as harmful to your health as malnutrition). By enriching your cardiovascular system, exercise decreases your risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

“Once upon a time, we grew up in top physical shape, or we didn’t grow up at all. Nothing really has changed. A body neglected is a body that succumbs to modern illness and injury. Life expectancy is at it’s lowest for decades. We can, however, do something about it. Just move”.

The benefits are not just physical. Exercise improves cognitive function in adults and children. Decision making, concentration and memory are all improved. Children who exercise perform better at school. Older adults who exercise retain mental acuity longer. Exercise has proven anti-aging effects. While the debate about what sort of exercise is best will rage on while ever a commercial dollar is to be made, no-one ever disputes that exercise is vital to good physical and mental health. Movement keeps you alive and keeps you smart.

manager eating unhealthy food at work placeFast forward x number of millions of years. We have stopped moving and it could be argued that we are actually de-evolving!! The majority of the population is sedentary and we are self-destructing. Rates of physical and mental illness are out of control. Cancer touches us or someone we know every day. Half of us are overweight or obese and would be incapable of walking 2 kilometres much less running from a predator. We sit all day in depressing corporate cubicles. We consume harmful convenience foods because we don’t have the energy to prepare a meal. The big pharmaceutical and food corporations who prey on this fact and cleverly market these foods to our tired bodies and minds have become the modern age predators. And they are wiping us out.

But exercise, in whatever its form, will have an immediate benefit. Walking twice per week, even at a leisurely pace, will literally get the blood flowing and nourish your cells and remove the toxins that accumulate and harm them. Even better, regular higher intensity exercise and strength training will accelerate that process and build lean muscle tissue – the type that powered our lean, Olympic physique gifted ancestors who conquered our world. Sitting still is killing you.

Once upon a time, we grew up in top physical shape, or we didn’t grow up at all. Nothing really has changed. A body neglected is a body that succumbs to illness and injury. Life expectancy is at it’s lowest for decades. We can, however, do something about it. Just move. That simple proposition served us well for millions of years and it will serve us just as well now. It doesn’t have to be complicated, it doesn’t have to be fancy and it doesn’t have to cost a great deal of money or time. Just move.

(This article borrows from the great book by John Medina – Brain Rules. Definitely worth a read).