The Amazing Benefits of Physical Activity

 

Walking

The amazing benefits of Physical Activity

The Amazing Benefits of Physical Activity 

Richard Hollerman

 

Do you know one of the chief ingredients of healthy living? We all know that good nutrition, sufficient sleep, clean habits, avoidance of tobacco and drugs, and clean air all contribute to good health. But have you really considered the matter of exercise as well? By this we refer to physical activity and movement.

Introduction

As we look at our contemporary world, there are at least two different views toward physical exercise. On the one hand, some people have made this into a virtual “god” that they daily worship and serve. They are incessantly involved in sports, running, visiting the gym, and by this they express anr exaggerated devotion to their physical body. On the other hand, the majority are what has been called “couch potatoes” who are totally lethargic in life and unconcerned about physical movement. They simply walk to their car, walk to the office from the car, and walk around the house in the evening, but don’t really exert themselves with anything physical.

Between these two extremes, we find a third position—the Biblical one. People who may be so classified recognize that their body has been given to them by God, thus it belongs to Him. Such a person knows that the Lord has given mental abilities and physical abilities, both of which are subject to God’s direction and aimed to His glory. These people realize that our purpose in life is to love and serve God while we love and bless other people. In order to accomplish this end, we are to use our physical bodies in a responsible way, and this generally includes physical activity.

We need to pause long enough to make two important points. First, we hope that this study will motivate you strongly to become involved with physical activity. However, as is common in written expositions on a subject like this, we offer a disclaimer and encourage you to consult with your medical doctor or physical counselor. Before involving yourself in extensive activity, it is the part of good sense to obtain expert advice on how to proceed.

The second point has to do with millions of people who simply cannot become involved in physical exertion. Here we refer to those who have limitations beyond their control. Some have physical disabilities that prevent them from active exercise. This would also include those who have had surgery such as a hip or knee replacement or those who have extensive arthritis that prevents them from ease of movement.

Lastly, it would include millions who are aged, perhaps in their eighties and nineties, who cannot exert themselves to any great extent. Age can bring a great amount of limitations that must be kept in mind (see Ecclesiastes 12:1-8). Of course, many older folks can make great strides in physical improvement even when they can’t imagine themselves to be a 30-year-old anymore.

Because of these exceptions, we wouldn’t want to cast blame and harshly judge people who simply cannot do much physically. Whether this is the result of an irresponsible life of inactivity or the result of factors beyond themselves, we commit this to God. But for the vast majority of people—hopefully most who are reading these words—we hope that this present study will instruct you and motivate you to live life to the fullness, not only with a good mental attitude and  regular exercise, but with an appreciation for God’s provision for our physical health.

Even though we live in a fallen world and our bodies are subject to sickness, injury, and eventual death (Genesis 2:17; 3:19; Romans 8:19-23; 2 Corinthians 4:16; Revelation 21:4), we have been “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14) for this we glorify God our Maker.

Pulling People from a Life of Inactivity

We imagine that many of our readers will be ones who give little thought to physical activity. Maybe you have no interest in anything else. Or you may just be uninformed of the benefits of exercise. Or perhaps you have mistaken notions on the positive effects of exercise. For whatever reason, you find yourself without the information we hope to share with you—in an interesting, clear, accurate, and convincing manner.

We have suggested that the opposite of unreasonable physical activity would be a  sedentary lifestyle. Sedentary may be defined in this way: “The definition of sedentary is someone or something that doesn’t move much. An example of sedentary is a person who sits on the couch all day and never exercises.”[i][1] Another definition puts it this way: “Scientists believe that one of the causes of the obesity epidemic sweeping the US is our sedentary lifestyle. Sedentary means sitting a lot and refers to a person or job that is not very physically active.”[ii][2]

A final definition would be: “(Of a person) tending to spend much time seated; somewhat inactive.” “(Of work or a way of life) characterized by much sitting and little physical exercise.”[iii][3]

In common language we refer to a person being a “couch potato.” Here are a few definitions of this rather recent term:

  • “A person who spends much time sitting or lyinhg down, usually watching television.”
  • “A lazy person shoes recreation consists chiefly of watching television and videos.”
  • “A person whose leisure time I spent watching television.”
  • “An idler who spends much time on a couch (usually watching television.”[iv][4]

We are constantly told in newspapers, on the TV, on the radio, and in the classroom how dangerous it is to smoke tobacco, consume drugs, eat high-fat foods, and drink contaminated water. We are told of the dangers of pollution and fast driving. And we also are warned of the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle. Many of us have taken these warnings to heart and changed our lifestyle to reflect what we know about inactivity. One authority explains this matter clearly:

A sedentary lifestyle is a type of lifestyle with no or irregular physical activity. A person who lives a sedentary lifestyle may colloquially be known as a couch potato. It is commonly found in both the developed and developing world. Sedentary activities include sitting, reading, watching television, playing video games, and computer use for much of the day with little or no vigorous physical exercise. A sedentary lifestyle can contribute to many preventable causes of death. Screen time is the amount of time a person spends watching a screen such as a television, computer monitor, or mobile device. Excessive screen time is linked to negative health consequences.[v][5]

What are some of the illnesses and physical consequences that come from inactivity?  The above source explains:

Sitting still may cause premature death. The risk is higher among those that sit still more than 5 hours per day. It is shown to be a risk factor on its own independent of hard exercise and BMI. The more still, the higher risk of chronic diseases. People that sit still more than 4 hours per day have a 40 percent higher risk than those that sit fewer than 4 hours per day. However, those that exercise at least 4 hours per week are as healthy as those that sit fewer than 4 hours per day.[vi][6]

The issue, according to this source, is the matter of activity and inactivity. The connection is sedentary living.  This can contribute to some of these physical problems:

  • Anxiety
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Mortality in elderly men by 30% and double the risk in elderly women
  • Deep vein thrombosis
  • Depression
  • Diabetes
  • Colon cancer
  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • Osteoporosis
  • Lipid disorders
  • Kidney stones
  • Corporal Syndrome
  • Frequent Back and neck pain or pinched nerve
  • Spinal disc herniation (Low back pain)

How many of us have acknowledged experiencing these physical ailments and assumed that we understood something of the cause? Maybe we have blamed our genetic makeup—and we know that our DNA is connected with negative physical issues. And how many have not only blamed our parents and ancestors, but also the society in which we live, or certain deprivations when we were growing up, or the influence of companions in our past?  We do know that all of this can influence our health—or lack of health. However, from what we see above, many physical illnesses can be traced to simple inactivity!

Benefits of Physical Activity

The first step toward understanding and change is to be informed. We hope that as we go along, you will be more informed on these matters than you have ever been in the past.

Consider this: Heart disease is directly related to lack of physical activity. Diabetes, colon cancer, high blood pressure, and obesity are all related to a failure to be physically active on a regular basis. We may fall prey to osteoporosis, kidney stones, and spinal problems if we fail to properly exercise regularly.

The dangers of being a “couch potato” are both well-known and clear. Are you aware of what we have been discussing and are you now concerned?

Lack of exercise causes muscle atrophy, i.e. shrinking and weakening of the muscles and accordingly increases susceptibility to physical injury. Additionally, physical fitness is correlated with immune system function; a reduction in physical fitness is generally accompanied by a weakening of the immune system. A review in Nature Reviews Cardiology suggests that since illness or injury are associated with prolonged periods of enforced rest, such sedentariness has physiologically become linked to life-preserving metabolic and stress related responses such as inflammation that aid recovery during illness and injury but which due to being nonadaptive during health now lead to chronic diseases.

Despite the well-known benefits of physical activity, many adults and many children lead a relatively sedentary lifestyle and are not active enough to achieve these health benefits.

In the 2008 United States American National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) 36% of adults were considered inactive. 59% of adult respondents never participated in vigorous physical activity lasting more than 10 minutes per week.[vii][7]

The government sometimes issues bulletins and makes recommendations with an effort to discourage sedentary living. Some companies promote wellness programs and may give a certain bonus for those who participate. Schools may promote good eating and exercise (but often do the reverse). Insurance companies promote better health for those they insure. But the bottom line is that each individual needs to take responsibility for his or her own physical health.

A number of suggestions have been made about this vital topic. One suggestion is that people wear a pedometer during the day (including one’s employment) and try to walk 10,000 steps (before work, during breaks, during the lunch hour, after work). Researchers have discovered that the more one walks during the day in this way, the more fit he or she is.

Another point often made is that one needs regular aerobic exercise. Aerobic exercise is defined in this way:

Aerobic exercise is any physical activity that uses large muscle groups and causes your body to use more oxygen than it would while resting. The goal of aerobic exercise is to increase cardiovascular endurance. Examples of aerobic exercise include cycling, swimming, brisk walking, skipping rope, rowing, hiking, playing tennis, continuous training, and long slow distance training.[viii][8]

This exercise might include taking a brisk walk five or six days of the week (maybe early morning before breakfast or after one returns home after the day’s work). It could include more vigorous activity, such as jogging, running bicycle riding, hiking, and gardening. This could also be done in the home with exercise equipment, such a stationary bike, a treadmill, or an elliptical trainer.

There has always been the matter of one’s regular employment. Generally a farmer, a road worker, a carpenter, a gardener, a yard worker, and those in other occupations require the expenditure of much energy and physical movement.  The problem with this is that the work, while appreciable, is often sporadic, thus one misses out on the aerobic effects of regular exercise. Yet these occupations can  contribute to our needed exercise quota.

A Closer Look at the Health Benefits of Exercise

As we have seen, sedentary living is extremely detrimental to physical health, whereas a reasonable amount of physical activity enhances health in numerous ways. Those ways are too numerous to count in an exhaustive way.

Physical exercise is any bodily activity that enhances or maintains physical fitness and overall health and wellness. It is performed for various reasons, including strengthening muscles and the cardiovascular system, honing athletic skills, weight loss or maintenance, and merely enjoyment. Frequent and regular physical exercise boosts the immune system and helps prevent the “diseases of affluence” such as heart disease, cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, and obesity.

It may also help prevent depression, help to promote or maintain positive self-esteem, improve mental health generally, and can augment an individual’s sex appeal or body image, which has been found to be linked with higher levels of self-esteem. Childhood obesity is a growing global concern, and physical exercise may help decrease some of the effects of childhood and adult obesity. Health care providers often call exercise the “miracle” or “wonder” drug—alluding to the wide variety of proven benefits that it can provide.[ix][9]

Notice these further positive health effects on the body:

Physical exercise is important for maintaining physical fitness and can contribute positively to maintaining a healthy weight, building and maintaining healthy bone density, muscle strength, and joint mobility, promoting physiological well-being, reducing surgical risks, and strengthening the immune system. Developing research has demonstrated that many of the benefits of exercise are mediated through the role of skeletal muscle as an endocrine organ. That is, contracting muscles release multiple substances known as myokines which promote the growth of new tissue, tissue repair, and multiple anti-inflammatory functions, which in turn reduce the risk of developing various inflammatory diseases.

