Friday March 18, 2016
Air and water are necessary for life. Without them, it doesn't take long before you're dead: three minutes without air, and a week to 10 days without water, on average. Your body/mind starts sending warning signals way before you get close to either.
There is another essence of life for humans that when diminished may not kill you quickly, but certainly can cause a slow death either functionally or in your outlook on life.
That Essence of Life is Movement. As humans, we are designed to move. Every one of our systems is predicated upon it to function correctly.
Much like a self-winding watch, our bodies require movement to function and stay healthy and vibrant.
When we walk, our joints are lubricated and stiffness lessens. When we inhale, our diaphragm expands and our lungs draw in oxygen. When we eat a meal, the smooth muscle within our esophagus moves the food down to our stomachs, and smooth muscle within our intestines moves the waste out. Without movement, stagnation occurs that can lead to decay and disease in any of our systems. "Move it or Lose it" is an adage that is spot-on when it comes to the body.
Have you ever felt stiff from sitting too long? The connective tissue (home environment of everything else in your body) has gel-like properties. It's more fluid-like and flexible when we move or it sets up and becomes more solid when we are sedentary. As we advance on the time line of life, it's even more important to stay hydrated and move to keep connective tissue healthy and flexible so that everything within it can stay healthy too.
Obviously, having a comfortable body makes life more enjoyable from the physical perspective.
There are even greater benefits to be had, though. Movement, cardiovascular exercise in particular, also significantly benefits your brain and your outlook on life as a result.
• A study of 120 sedentary adults 55-80 who incorporated 40 minutes of brisk walking only 3 times per week over a year revealed new neuron growth (2%) in the hippocampus, the area responsible for developing new learning and memory.
• It's well-documented that exercise releases endorphins, the body's natural pain relievers as well as serotonin which elevates mood.
So, the next time your mind clamors for comfort food, lace on your sneakers or dancing shoes, and "move it" instead.
You'll get the pleasure response without the calories, along with the benefits of a sharper brain, an uplifted mood, and be able to give yourself props for making the more loving choice.