Exercise reduces levels of cortisol, which causes many health problems, both physical and mental. Conversely, exercise increases levels of saliva nitrite, which can be converted to the nitric oxide, thereby, increasing intensity and training load. Saliva testing for nitric oxide serves as a marker for training status.

Endurance exercise before meals lowers blood glucose more than the same exercise after meals. According to the World Health Organization, lack of physical activity contributes to approximately 17% of heart disease and diabetes, 12% of falls in the elderly, and 10% of breast cancer and colon cancer.[x][10]

We know that excerpts like this may not be as simple to read and digest as we would like, however they will repay careful reading and thoughtful consideration.  Exercise is particularly beneficial for the heart:

The beneficial effect of exercise on the cardiovascular system is well documented. There is a direct relation between physical inactivity and cardiovascular mortality, and physical inactivity is an independent risk factor for the development of coronary artery disease. There is a dose-response relation between the amount of exercise performed from approximately 700 to 2000 kcal of energy expenditure per week and all-cause mortality and cardiovascular disease mortality in middle-aged and elderly populations.

The greatest potential for reduced mortality is in the sedentary who become moderately active. Most beneficial effects of physical activity on cardiovascular disease mortality can be attained through moderate-intensity activity (40% to 60% of maximal oxygen uptake, depending on age). … persons who modify their behavior after myocardial infarction to include regular exercise have improved rates of survival. … Persons who remain sedentary have the highest risk for all-cause and cardiovascular disease mortality.[xi][11]

Did you notice that those who have been sedentary in the past but who begin to exercise regularly are especially benefitted in a physical way? Also, take note of the fact that those who “remain sedentary have the highest risk for all-cause and cardiovascular disease mortality [death].”

Cancer is another physical threat that comes from a lack of physical activity. Notice this report:

A systematic review evaluated 45 studies that examined the relationship between physical activity and cancer survivorship. According to the study results “There was consistent evidence from 27 observational studies that physical activity is associated with reduced all-cause, breast cancer–specific, and colon cancer–specific mortality”[xii][12]

Cancer is a devastating plague that continues on and on. Millions of families have been impacted by this mysterious threat. Do we wish to avoid cancer as much as we can? One aspect that we should not overlook is the benefits of exercise!

One aspect of physical well being is a healthy brain and mental sharpness as we age. No one likes the prospect of senility, especially Alzheimer’s Disease. Physical exercise may have a great protective benefit to our aging brain:

Physical activity has been shown to be neuroprotective in many neurodegenerative and neuromuscular diseases. Evidence suggests that it reduces the risk of developing dementia. The Caerphilly Heart Disease Study followed 2,375 male subjects over 30 years and examined the association between regular physical exercise and dementia. The study found that men who exercised regularly had a 59% reduction in dementia when compared to the men who didn’t exercise.

In addition, a 2008 review of cognitive enrichment therapies (strategies to slow or reverse cognitive decline) concluded that “physical activity, and aerobic exercise in particular, enhances older adults’ cognitive function”.[xiii][13]

A further benefit to physical exercise may be mentioned, that of a person’s mental attitude and experienced of depression. Obviously, there is a strong spiritual component to depression and faith in Christ does promote an attitude of joy and a positive attitude in life (see Philippians 4:6-8). But notice this comment as well:

Physical exercise, particularly aerobic exercise, has pronounced long-term antidepressant effects and can produce euphoria in the short-term. Numerous systematic reviews suggest that regular aerobic exercise (at sufficient intensity and duration) has comparable antidepressant efficacy to standard pharmaceutical antidepressants in treating depression. Consequently, current medical evidence supports the use of aerobic exercise as a treatment for depression.[xiv][14]

It would be far better to take a long and vigorous walk (along with prayer) than to get into the habit of consuming antidepressant medication!

Do you get enough sleep? Or do you have a problem with insomnia, as millions of people do?  Exercise may be the very thing for you:

A 2010 review of published scientific research suggested that exercise generally improves sleep for most people, and helps sleep disorders such as insomnia. The optimum time to exercise may be 4 to 8 hours before bedtime, though exercise at any time of day is beneficial, with the possible exception of heavy exercise taken shortly before bedtime, which may disturb sleep. There is, in any case, insufficient evidence to draw detailed conclusions about the relationship between exercise and sleep.

According to a 2005 study, exercise is the most recommended alternative to sleeping pills for resolving insomnia. Sleeping pills are more costly than to make time for a daily routine of staying fit, and may have dangerous side effects in the long run. Exercise can be a healthy, safe and inexpensive way to achieve more and better sleep.[xv][15]

Thus we would recommend getting sufficient aerobic exercise earlier in the day, sometime between daybreak and mid-afternoon. This may make it easier to fall asleep at 10 PM.

One explanation for the many benefits to physical activity may be noted, although it is more technical than our earlier quotations:

In a 2012 article regarding myokine research, Pedersen and Febbraio concluded that “physical inactivity and muscle disuse lead to loss of muscle mass and accumulation of visceral adipose tissue and consequently to the activation of a network of inflammatory pathways, which promote development of insulin resistance, atherosclerosis, neurodegeneration and tumour growth and, thereby, promote the development of a cluster of chronic diseases.

By contrast, the finding that muscles produce and release myokines provides a molecular basis for understanding how physical activity could protect against premature mortality…. Physical inactivity or muscle disuse potentially leads to an altered or impaired myokine response and/or resistance to the effects of myokines, which explains why lack of physical activity increases the risk of a whole network of diseases, including cardiovascular diseases, T2DM (Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus), cancer and osteoporosis.”[xvi][16]

Cure for Obesity

Did you know that exercise is probably one of the leading ways to overcome and avoid the problem of overweight? Everyone knows that obesity is a major health problem in America and the same can be said of this problem around the world.  In the United States, some 70 percent of people are either overweight or obese.  While some in the world are starving for lack of food, it would seem that those in the more affluent parts of the earth have gained too much weight and then suffer the consequences of their indulgence.

We emphasize that not all instances of being overweight come from dietary indiscretions for a small percentage come from other factors beyond a person’s control. However, the vast majority of overweight people can be helped by eating fewer calories and doing more physical activity.  How dangerous is this matter of being overweight?  The following is from our book, Why I Don’t Eat Junk Foods, pages 42-46. It is very appropriate here as well:

The following list of the health dangers of being obese does not claim to be comprehensive. In fairness, neither does it claim that all overweight people—or even any overweight or obese person—will contract all of the following ailments. Still, medical research and health experts have identified that overweight and obese people have significantly increased level of risk of contracting these ailments. You can be absolutely assured that some of them will apply to you. If not now, then sooner than you may think.

  1. High blood pressure, which may then also lead to:

Headaches

Ear noise & buzzing

Tiredness

Shortness of breath

Excessive sweating

Confusion

Vision changes

Nose bleeds

Blood in urine

Kidney damage / failure

Strokes

  1. Elevated serum cholesterol levels
  2. Elevated LDL (“bad” cholesterol) levels
  3. Decreased HDL (“good” cholesterol) levels
  4. Elevated triglyceride levels
  5. Elevated blood glucose
  6. Decreased blood oxygen
  7. Decreased testosterone levels
  8. Heart disease and Strokes, potentially leading on to:

Heart attack

Congestive heart failure

Sudden cardiac death

Angina

Arrhythmia

Chest pain

Brain hemorrhage

Paralysis

  1. Cancers including (but not limited to):

Endometrial cancer

Colon cancer

Gall bladder cancer

Prostate cancer

Kidney cancer

Esophageal cancer

Uterine cancer

Breast cancer

Ovarian cancer

Pancreatic cancer

  1. Asthma
  2. Snoring
  3. Obstructive sleep apnea
  4. Osteoarthritis
  5. Cataracts
  6. Erectile dysfunction
  7. Impotence
  8. Infertility
  9. Loss of libido
  10. Irregular menstrual cycles
  11. Gestational diabetes
  12. Type Two Diabetes, potentially resulting in:

Slow healing of cuts & wounds

Abnormally frequent urination

Increased thirst

Nerve damage

Blurred vision

Heart Disease

Kidney Disease

Stroke

Blindness

Erectile dysfunction

Amputations

  1. Pregnancy and birth complications
  2. Increased need for Ceasarean sections
  3. Birth defects for the infant such as:

Spina Bifida

Low blood sugar

Brain damage

Seizures

Neural tube defects

Omphalocele

Heart defects

  1. Depression
  2. Gall bladder disease, potentially leading on to:

Gall stones

Abdominal pain

Back pain

  1. Incontinence
  2. Increased surgical risks
  3. Tinnitus
  4. Fatty liver disease, potentially leading on to:

Cirrhosis of the liver

Severe liver damage / failure

  1. Insulin resistance syndrome
  2. Reduced immune function
  3. Swollen joints / fluid retention
  4. Muscular aches and pains, particularly:

Neck

Shoulders

Chest

  1. Biomechanical injuries & faults, including:

Sunken arches / flat foot

Heel spurs

Plantar fasciitis

Shin soreness

Creaking knees

Achilles tendonitis

Calcific tendonopathy

Sprained ankles

Bone chips

  1. Gout
  2. Social and career ostracism & discrimination which may result in loneliness, poverty, sexual frustration
  3. Periodontal disease (Research published : April 2009)
  4. Restless Legs Syndrome (Research published : April 2009)

As this list of the health dangers of obesity is far from comprehensive, you should now realize that there are many significant health risks associated with obesity. The effects of obesity are so far reaching that overweight & obese individuals would do well to consider not only their own welfare but also that of those they love and deal seriously with it before the consequences become irreversible. (dietwords.com/ obesity_dangers.shtml)[xvii][17]

Let’s Hear from Kenneth Cooper

Probably some of you have heard of Kenneth Cooper, the renowned founder of the Cooper Aerobics Center in Dallas and author of many books on aspects of health. He was also the personal physician of George Bush during his presidency (and probably since). Cooper has promoted the Cooper Center Longitudinal Study which has included more than 100,000 people. Authorities of all kinds endorse his findings and recommendations.  I personally heard of him in 1968 when a friend showed me the first edition of his popular book, Aerobics, that served to begin the jogging revolution. I also heard him speak in about 1976 or 1977, giving a fascinating description of his work and the health benefits of the exercise he promoted.

In an excellent article entitled, “The Value of Exercise,” Cooper gives us much food for thought.  He writes:

When sedentary men were compared to moderately active men, the latter saw a reduction in deaths from all causes by 58 percent and an increased life expectancy of six years.[xviii][18]

Cooper then lists various other studies that show the numerous benefits of aerobic activity. Here are some of them:

  • Lowers the risk for stroke by 27 percent
  • Reduces the incident of diabetes by approximately 50 percent.
  • Reduces the incident of high blood pressure by approximately 40 percent.
  • Can reduce mortality and the risk for recurrent breast cancer by approximately 50 percent.
  • Can lower the risk for colon cancer by more than 60 percent.
  • Cana reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by approximately 40 percent.[xix][19]

All of us would agree that statistics like this are very impressive, ones that we must not overlook. We must also bear in mind that if one were to combine physical activity with other components of health (especially good nutrition), the results would probably be even greater.

Cooper points out that “there is a long list of benefits including the lungs, heart, and cardiovascular system all working more efficiently.” He continues, “People who are aerobically fit (and most do take vitamin supplements) have increased immunity from upper respiratory infection and colds.”[xx][20]

Finally, it would be informative to list “the body’s top 10 benefits of aerobic exercise,” according to Cooper and his clinic. Here they are:

  1. More efficient functioning of the lungs.
  2. A more efficient and functioning heart.
  3. Development of new blood vessels in response to aerobic-type activities.
  4. Blood volume tends to increase, particularly the amount of hemoglobin and red blood cells.
  5. A change in metabolism, to the extent you can consume more calories without gaining weight.
  6. Protection against osteoiporosis.
  7. Protection against diabetes.
  8. There may be a decrease in body weight.
  9. Positive cholesterol effects.
  10. Aerobic activity has a relaxing effect on the digestive system, decreasing the likelihood of peptic ulcers or esophageal reflux.

Hopefully, you can see that this type of information has a much more important effect on your life than watching the foolishness and carnality of television. Eliminate the television (which has been called the “hellivision”) and get moving, just as we are learning in the above section on Kenneth Cooper as well as the remainder of this book.

Let’s Hear from Mayo Clinic

In an article entitled, “Exercise: 7 Benefits of Regular Physical Activity,” Mayo clinic offers a number of simple benefits to exercise. They are not dealing with the deeper benefits but the more popular positives that would appeal to many people. Here is what they say:

You know exercise is good for you, but do you know how good? From boosting your mood to improving your sex life, find out how exercise can improve your life.

Want to feel better, have more energy and perhaps even live longer? Look no further than exercise. The health benefits of regular exercise and physical activity are hard to ignore. And the benefits of exercise are yours for the taking, regardless of your age, sex or physical ability. Need more convincing to exercise? Check out these seven ways exercise can improve your life.

No. 1: Exercise controls weight

Exercise can help prevent excess weight gain or help maintain weight loss. When you engage in physical activity, you burn calories. The more intense the activity, the more calories you burn. You don’t need to set aside large chunks of time for exercise to reap weight-loss benefits. If you can’t do an actual workout, get more active throughout the day in simple ways — by taking the stairs instead of the elevator or revving up your household chores.

No. 2: Exercise combats health conditions and diseases

Worried about heart disease? Hoping to prevent high blood pressure? No matter what your current weight, being active boosts high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or “good,” cholesterol and decreases unhealthy triglycerides. This one-two punch keeps your blood flowing smoothly, which decreases your risk of cardiovascular diseases. In fact, regular physical activity can help you prevent or manage a wide range of health problems and concerns, including stroke, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, depression, certain types of cancer, arthritis and falls.

No. 3: Exercise improves mood

Need an emotional lift? Or need to blow off some steam after a stressful day? A workout at the gym or a brisk 30-minute walk can help. Physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals that may leave you feeling happier and more relaxed. You may also feel better about your appearance and yourself when you exercise regularly, which can boost your confidence and improve your self-esteem.

No. 4: Exercise boosts energy

Winded by grocery shopping or household chores? Regular physical activity can improve your muscle strength and boost your endurance. Exercise and physical activity deliver oxygen and nutrients to your tissues and help your cardiovascular system work more efficiently. And when your heart and lungs work more efficiently, you have more energy to go about your daily chores.

No. 5: Exercise promotes better sleep

Struggling to fall asleep? Or to stay asleep? Regular physical activity can help you fall asleep faster and deepen your sleep. Just don’t exercise too close to bedtime, or you may be too energized to fall asleep.

No. 6: Exercise puts the spark back into your sex life

Do you feel too tired or too out of shape to enjoy physical intimacy? Regular physical activity can leave you feeling energized and looking better, which may have a positive effect on your sex life. But there’s more to it than that. Regular physical activity can lead to enhanced arousal for women. And men who exercise regularly are less likely to have problems with erectile dysfunction than are men who don’t exercise.

No. 7: Exercise can be fun

Exercise and physical activity can be a fun way to spend some time. It gives you a chance to unwind, enjoy the outdoors or simply engage in activities that make you happy. Physical activity can also help you connect with family or friends in a fun social setting. So, take a dance class, hit the hiking trails or join a soccer team. Find a physical activity you enjoy, and just do it. If you get bored, try something new.

The bottom line on exercise

Exercise and physical activity are a great way to feel better, gain health benefits and have fun. As a general goal, aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day. If you want to lose weight or meet specific fitness goals, you may need to exercise more. Remember to check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program, especially if you haven’t exercised for a long time, have chronic health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes or arthritis, or you have any concerns.

mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/ fitness/in-depth/exercise/art-20048389?pg=2

Let’s Hear from Harvard University

While we can’t just accept everything that Harvard tells us, this institution does have some helpful advice on exercise.  Although we can’t include a complete article on exercise from this source (check the original source in the Endnotes), we’d like to carry the first two sections:

Although there are no sure-fire recipes for good health, the mixture of healthy eating and regular exercise comes awfully close. Most of The Nutrition Source is dedicated to singing the praises of a good diet. This is where physical activity gets its due.

Regular exercise or physical activity helps many of the body’s systems function better, keeps heart disease, diabetes, and a host of other diseases at bay, and is a key ingredient for losing weight. According to the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, (1) being physically active on a regular basis

  • Improves your chances of living longer and living healthier
  • Helps protect you from developing heart disease and stroke or its precursors, high blood pressure and undesirable blood lipid patterns
  • Helps protect you from developing certain cancers, including colon and breast cancer, and possibly lung and endometrial (uterine lining) cancer
  • Helps prevent type 2 diabetes (what was once called adult-onset diabetes) and metabolic syndrome (a constellation of risk factors that increases the chances of developing heart disease and diabetes; read more about simple steps to prevent diabetes)
  • Helps prevent the insidious loss of bone known as osteoporosis
  • Reduces the risk of falling and improves cognitive function among older adults
  • Relieves symptoms of depression and anxiety and improves mood
  • Prevents weight gain, promotes weight loss (when combined with a lower-calorie diet), and helps keep weight off after weight loss
  • Improves heart-lung and muscle fitness
  • Improves sleep

The Cost of Inactivity

If exercise and regular physical activity benefit the body, a sedentary lifestyle does the opposite, increasing the chances of becoming overweight and developing a number of chronic diseases. Despite all the good things going for it, only about 30 percent of adult Americans report they get regular physical activity during their leisure time—and about 40 percent of Americans say they get no leisure-time physical activity at all.

Studies  that measure people’s physical activity using special motion sensors (called accelerometers) suggest that self-reports of physical activity probably are over-estimated. According to analyses by a team from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention, inactivity was associated with more than 9 million cases of cardiovascular disease in 2001, at an estimated direct medical cost of nearly $24 billion. Another CDC analysis suggests that because individuals who are physically active have significantly lower annual direct medical costs than those who are inactive, getting people to become more active could cut yearly medical costs in the U.S. by more than $70 billion.

Being a “couch potato” may be harmful even for people who get regular exercise. The Nurses’ Health Study, for example, is one of many, many studies to find a strong link between television watching and obesity. Researchers followed more than 50,000 middle-aged women for six years, surveying their diet and activity habits. They found that for every two hours the women spent watching television each day, they had a 23 percent higher risk of becoming obese and 14 percent higher risk of developing diabetes. Interestingly, it didn’t matter if the women were avid exercisers: The more television they watched, the more likely they were to gain weight or develop diabetes, regardless of how much leisure-time activity and walking they did. Long hours of sitting at work also increased the risk of obesity and diabetes.

More recently, studies have found that people who spend more time each day watching television, sitting, or riding in cars  have a greater chance of dying early than people who spend less time on their duffs.  Researchers speculate that sitting for hours on end may change peoples’ metabolism in ways that promote obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic conditions. It is also possible that sitting is a marker for a broader sedentary lifestyle.

In sum, a morning jog or brisk lunchtime walk brings many health benefits—but these may not entirely make up for a day spent in front of the computer or an evening in front of the television set. So as you plan your daily activity routine, remember that cutting down on “sit time” may be just as important as increasing “fit time.”[xxi][21]

Biblical Activity

The Israelites before the time of Christ generally were not at all interested in organized sports and neither were the followers of Christ.[xxii][22] However, people in Biblical times—whether in the Old Testament or New—often obtained great amounts of physical activity. Here are a few examples that come to mind:

  • Noah and his sons took decades to build a massive ark or barge (some 450 feet long). This must have required massive physical exertion (Genesis 6).
  • Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were nomadic people who lived in tents while they tended their flocks and herds. This must have required a lot of walking and climbing.
  • Moses worked as a shepherd for 40 years, and later he and the Israelites wandered in the desert of Sinai for 40 years. This would have required physical exertion.
  • Elijah the prophet must have been in good physical condition, considering his running long distances (1 Kings 19:1-8).
  • David was a shepherd as a boy and then became a fugitive in the wilderness, both of which must have required physical stamina.
  • Peter, Andrew, James, and John were fishermen, an activity that would have required massive amounts of energy and activity (Matthew 4:18-22; John 21:1-8).
  • Paul traveled for years in his outreach activities, extending from Syria to Macedonia and Greece. This must have required a great amount of physical activity (2 Corinthians 12:23-27).
  • Jesus Christ our Lord spent most of His earthly life as a carpenter. Carpentry in those days required not only woodwork but also masonry. All of this must have meant that our Lord received much regular physical exercise (Matthew 13:55; Mark 6:3). He also walked long distances in his preaching and teaching tours.

We must conclude that even though Biblical characters were not involved in organized sports or athletics, their everyday occupations and way of life required much more physical activity than sedentary workers in our day. Although it must have been true that the ancients were not as much aware of the health benefits of physical exercise, the result was the same.

What Does the Bible Say about Physical Activity?

The scriptures major on the spiritual—who God is, who Christ is, salvation from sin, heaven and hell, how to live to please God, how to love God and love each other. However, the Word of God has been given so that “the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:17). We can glean bits of truth and counsel that will help us and stimulate us to be physically active for the benefit of our health.

  1. Work hard and avoid laziness

Paul the apostle commands some in his day, “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men” (Colossians 3:23). Evidently heeding this counsel would result in a great amount of physical activity. The same apostle wrote, “. . . not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord” (Romans 12:11). Although directed to service for the Lord, the principle would be applicable to physical matters as well.

Proverbs has much to say about the dangers of laziness or slothfulness. “Like vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes, so is the lazy one to those who send him” (10:26). Have you ever seen a lazy ant? No, for we have this instruction: “Go the ant, O sluggard, observe her ways and be wise” (6:6). In other words, be busy as an ant! Based on this, Solomon continues, “How long will you lie down, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep? (v. 9). Notice this final one: “As the door turns on its hinges, so does the sluggard on his bed” (26:14; cf. 20:4). Thus, be willing to renounce slothful living and begin to live with the energy God has given to you.

  1. Remember who owns your body

One of the chief lies that people believe has to do with the ownership of their body. We think and act like we (personally) own our body and can do anything that we want with our body. This false and self-centered philosophy must be exposed as a lie of the enemy. Paul explains this well in 1 Corinthians 6:12-20 as he applies the truth to the matter of purity and immorality. But some of what he writes can be applied to treatment of our physical body.

Notice this basic passage: “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Did you notice these facts: (1) If you are a Christian, your body is the temple (or house) of the Holy Spirit. (2) We do not belong to ourselves—but to Christ. (3) Christ bought our body with His own blood. (4) Therefore, we are to glorify God in the use of our body. This should give us powerful incentives to treat our body with respect and attempt to use it only for Godly purposes to further the purposes of God on earth. This would include treating our body with respect in regard to diet, exercise, sleep, and so forth.

  1. Your body is a sacrifice to God

Although we don’t offer animal sacrifices to God today as was required before the time of Moses as well as during the time of the Law, we do have other sacrifices to offer to the Lord.  Paul mentioned one of these in Romans 12:1:  “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” Would God consider the way you use your body to be a pleasing sacrifice to Him? Or would He say that you are using your body in a selfish, self-centered way? We should want to offer a sacrifice of good health to the Lord, if He permits this to be done.

  1. Be diligent in your labors

Diligence is a quality mentioned a number of times in the New Testament. It is quite closely related to the previous point.  The Hebrew writer says that we are to be diligent or active (6:11 and Romans 12:11). A diligent person will not sit around with nothing to do but will be active in whatever needs to be done. In the present context, this would include physical activity for our health.

  1. Use your time well

One of the reasons why people avoid exercise or physical activity is the lack of time. We realize that there are good and beneficial activities that need to be done, including our employment, raising our children, blessing our spouse, edifying brothers and sisters in the Lord, and reaching the lost. We must be active in reading and studying Scripture, meeting with the saints, keeping the house in good repair, teaching the children in home schooling, and maybe planting a garden. We could keep busy for 24 hours a day!

On the other hand, generally we can also obtain at least some physical exercise regularly. We may be able to become involved in this along with the spouse and children. Or we may be able to do such things as listen to the Scripture, memorize verses, or listen to teaching CDs while we exercise. Paul says, “’Awake sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.’ Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:14-16). The object is to “make the most of our time” in light of God’s purposes for your life.

  1. Always give the priority to spiritual growth and activity

There are some men and women who give the priority to their physical health. While we would agree that this is extremely important in our pursuit of fitness, we must always bear in mind what is of ultimate concern. Paul puts it this way: “Bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come” (1 Timothy 4:8). The apostle tells us that the physical is only of “little profit” while the pursuit of godliness is of much greater priority.

  1. Beware that you don’t fall into sports idolatry

Some may look at others who use images (e.g., Hindus, Buddhists, Catholics) and assume that while they could be considered “idolaters,” somehow we are exempt from such a charge. No, idolatry comes in various forms. One of the most popular forms in America (and many other countries) would be the “idol” of sports or athletics.[xxiii][23] Therefore, as you seek to participate in healthful physical activity, we urge you not to use sports as your means of activity. Find one of the many other forms of exercise that will give benefit to your body.

  1. Beware of being absolutely passive

It may be that someone thinks that if he engages in strenuous physical activity for an hour a day, this is all there is to it. It may be surprising to some to learn what modern researchers have discovering. They have found that sitting absolutely still or being physically passive for hour after hour can result in serious health compromises. This is why they recommend simply getting up and walking around for a minute or two every 20 to 30 minutes through the day. Or one could do some basic calisthenics for a minute or two through the day. Thus, even though you may exercise strenuously for an hour in the morning, be active sporadically through your day.

  1. Find ways to enhance your exercise experience

People have used different means to encourage physical activity.  Some listen to the recorded New Testament as they walk or run. This has the benefit of doing two positive activities at the same time, plus it makes the physical exercise much easier. Other people have chosen a companion to share accountability in the matter of exercise. This can be helpful if you know of someone close and compatible. We would caution you, however, to choose such a person well for we are not to have close fellowship with unbelievers who could pull us down spiritually (2 Corinthians 6:14-15) or lead us astray (Proverbs 22:24-25; 1 Corinthians 15:33).

  1. Be careful of the spiritual atmosphere of your exercise experience

Some people choose a location for physical activity that could compromise one’s spiritual life and influence.  For example, one may find that the popular fitness centers in the city provide temptations we need to avoid. In such a location, it may be that most of the exercisers wear immodest clothes that reveal much or most of their body. The immodesty can be devastating to one’s spirituality and sense of holiness (see Matthew 5:27-30). Or you, personally, may be tempted to wear immodest clothes while you exercise. Or there may be loud worldly music playing in the background that you will want to avoid. Some people have gone to the beach or swimming pools, and there one is always “asking for trouble” because of the compromising situation.

  1. Bear in mind the purpose of your physical activity

We have discussed this thoroughly enough, but it is often easy to forget the real reason why we exercise.  We don’t exercise to win an award for our efforts. We don’t run races to obtain a prize. We don’t participate to achieve the admiration of other people. We don’t exercise to lose weight so others will admire our attractiveness.

Rather, as in all of life, we do what we do to glorify God. “Whether, then you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). “Glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:20). Keep this purpose in the forefront in all you do, from day to day, and apply it directly to your physical activity.

There would be many other principles that you can apply to this important matter of physical activity. Keep your mind active as you think through the purpose of your activity and how you can please God in it.

Remember that there are several components to healthy living

It is true that we have focused on physical exercise here, but there are many other parts to healthy living. Here are a few of them:

  1. Good nutrition. We have discussed this in other literature, but it is an absolutely indispensible part of good health.[xxiv][24]
  2. Sufficient rest and sleep. Sleep is not an optional activity and it is not a waste of time. It is true that millions of people oversleep because of laziness, but we do need some amount (some suggesting between six and eight hours a night).
  3. Clean, refreshing water. Try to drink about eight glasses of water a day (between six and ten).
  4. Fresh air and sunshine. We know that in our age, we need to avoid air pollution and must beware of skin cancer, but we do need air and sunshine for healthful lungs and sufficient Vitamin D.
  5. Avoidance of harmful substances. This would include such things as tobacco and marijuana. It would include drugs. It would include poisons. All of this can compromise our health.[xxv][25]
  6. Beware of falling into the medicine trap. We are aware that many people do need certain medications for their physical issues, but some people take 8, 10, 15, or more medications each day! Ask your prevention-oriented doctor for an evaluation of all the drugs that you are consuming and ask what can be done to decrease the drug use.
  7. Get to know a nutrition oriented, exercise oriented preventive physician. Not all doctors are knowledgeable in the nutritional field or aspects of exercise, thus do research until you find the best doctor in your area. Then regularly consult with him on your health-illness needs.
  8. A tranquil mental attitude. Emotional stress can make compromises to our physical health, by raising the blood pressure and giving a feeling of unwellness.

Recommendations

Apart from the various limitations that may be yours, this study of physical activity has revealed a number of important points and given us many words of counsel to live a healthy life through exercise. With this background, we can arrive at these suggestions:

  1. Develop a motivation to be physically fit by reading the contents of this study frequently. You will gain both knowledge as well as increase your motivation.

 

  1. Read books and articles that inform and stimulate you so that you understand the basics of physical exercise and perhaps read testimonies of those who have been blessed in this means.

 

  1. Consult with your health professional to determine the condition of your heart and other aspects of your physical health, particularly if you are older in years and haven’t exercised for decades.

 

  1. Discuss your plans with your family and seek their support, cooperation, and even participation.

 

  1. Plan your strategy, collect any special clothes, find a location, and determine what time of the day would be best for you to exercise (e.g., shoes would be important in walking or jogging).

 

  1. Prepare any supplemental materials for your exercise. For example, if walking, obtain a CD player, edifying CDs, cards with Bible verses, etc.

 

  1. Exercise long enough and frequently enough to attain a training effect. Generally the rule is to exercise for at least 30 minutes a day, but 60 minutes a day may be better, if possible. (But only gradually increase time and intensity to prevent injuries.)

 

  1. One alternative would be early morning. Researchers have discovered that those who exercise before the day’s activities are more likely to continue. Another alternative may be after work and before dinner, or maybe during your lunch hour. (This will be determined by your family responsibilities and especially your desire to spend time in prayer and Bible reading.)

 

  1. Remember that exercise is only one component of good health. Nutrition would be yet another, along with various others.

 

  1. You may want to help motivate yourself by keeping a record of your exercise—the place, the time, the exercise, and a description. You can monitor your pulse and blood pressure as well.

 

  1. If you would rather not exercise alone, you may want to enlist the companionship of a friend, providing the person is a wholesome person who would positively influence you.

 

  1. Practice perseverance. Don’t give up. It may take 3-6 weeks to develop a new habit of physical activity. After that, exercise will become much easier.

 

  1. If you are injured, we willing to discontinue exercising until complete healing takes place. Consult a specialist if it is a major problem.

 

With all of these points in mind, we believe that you will be able to begin and continue this new way of life and thereby partake in a practice that nearly all physiologists recommend for physical wellbeing.

Recognize that God has given you a precious possession when He gave you your body (Psalm 139:14), and He expects you to fulfill this responsibly each day. May God bless you as you seek to glorify Him in your body (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) and be a good steward of your physical health (1 Corinthians 4:2). In all that you do, do everything for the glory of God your Creator (1 Corinthians 10:31). And lastly, remember to always make God and His will your priority in life—not physical fitness (Colossians 1:18; Matthew 6:33).

Additional Information

We have quoted a number of articles earlier in our discussion on physical health, but let’s add several more direct quotations that will help to explain the reasons why this matter must be important to all of our readers. We’ll offer these excerpts from a variety of sources, and won’t be commenting directly on any of them.

  • Physical activity. Aside from all the health benefits for your body, regular exercise seems to improve emotional health, too. Its regularly recommended to people as a way to help prevent or treat depression” (United Healthcare bulletin).

 

  • “Exercise is one of the best ways to chill out. A university of Southern California study found that when participants took a vigorous walk around a track, they reduced tension in their bodies by 20 percent.”[xxvi][26]

 

  • “Walking or running—any exercise in an upright position—is more effective for bone than swimming. They’re all great exercises for muscle, but the ones that put a load on bones are better for the skeleton.”[xxvii][27]

 

  • “’Long periods of sitting cannot be compensated for with occasional leisure time physical activity,’ says Katzmarzyk. ‘If you’re active for just 30 minutes a day, how is that supposed to wipe out all the other hours of sitting?’ What’s so bad bout sitting?

 

“’Muscles seem to be extremely inactive while sitting, and this may change the way they metabolize compounds and may affect the regfulation of insulin and glucose,’ says Karzmarzyk. ‘Just getting people to stand up changes the physiology in their limbs.’

 

“His advice: ‘Stand up, walk around, do anything like that to encourage blood flow and increase the muscle activity in the lower limbs. Two of my colleagues here have treadmill desks, or they stand during meetings, or they’ll take a meeting outside and walk rather than sit.”[xxviii][28]

 

  • “Type 2 diabetics reap major benefits from that 150 minutes, but they will get even more if they can gradually work up to 300 minutes a week. That’s still less than 45 minutes a day. Additional exercise yields more benefits for the rest of us, too, especially those who are trying to keep their weight under control. A study published last summer found that women who were able to keep off 10 percent of their body weight over two years exercised about 275 minutes a week—about 40 minutes of moderate exercise every day.”[xxix][29]

 

  • “Exercise, for your brain. Physical activity improves brain function in the same regions adversely affected by stress and lack of sleep. A 2003 review of 43 studies found that a single bout of moderate aerobic exercise temporarily improved executive function, or the ability to plan and carry out tasks quickly and efficiently. Another analysis, which combined the results of 18 studies, found that regular exercise yielded more long-term improvements in executive function among previously sedentary older adults. Exercise increases blood circulation to the brain and enhances neural activity.”[xxx][30]

 

  • “’Being overweight or obese is clearly associated with colorectal cancer, and a larger waist circumference also increases the risk,’ says Marjorie McCullough, director of nutritional epidemiology at the American Cancer Society. And in the NIH-AARP study of roughly half a million people, men and woman who did moderate to vigorous exercise at least five times a week had an 18 percent lower risk of colon cancer than those who did little or no exercise.”[xxxi][31]

 

  • “We walk, run, and swim for health reasons. But a well-rounded exercise program needs to include strength training, too. Exercise is on every to-do list for staying healthy, and there’s pretty wide agreement on how much is necessary. The physical activity guidelines issued in 2008 by the federal government echoes other guidelines by recommending that American adults get at least 2 ½ hours of moderate intensity aerobic exercise a week. Aerobic exercise is any repeated motion that increases your heart and breathing rates so that more oxygen reaches your muscles.

 

“Walking at a fast pace of three to four miles per hour (three is brisk; four can feel downright fast) is often held up as the beau ideal or moderate intensity. . . . Given the multiple benefits—the lowering of the risk of heart attack, stroke and diabetes; protection against some forms of cancer (notably colon cancer); deflection of depression; important assistance in weight control—could there be a more effective medicine?”[xxxii][32]

 

  • “People who are physically fit at midlife appear to be much less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia than those who were less fit, according to a study conducted at the Cooper Institute in Dallas. You still have time to get serious: Recent research in the British Medical Journal found that even people 75 or older could boost their life expectancy by five to six years if they started to exercise more.”[xxxiii][33]

 

  • “Now, emerging science is telling us that weight, diet and exercise play a crucial role in protecting us against cancer, too. Indeed, there are lifestyle changes we have the power to make that will improve our odds against this disease, researchers say. ‘We know that we can prevent about a third of all cancers if people would maintain a healthy weight, eat a plant-based diet and be physically active,’ says Alice Bender, a registered dietitian with the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR).”[xxxiv][34]

 

  • “’People who don’t smoke, who are not overweight, who don’t drink alcohol in excess, who exercise regularly, and who eat a healthy diet have about an 80 percent lower risk of a first stroke,’ explains Goldstein. ‘And the risk decreases for each of those lifestyle habits.’”[xxxv][35]

 

  • “Endorphins, or feel-good chemicals released during exercise, can counteract adrenaline’s negative effects when you’re feeling stressed. ‘It’s like a spa for the heart,’ Stevens says, since endorphins relax muscles and dilate vessels. And there’s evidence that people who get regular aerobic exercise have lower levels of stress hormones and experience smaller increases in heart rate and blood pressure under stressful conditions.”[xxxvi][36]

 

  • “Strength training helps prevent muscle loss as you age. But if you’re overweight and only able to do one kind of exercise, go for aerobic. It’s most likely to curb the insulin resistance that boosts the risk of heart disease and diabetes.”[xxxvii][37]

 

  • “’there are about 191 things that go into calculating your real age,’ he says, ‘and 149 of those things are within your control to change.’ You can, for example, quit smoking, cultivate strong social support, get regular exercise, and eat right.”[xxxviii][38]

 

  • . . . lowering excess blood sugar levels through exercise and diet—even if you’re not diabetic—could help you maintain your memory. . . . PAD [peripheral artery disease] can’t be undone, but it doesn’t have to get worse—and its deadliest complications are preventable. A more healthful diet can improve blood pressure and insulin levels. So can exercise, which has been linked to lowered rates of cardiovascular death in PAD patients.”[xxxix][39]

 

  • “The best brain-saving strategy is physical exercise. People who are active do better on tests of executive control, which is involved in scheduling, planning, and memory. And active adults are also less likely to have Alzheimer’s in old age.”[xl][40]

 

  • “The tool that everyone agrees works to shore up muscles: an exercise habit, preferably a lifelong one. That means an aerobic fitness routine—like a 30-minute walk every day—to help keep muscle tissue health. And it means a basic strength-training program.”[xli][41]

 

Endnotes

[i][1] yourdictionary.com/sedentary

[ii][2] vocabulary.com/dictionary/sedentary

[iii][3] oxforddictionaries.com/us/definition/american_english/sedentary

[iv][4] thefreedictionary.com/couch+potato

[v][5] en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sedentary_lifestyle

[vi][6] Ibid.

[vii][7] Ibid.

[viii][8] en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Physical_exercise

[ix][9] Ibid.

[x][10] Ibid.

[xi][11] Ibid.

[xii][12] Ibid.

[xiii][13] Ibid.

[xiv][14] Ibid.

[xv][15] Ibid.

[xvi][16] Ibid.

[xvii][17] Why I Don’t Eat Junk Foods, pp. 42-46.

[xviii][18] “The Value of Exercise,” Cooper Health, Summer 2010.

[xix][19] Ibid.

[xx][20] Ibid.

[xxi][21] hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/staying-active-full-story/

 

[xxii][22] We have documented this in our book, The Question of Sports (Rod and Staff Publishers).

[xxiii][23] See our book, The Question of Sports, for a thorough discussion of this question.

[xxiv][24] See Why I Don’t Eat Junk Foods and  Do You Really Want that Coke?

[xxv][25] See Tobacco: What Does the Bible Say?

[xxvi][26] msn.com/en-us/health/medical/secrets-of –people-who-never-get sick.

[xxvii][27] “Breaking Bad,” Nutrition Action Healthletter, December 2014.

[xxviii][28] David Schardt, “Seven Facts You may not Know about Exercise,” Nutrition Action Healthletter, December, 2009, p. 10.

[xxix][29] Katherine Hobson, “Take Your Mark, Get Set, Go. Here’s What You Need to Do to Get Fit,” U. S. News & World Report, February 2009, p. 82.

[xxx][30] “Clearing Away Brain Fog,” Consumer Reports on Health, Volume 20, Number 3, p. 5.

[xxxi][31] Bonnie Liebman, “Cancer: How to Lower Your Risk,” Nutrition Action Health Letter, January/February 2012, pp. 3-4.

[xxxii][32] “Can Resistance Training Stop Aging?, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, August 29, 2009.

[xxxiii][33] “How Healthy Are You?” Consumer Reports on Health, Volume 25, Number 6; June 2013; p. 5.

[xxxiv][34] Elizabeth Agnvall, “Eat to Prevent Cancer,” AARP.org/Bulletin, December 2012, p. 12.

 

[xxxv][35] Bonnie Liebman, “A Strike Against Stroke, “ Nutrition Action Health Letter, November, 2012, p. 4.

[xxxvi][36] “Is Stress Making You Sick,” Consumer Reports on Health, October 2012, p. 5.

[xxxvii][37] “Exercise Run-Off,” Nutrition Action HealthLetter, june 2012, p. 8.

[xxxviii][38] Michael Roizen (Cleveland Clinic), ”Younger Than Your Years,” U. S. News & World Report, February 1009.

[xxxix][39] “Younger Than Your Years,” U. S. News  World Report, February, p. 68.

[xl][40] Ibid.

 

[xli][41] Ibid, p. 71.

Do you know one of the chief ingredients of healthy living? We all know that good nutrition, sufficient sleep, clean habits, avoidance of tobacco and drugs, and clean air all contribute to good health. But have you really considered the matter of exercise as well? By this we refer to physical activity and movement.

Introduction

As we look at our contemporary world, there are at least two different views toward physical exercise. On the one hand, some people have made this into a virtual “god” that they daily worship and serve. They are incessantly involved in sports, running, visiting the gym, and by this they express an exaggerated devotion to their physical body. On the other hand, the majority are what has been called “couch potatoes” who are totally lethargic in life and unconcerned about physical movement. They simply walk to their car, walk to the office from the car, and walk around the house in the evening, but don’t really exert themselves with anything physical.

Between these two extremes, we find a third position–the Biblical one. People who may be so classified recognize that their body has been given to them by God, thus it belongs to Him. Such a person knows that the Lord has given mental abilities and physical abilities, both of which are subject to God’s direction and aimed to His glory. These people realize that our purpose in life is to love and serve God while we love and bless other people. In order to accomplish this end, we are to use our physical bodies in a responsible way, and this generally includes physical activity.

We need to pause long enough to make two important points. First, we hope that this study will motivate you strongly to become involved with physical activity. However, as is common in written expositions on a subject like this, we offer a disclaimer and encourage you to consult with your medical doctor or physical counselor. Before involving yourself in extensive activity, it is the part of good sense to obtain expert advice on how to proceed.

The second point has to do with millions of people who simply cannot become involved in physical exertion. Here we refer to those who have limitations beyond their control. Some have physical disabilities that prevent them from active exercise. This would also include those who have had surgery such as a hip or knee replacement or those who have extensive arthritis that prevents them from ease of movement.

Lastly, it would include millions who are aged, perhaps in their eighties and nineties, who cannot exert themselves to any great extent. Age can bring a great amount of limitations that must be kept in mind (see Ecclesiastes 12:1-8). Of course, many older folks can make great strides in physical improvement even when they can’t imagine themselves to be a 30-year-old anymore.

Because of these exceptions, we wouldn’t want to cast blame and harshly judge people who simply cannot do much physically. Whether this is the result of an irresponsible life of inactivity or the result of factors beyond themselves, we commit this to God. But for the vast majority of people–hopefully most who are reading these words–we hope that this present study will instruct you and motivate you to live life to the fullness, not only with a good mental attitude and  regular exercise, but with an appreciation for God’s provision for our physical health.

Even though we live in a fallen world and our bodies are subject to sickness, injury, and eventual death (Genesis 2:17; 3:19; Romans 8:19-23; 2 Corinthians 4:16; Revelation 21:4), we have been “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14) for this we glorify God our Maker.

Pulling People from a Life of Inactivity 

We imagine that many of our readers will be ones who give little thought to physical activity. Maybe you have no interest in anything else. Or you may just be uninformed of the benefits of exercise. Or perhaps you have mistaken notions on the positive effects of exercise. For whatever reason, you find yourself without the information we hope to share with you–in an interesting, clear, accurate, and convincing manner.

We have suggested that the opposite of unreasonable physical activity would be a  sedentary lifestyle. Sedentary may be defined in this way: “The definition of sedentary is someone or something that doesn’t move much. An example of sedentary is a person who sits on the couch all day and never exercises.”[1] Another definition puts it this way: “Scientists believe that one of the causes of the obesity epidemic sweeping the US is our sedentary lifestyle. Sedentary means sitting a lot and refers to a person or job that is not very physically active.”[2]

A final definition would be: “(Of a person) tending to spend much time seated; somewhat inactive.'(Of work or a way of life) characterized by much sitting and little physical exercise.'”[3]

In common language we refer to a person being a “couch potato.” Here are a few definitions of this rather recent term:

·      “A person who spends much time sitting or lyinhg down, usually watching television.”

·      “A lazy person shoes recreation consists chiefly of watching television and videos.”

·      “A person whose leisure time I spent watching television.”

·      “An idler who spends much time on a couch (usually watching television.”[4]

We are constantly told in newspapers, on the TV, on the radio, and in the classroom how dangerous it is to smoke tobacco, consume drugs, eat high-fat foods, and drink contaminated water. We are told of the dangers of pollution and fast driving. And we also are warned of the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle. Many of us have taken these warnings to heart and changed our lifestyle to reflect what we know about inactivity. One authority explains this matter clearly:

A sedentary lifestyle is a type of lifestyle with no or irregular physical activity. A person who lives a sedentary lifestyle may colloquially be known as a couch potato. It is commonly found in both the developed and developing world. Sedentary activities include sitting, reading, watching television, playing video games, and computer use for much of the day with little or no vigorous physical exercise. A sedentary lifestyle can contribute to many preventable causes of death. Screen time is the amount of time a person spends watching a screen such as a television, computer monitor, or mobile device. Excessive screen time is linked to negative health consequences.[5]

What are some of the illnesses and physical consequences that come from inactivity?  The above source explains:

Sitting still may cause premature death. The risk is higher among those that sit still more than 5 hours per day. It is shown to be a risk factor on its own independent of hard exercise and BMI. The more still, the higher risk of chronic diseases. People that sit still more than 4 hours per day have a 40 percent higher risk than those that sit fewer than 4 hours per day. However, those that exercise at least 4 hours per week are as healthy as those that sit fewer than 4 hours per day.[6]

The issue, according to this source, is the matter of activity and inactivity. The connection is sedentary living.  This can contribute to some of these physical problems:

•         Anxiety

•         Cardiovascular disease

•         Mortality in elderly men by 30% and double the risk in elderly women

•         Deep vein thrombosis

•         Depression

•         Diabetes

•         Colon cancer

•         High blood pressure

•         Obesity

•         Osteoporosis

•         Lipid disorders

•         Kidney stones

•         Corporal Syndrome

•         Frequent Back and neck pain or pinched nerve

•         Spinal disc herniation (Low back pain)

How many of us have acknowledged experiencing these physical ailments and assumed that we understood something of the cause? Maybe we have blamed our genetic makeup–and we know that our DNA is connected with negative physical issues. And how many have not only blamed our parents and ancestors, but also the society in which we live, or certain deprivations when we were growing up, or the influence of companions in our past?  We do know that all of this can influence our health–or lack of health. However, from what we see above, many physical illnesses can be traced to simple inactivity!

Benefits of Physical Activity

Benefits of Physical Activity 

The first step toward understanding and change is to be informed. We hope that as we go along, you will be more informed on these matters than you have ever been in the past.

Consider this: Heart disease is directly related to lack of physical activity. Diabetes, colon cancer, high blood pressure, and obesity are all related to a failure to be physically active on a regular basis. We may fall prey to osteoporosis, kidney stones, and spinal problems if we fail to properly exercise regularly.

The dangers of being a “couch potato” are both well-known and clear. Are you aware of what we have been discussing and are you now concerned?

Lack of exercise causes muscle atrophy, i.e. shrinking and weakening of the muscles and accordingly increases susceptibility to physical injury. Additionally, physical fitness is correlated with immune system function; a reduction in physical fitness is generally accompanied by a weakening of the immune system. A review in Nature Reviews Cardiology suggests that since illness or injury are associated with prolonged periods of enforced rest, such sedentariness has physiologically become linked to life-preserving metabolic and stress related responses such as inflammation that aid recovery during illness and injury but which due to being nonadaptive during health now lead to chronic diseases.

Despite the well-known benefits of physical activity, many adults and many children lead a relatively sedentary lifestyle and are not active enough to achieve these health benefits.

In the 2008 United States American National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) 36% of adults were considered inactive. 59% of adult respondents never participated in vigorous physical activity lasting more than 10 minutes per week.[7]

The government sometimes issues bulletins and makes recommendations with an effort to discourage sedentary living. Some companies promote wellness programs and may give a certain bonus for those who participate. Schools may promote good eating and exercise (but often do the reverse). Insurance companies promote better health for those they insure. But the bottom line is that each individual needs to take responsibility for his or her own physical health.

A number of suggestions have been made about this vital topic. One suggestion is that people wear a pedometer during the day (including one’s employment) and try to walk 10,000 steps (before work, during breaks, during the lunch hour, after work). Researchers have discovered that the more one walks during the day in this way, the more fit he or she is.

Another point often made is that one needs regular aerobic exercise. Aerobic exercise is defined in this way:

Aerobic exercise is any physical activity that uses large muscle groups and causes your body to use more oxygen than it would while resting. The goal of aerobic exercise is to increase cardiovascular endurance. Examples of aerobic exercise include cycling, swimming, brisk walking, skipping rope, rowing, hiking, playing tennis, continuous training, and long slow distance training.[8]

This exercise might include taking a brisk walk five or six days of the week (maybe early morning before breakfast or after one returns home after the day’s work). It could include more vigorous activity, such as jogging, running bicycle riding, hiking, and gardening. This could also be done in the home with exercise equipment, such a stationary bike, a treadmill, or an elliptical trainer.

Benefits of Physical Activity

There has always been the matter of one’s regular employment. Generally a farmer, a road worker, a carpenter, a gardener, a yard worker, and those in other occupations require the expenditure of much energy and physical movement.  The problem with this is that the work, while appreciable, is often sporadic, thus one misses out on the aerobic effects of regular exercise. Yet these occupations can  contribute to our needed exercise quota.

A Closer Look at the Health Benefits of Exercise 

As we have seen, sedentary living is extremely detrimental to physical health, whereas a reasonable amount of physical activity enhances health in numerous ways. Those ways are too numerous to count in an exhaustive way.

Physical exercise is any bodily activity that enhances or maintains physical fitness and overall health and wellness. It is performed for various reasons, including strengthening muscles and the cardiovascular system, honing athletic skills, weight loss or maintenance, and merely enjoyment. Frequent and regular physical exercise boosts the immune system and helps prevent the “diseases of affluence” such as heart disease, cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, and obesity.

It may also help prevent depression, help to promote or maintain positive self-esteem, improve mental health generally, and can augment an individual’s sex appeal or body image, which has been found to be linked with higher levels of self-esteem. Childhood obesity is a growing global concern, and physical exercise may help decrease some of the effects of childhood and adult obesity. Health care providers often call exercise the “miracle” or “wonder” drug—alluding to the wide variety of proven benefits that it can provide.[9]

Notice these further positive health effects on the body:

Physical exercise is important for maintaining physical fitness and can contribute positively to maintaining a healthy weight, building and maintaining healthy bone density, muscle strength, and joint mobility, promoting physiological well-being, reducing surgical risks, and strengthening the immune system. Developing research has demonstrated that many of the benefits of exercise are mediated through the role of skeletal muscle as an endocrine organ. That is, contracting muscles release multiple substances known as myokines which promote the growth of new tissue, tissue repair, and multiple anti-inflammatory functions, which in turn reduce the risk of developing various inflammatory diseases.

Exercise reduces levels of cortisol, which causes many health problems, both physical and mental. Conversely, exercise increases levels of saliva nitrite, which can be converted to the nitric oxide, thereby, increasing intensity and training load. Saliva testing for nitric oxide serves as a marker for training status.

Endurance exercise before meals lowers blood glucose more than the same exercise after meals. According to the World Health Organization, lack of physical activity contributes to approximately 17% of heart disease and diabetes, 12% of falls in the elderly, and 10% of breast cancer and colon cancer.[10]

We know that excerpts like this may not be as simple to read and digest as we would like, however they will repay careful reading and thoughtful consideration.  Exercise is particularly beneficial for the heart:

The beneficial effect of exercise on the cardiovascular system is well documented. There is a direct relation between physical inactivity and cardiovascular mortality, and physical inactivity is an independent risk factor for the development of coronary artery disease. There is a dose-response relation between the amount of exercise performed from approximately 700 to 2000 kcal of energy expenditure per week and all-cause mortality and cardiovascular disease mortality in middle-aged and elderly populations.

The greatest potential for reduced mortality is in the sedentary who become moderately active. Most beneficial effects of physical activity on cardiovascular disease mortality can be attained through moderate-intensity activity (40% to 60% of maximal oxygen uptake, depending on age). … persons who modify their behavior after myocardial infarction to include regular exercise have improved rates of survival. … Persons who remain sedentary have the highest risk for all-cause and cardiovascular disease mortality.[11]

Did you notice that those who have been sedentary in the past but who begin to exercise regularly are especially benefitted in a physical way? Also, take note of the fact that those who remain sedentary have the highest risk for all-cause and cardiovascular disease mortality [death].

Physical Activity

Cancer is another physical threat that comes from a lack of physical activity. Notice this report:

A systematic review evaluated 45 studies that examined the relationship between physical activity and cancer survivorship. According to the study results “There was consistent evidence from 27 observational studies that physical activity is associated with reduced all-cause, breast cancer–specific, and colon cancer–specific mortality”[12]

Cancer is a devastating plague that continues on and on. Millions of families have been impacted by this mysterious threat. Do we wish to avoid cancer as much as we can? One aspect that we should not overlook is the benefits of exercise!

One aspect of physical well being is a healthy brain and mental sharpness as we age. No one likes the prospect of senility, especially Alzheimer’s Disease. Physical exercise may have a great protective benefit to our aging brain:

Physical activity has been shown to be neuroprotective in many neurodegenerative and neuromuscular diseases. Evidence suggests that it reduces the risk of developing dementia. The Caerphilly Heart Disease Study followed 2,375 male subjects over 30 years and examined the association between regular physical exercise and dementia. The study found that men who exercised regularly had a 59% reduction in dementia when compared to the men who didn’t exercise.

In addition, a 2008 review of cognitive enrichment therapies (strategies to slow or reverse cognitive decline) concluded that “physical activity, and aerobic exercise in particular, enhances older adults’ cognitive function”.[13]

A further benefit to physical exercise may be mentioned, that of a person’s mental attitude and experienced of depression. Obviously, there is a strong spiritual component to depression and faith in Christ does promote an attitude of joy and a positive attitude in life (see Philippians 4:6-8). But notice this comment as well:

Physical exercise, particularly aerobic exercise, has pronounced long-term antidepressant effects and can produce euphoria in the short-term. Numerous systematic reviews suggest that regular aerobic exercise (at sufficient intensity and duration) has comparable antidepressant efficacy to standard pharmaceutical antidepressants in treating depression. Consequently, current medical evidence supports the use of aerobic exercise as a treatment for depression.[14]

It would be far better to take a long and vigorous walk (along with prayer) than to get into the habit of consuming antidepressant medication!

Physical Activity

Do you get enough sleep? Or do you have a problem with insomnia, as millions of people do?  Exercise may be the very thing for you:

A 2010 review of published scientific research suggested that exercise generally improves sleep for most people, and helps sleep disorders such as insomnia. The optimum time to exercise may be 4 to 8 hours before bedtime, though exercise at any time of day is beneficial, with the possible exception of heavy exercise taken shortly before bedtime, which may disturb sleep. There is, in any case, insufficient evidence to draw detailed conclusions about the relationship between exercise and sleep.

According to a 2005 study, exercise is the most recommended alternative to sleeping pills for resolving insomnia. Sleeping pills are more costly than to make time for a daily routine of staying fit, and may have dangerous side effects in the long run. Exercise can be a healthy, safe and inexpensive way to achieve more and better sleep.[15]

Thus we would recommend getting sufficient aerobic exercise earlier in the day, sometime between daybreak and mid-afternoon. This may make it easier to fall asleep at 10 PM.

One explanation for the many benefits to physical activity may be noted, although it is more technical than our earlier quotations:

In a 2012 article regarding myokine research, Pedersen and Febbraio concluded that “physical inactivity and muscle disuse lead to loss of muscle mass and accumulation of visceral adipose tissue and consequently to the activation of a network of inflammatory pathways, which promote development of insulin resistance, atherosclerosis, neurodegeneration and tumour growth and, thereby, promote the development of a cluster of chronic diseases.

By contrast, the finding that muscles produce and release myokines provides a molecular basis for understanding how physical activity could protect against premature mortality…. Physical inactivity or muscle disuse potentially leads to an altered or impaired myokine response and/or resistance to the effects of myokines, which explains why lack of physical activity increases the risk of a whole network of diseases, including cardiovascular diseases, T2DM (Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus), cancer and osteoporosis.”[16]

Cure for Obesity 

Did you know that exercise is probably one of the leading ways to overcome and avoid the problem of overweight? Everyone knows that obesity is a major health problem in America and the same can be said of this problem around the world.  In the United States, some 70 percent of people are either overweight or obese.  While some in the world are starving for lack of food, it would seem that those in the more affluent parts of the earth have gained too much weight and then suffer the consequences of their indulgence.

We emphasize that not all instances of being overweight come from dietary indiscretions for a small percentage come from other factors beyond a person’s control. However, the vast majority of overweight people can be helped by eating fewer calories and doing more physical activity.  How dangerous is this matter of being overweight?  The following is from our book, Why I Don’t Eat Junk Foods, pages 42-46. It is very appropriate here as well:

The following list of the health dangers of being obese does not claim to be comprehensive. In fairness, neither does it claim that all overweight people–or even any overweight or obese person–will contract all of the following ailments. Still, medical research and health experts have identified that overweight and obese people have significantly increased level of risk of contracting these ailments. You can be absolutely assured that some of them will apply to you. If not now, then sooner than you may think.

1.    High blood pressure, which may then also lead to:

Headaches

Ear noise & buzzing

Tiredness

Shortness of breath

Excessive sweating

Confusion

Vision changes

Nose bleeds

Blood in urine

Kidney damage / failure

Strokes

2.    Elevated serum cholesterol levels

3.    Elevated LDL (“bad” cholesterol) levels

4.    Decreased HDL (“good” cholesterol) levels

5.    Elevated triglyceride levels

6.    Elevated blood glucose

7.    Decreased blood oxygen

8.    Decreased testosterone levels

9.    Heart disease and Strokes, potentially leading on to:

Heart attack

Congestive heart failure

Sudden cardiac death

Angina

Arrhythmia

Chest pain

Brain hemorrhage

Paralysis

10. Cancers including (but not limited to):

Endometrial cancer

Colon cancer

Gall bladder cancer

Prostate cancer

Kidney cancer

Esophageal cancer

Uterine cancer

Breast cancer

Ovarian cancer

Pancreatic cancer

11. Asthma

12. Snoring

13. Obstructive sleep apnea

14. Osteoarthritis

15. Cataracts

16. Erectile dysfunction

17. Impotence

18. Infertility

19. Loss of libido

20. Irregular menstrual cycles

21. Gestational diabetes

22. Type Two Diabetes, potentially resulting in:

Slow healing of cuts & wounds

Abnormally frequent urination

Increased thirst

Nerve damage

Blurred vision

Heart Disease

Kidney Disease

Stroke

Blindness

Erectile dysfunction

Amputations

23. Pregnancy and birth complications

24. Increased need for Ceasarean sections

25. Birth defects for the infant such as:

Spina Bifida

Low blood sugar

Brain damage

Seizures

Neural tube defects

Omphalocele

Heart defects

26. Depression

27. Gall bladder disease, potentially leading on to:

Gall stones

Abdominal pain

Back pain

28. Incontinence

29. Increased surgical risks

30. Tinnitus

31. Fatty liver disease, potentially leading on to:

Cirrhosis of the liver

Severe liver damage / failure

32. Insulin resistance syndrome

33. Reduced immune function

34. Swollen joints / fluid retention

35. Muscular aches and pains, particularly:

Neck

Shoulders

Chest

36. Biomechanical injuries & faults, including:

Sunken arches / flat foot

Heel spurs

Plantar fasciitis

Shin soreness

Creaking knees

Achilles tendonitis

Calcific tendonopathy

Sprained ankles

Bone chips

37. Gout

38. Social and career ostracism & discrimination which may result in loneliness, poverty, sexual frustration

39. Periodontal disease (Research published : April 2009)

40. Restless Legs Syndrome (Research published : April 2009)

As this list of the health dangers of obesity is far from comprehensive, you should now realize that there are many significant health risks associated with obesity. The effects of obesity are so far reaching that overweight & obese individuals would do well to consider not only their own welfare but also that of those they love and deal seriously with it before the consequences become irreversible. (dietwords.com/ obesity_dangers.shtml)[17]

Let’s Hear from Kenneth Cooper 

Probably some of you have heard of Kenneth Cooper, the renowned founder of the Cooper Aerobics Center in Dallas and author of many books on aspects of health. He was also the personal physician of George Bush during his presidency (and probably since). Cooper has promoted the Cooper Center Longitudinal Study which has included more than 100,000 people. Authorities of all kinds endorse his findings and recommendations.  I personally heard of him in 1968 when a friend showed me the first edition of his popular book, Aerobics, that served to begin the jogging revolution. I also heard him speak in about 1976 or 1977, giving a fascinating description of his work and the health benefits of the exercise he promoted.

In an excellent article entitled, “The Value of Exercise,” Cooper gives us much food for thought.  He writes:

When sedentary men were compared to moderately active men, the latter saw a reduction in deaths from all causes by 58 percent and an increased life expectancy of six years.[18]

Cooper then lists various other studies that show the numerous benefits of aerobic activity. Here are some of them:

·      Lowers the risk for stroke by 27 percent

·      Reduces the incident of diabetes by approximately 50 percent.

·      Reduces the incident of high blood pressure by approximately 40 percent.

·      Can reduce mortality and the risk for recurrent breast cancer by approximately 50 percent.

·      Can lower the risk for colon cancer by more than 60 percent.

·      Cana reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by approximately 40 percent.[19]

All of us would agree that statistics like this are very impressive, ones that we must not overlook. We must also bear in mind that if one were to combine physical activity with other components of health (especially good nutrition), the results would probably be even greater.

Cooper points out that “there is a long list of benefits including the lungs, heart, and cardiovascular system all working more efficiently.” He continues, “People who are aerobically fit (and most do take vitamin supplements) have increased immunity from upper respiratory infection and colds.”[20]

Physical Activity

Finally, it would be informative to list “the body’s top 10 benefits of aerobic exercise,” according to Cooper and his clinic. Here they are:

    1.         More efficient functioning of the lungs.

    2.         A more efficient and functioning heart.

    3.         Development of new blood vessels in response to aerobic-type activities.

    4.         Blood volume tends to increase, particularly the amount of hemoglobin and red blood cells.

    5.         A change in metabolism, to the extent you can consume more calories without gaining weight.

    6.         Protection against osteoiporosis.

    7.         Protection against diabetes.

    8.         There may be a decrease in body weight.

    9.         Positive cholesterol effects.

 10.         Aerobic activity has a relaxing effect on the digestive system, decreasing the likelihood of peptic ulcers or esophageal reflux.

Hopefully, you can see that this type of information has a much more important effect on your life than watching the foolishness and carnality of television. Eliminate the television (which has been called the “hellivision”) and get moving, just as we are learning in the above section on Kenneth Cooper as well as the remainder of this book.

Let’s Hear from Mayo Clinic 

In an article entitled, “Exercise: 7 Benefits of Regular Physical Activity,” Mayo clinic offers a number of simple benefits to exercise. They are not dealing with the deeper benefits but the more popular positives that would appeal to many people. Here is what they say:

You know exercise is good for you, but do you know how good? From boosting your mood to improving your sex life, find out how exercise can improve your life.

Want to feel better, have more energy and perhaps even live longer? Look no further than exercise. The health benefits of regular exercise and physical activity are hard to ignore. And the benefits of exercise are yours for the taking, regardless of your age, sex or physical ability. Need more convincing to exercise? Check out these seven ways exercise can improve your life.

No. 1: Exercise controls weight

Exercise can help prevent excess weight gain or help maintain weight loss. When you engage in physical activity, you burn calories. The more intense the activity, the more calories you burn. You don’t need to set aside large chunks of time for exercise to reap weight-loss benefits. If you can’t do an actual workout, get more active throughout the day in simple ways–by taking the stairs instead of the elevator or revving up your household chores.

No. 2: Exercise combats health conditions and diseases

Worried about heart disease? Hoping to prevent high blood pressure? No matter what your current weight, being active boosts high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or “good,” cholesterol and decreases unhealthy triglycerides. This one-two punch keeps your blood flowing smoothly, which decreases your risk of cardiovascular diseases. In fact, regular physical activity can help you prevent or manage a wide range of health problems and concerns, including stroke, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, depression, certain types of cancer, arthritis and falls.

No. 3: Exercise improves mood

Need an emotional lift? Or need to blow off some steam after a stressful day? A workout at the gym or a brisk 30-minute walk can help. Physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals that may leave you feeling happier and more relaxed. You may also feel better about your appearance and yourself when you exercise regularly, which can boost your confidence and improve your self-esteem.

No. 4: Exercise boosts energy

Winded by grocery shopping or household chores? Regular physical activity can improve your muscle strength and boost your endurance. Exercise and physical activity deliver oxygen and nutrients to your tissues and help your cardiovascular system work more efficiently. And when your heart and lungs work more efficiently, you have more energy to go about your daily chores.

No. 5: Exercise promotes better sleep

Struggling to fall asleep? Or to stay asleep? Regular physical activity can help you fall asleep faster and deepen your sleep. Just don’t exercise too close to bedtime, or you may be too energized to fall asleep.

No. 6: Exercise puts the spark back into your sex life

Do you feel too tired or too out of shape to enjoy physical intimacy? Regular physical activity can leave you feeling energized and looking better, which may have a positive effect on your sex life. But there’s more to it than that. Regular physical activity can lead to enhanced arousal for women. And men who exercise regularly are less likely to have problems with erectile dysfunction than are men who don’t exercise.

No. 7: Exercise can be fun

Exercise and physical activity can be a fun way to spend some time. It gives you a chance to unwind, enjoy the outdoors or simply engage in activities that make you happy. Physical activity can also help you connect with family or friends in a fun social setting. So, take a dance class, hit the hiking trails or join a soccer team. Find a physical activity you enjoy, and just do it. If you get bored, try something new.

The bottom line on exercise

Exercise and physical activity are a great way to feel better, gain health benefits and have fun. As a general goal, aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day. If you want to lose weight or meet specific fitness goals, you may need to exercise more. Remember to check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program, especially if you haven’t exercised for a long time, have chronic health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes or arthritis, or you have any concerns.

mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/ fitness/in-depth/exercise/art-20048389?pg=2

Let’s Hear from Harvard University

While we can’t just accept everything that Harvard tells us, this institution does have some helpful advice on exercise.  Although we can’t include a complete article on exercise from this source (check the original source in the Endnotes), we’d like to carry the first two sections:

Although there are no sure-fire recipes for good health, the mixture of healthy eating and regular exercise comes awfully close. Most of The Nutrition Source is dedicated to singing the praises of a good diet. This is where physical activity gets its due.

Regular exercise or physical activity helps many of the body’s systems function better, keeps heart disease, diabetes, and a host of other diseases at bay, and is a key ingredient for losing weight. According to the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, (1) being physically active on a regular basis

•         Improves your chances of living longer and living healthier

•         Helps protect you from developing heart disease and stroke or its precursors, high blood pressure and undesirable blood lipid patterns

•         Helps protect you from developing certain cancers, including colon and breast cancer, and possibly lung and endometrial (uterine lining) cancer

•         Helps prevent type 2 diabetes (what was once called adult-onset diabetes) and metabolic syndrome (a constellation of risk factors that increases the chances of developing heart disease and diabetes; read more about simple steps to prevent diabetes)

•         Helps prevent the insidious loss of bone known as osteoporosis

•         Reduces the risk of falling and improves cognitive function among older adults

•         Relieves symptoms of depression and anxiety and improves mood

•         Prevents weight gain, promotes weight loss (when combined with a lower-calorie diet), and helps keep weight off after weight loss

•         Improves heart-lung and muscle fitness

•         Improves sleep

The Cost of Inactivity 

 If exercise and regular physical activity benefit the body, a sedentary lifestyle does the opposite, increasing the chances of becoming overweight and developing a number of chronic diseases. Despite all the good things going for it, only about 30 percent of adult Americans report they get regular physical activity during their leisure time—and about 40 percent of Americans say they get no leisure-time physical activity at all.

Studies  that measure people’s physical activity using special motion sensors (called accelerometers) suggest that self-reports of physical activity probably are over-estimated. According to analyses by a team from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention, inactivity was associated with more than 9 million cases of cardiovascular disease in 2001, at an estimated direct medical cost of nearly $24 billion. Another CDC analysis suggests that because individuals who are physically active have significantly lower annual direct medical costs than those who are inactive, getting people to become more active could cut yearly medical costs in the U.S. by more than $70 billion.

Being a “couch potato” may be harmful even for people who get regular exercise. The Nurses’ Health Study, for example, is one of many, many studies to find a strong link between television watching and obesity. Researchers followed more than 50,000 middle-aged women for six years, surveying their diet and activity habits. They found that for every two hours the women spent watching television each day, they had a 23 percent higher risk of becoming obese and 14 percent higher risk of developing diabetes. Interestingly, it didn’t matter if the women were avid exercisers: The more television they watched, the more likely they were to gain weight or develop diabetes, regardless of how much leisure-time activity and walking they did. Long hours of sitting at work also increased the risk of obesity and diabetes.

More recently, studies have found that people who spend more time each day watching television, sitting, or riding in cars  have a greater chance of dying early than people who spend less time on their duffs.  Researchers speculate that sitting for hours on end may change peoples’ metabolism in ways that promote obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic conditions. It is also possible that sitting is a marker for a broader sedentary lifestyle.

In sum, a morning jog or brisk lunchtime walk brings many health benefits—but these may not entirely make up for a day spent in front of the computer or an evening in front of the television set. So as you plan your daily activity routine, remember that cutting down on “sit time” may be just as important as increasing “fit time.”[21]

Biblical Activity 

Physical Activity

The Israelites before the time of Christ generally were not at all interested in organized sports and neither were the followers of Christ.[22] However, people in Biblical times–whether in the Old Testament or New—often obtained great amounts of physical activity. Here are a few examples that come to mind:

·      Noah and his sons took decades to build a massive ark or barge (some 450 feet long). This must have required massive physical exertion (Genesis 6).

·      Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were nomadic people who lived in tents while they tended their flocks and herds. This must have required a lot of walking and climbing.

·      Moses worked as a shepherd for 40 years, and later he and the Israelites wandered in the desert of Sinai for 40 years. This would have required physical exertion.

·      Elijah the prophet must have been in good physical condition, considering his running long distances (1 Kings 19:1-8).

·      David was a shepherd as a boy and then became a fugitive in the wilderness, both of which must have required physical stamina.

·      Peter, Andrew, James, and John were fishermen, an activity that would have required massive amounts of energy and activity (Matthew 4:18-22; John 21:1-8).

·      Paul traveled for years in his outreach activities, extending from Syria to Macedonia and Greece. This must have required a great amount of physical activity (2 Corinthians 12:23-27).

·      Jesus Christ our Lord spent most of His earthly life as a carpenter. Carpentry in those days required not only woodwork but also masonry. All of this must have meant that our Lord received much regular physical exercise (Matthew 13:55; Mark 6:3). He also walked long distances in his preaching and teaching tours.

We must conclude that even though Biblical characters were not involved in organized sports or athletics, their everyday occupations and way of life required much more physical activity than sedentary workers in our day. Although it must have been true that the ancients were not as much aware of the health benefits of physical exercise, the result was the same.

What Does the Bible Say about Physical Activity? 

The scriptures major on the spiritual–who God is, who Christ is, salvation from sin, heaven and hell, how to live to please God, how to love God and love each other. However, the Word of God has been given so that “the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:17). We can glean bits of truth and counsel that will help us and stimulate us to be physically active for the benefit of our health.

      1.    Work hard and avoid laziness

Paul the apostle commands some in his day, “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men” (Colossians 3:23). Evidently heeding this counsel would result in a great amount of physical activity. The same apostle wrote, “. . . not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord” (Romans 12:11). Although directed to service for the Lord, the principle would be applicable to physical matters as well.

Proverbs has much to say about the dangers of laziness or slothfulness. “Like vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes, so is the lazy one to those who send him (10:26). Have you ever seen a lazy ant? No, for we have this instruction: Go the ant, O sluggard, observe her ways and be wise (6:6). In other words, be busy as an ant! Based on this, Solomon continues, “How long will you lie down, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep? (v. 9). Notice this final one: “As the door turns on its hinges, so does the sluggard on his bed” (26:14; cf. 20:4). Thus, be willing to renounce slothful living and begin to live with the energy God has given to you.

2.    Remember who owns your body

One of the chief lies that people believe has to do with the ownership of their body. We think and act like we (personally) own our body and can do anything that we want with our body. This false and self-centered philosophy must be exposed as a lie of the enemy. Paul explains this well in 1 Corinthians 6:12-20 as he applies the truth to the matter of purity and immorality. But some of what he writes can be applied to treatment of our physical body.

Notice this basic passage: “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Did you notice these facts: (1) If you are a Christian, your body is the temple (or house) of the Holy Spirit. (2) We do not belong to ourselves–but to Christ. (3) Christ bought our body with His own blood. (4) Therefore, we are to glorify God in the use of our body. This should give us powerful incentives to treat our body with respect and attempt to use it only for Godly purposes to further the purposes of God on earth. This would include treating our body with respect in regard to diet, exercise, sleep, and so forth.

3.    Your body is a sacrifice to God

Although we don’t offer animal sacrifices to God today as was required before the time of Moses as well as during the time of the Law, we do have other sacrifices to offer to the Lord.  Paul mentioned one of these in Romans 12:1:  “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” Would God consider the way you use your body to be a pleasing sacrifice to Him? Or would He say that you are using your body in a selfish, self-centered way? We should want to offer a sacrifice of good health to the Lord, if He permits this to be done.

4.    Be diligent in your labors

Diligence is a quality mentioned a number of times in the New Testament. It is quite closely related to the previous point.  The Hebrew writer says that we are to be diligent or active (6:11 and Romans 12:11). A diligent person will not sit around with nothing to do but will be active in whatever needs to be done. In the present context, this would include physical activity for our health.

5.    Use your time well

One of the reasons why people avoid exercise or physical activity is the lack of time. We realize that there are good and beneficial activities that need to be done, including our employment, raising our children, blessing our spouse, edifying brothers and sisters in the Lord, and reaching the lost. We must be active in reading and studying Scripture, meeting with the saints, keeping the house in good repair, teaching the children in home schooling, and maybe planting a garden. We could keep busy for 24 hours a day!

On the other hand, generally we can also obtain at least some physical exercise regularly. We may be able to become involved in this along with the spouse and children. Or we may be able to do such things as listen to the Scripture, memorize verses, or listen to teaching CDs while we exercise. Paul says, “‘Awake sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.’ Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:14-16). The object is to “make the most of our time” in light of God’s purposes for your life.

6.    Always give the priority to spiritual growth and activity

There are some men and women who give the priority to their physical health. While we would agree that this is extremely important in our pursuit of fitness, we must always bear in mind what is of ultimate concern. Paul puts it this way: “Bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come” (1 Timothy 4:8). The apostle tells us that the physical is only of “little profit” while the pursuit of godliness is of much greater priority.

7.    Beware that you don’t fall into sports idolatry

Some may look at others who use images (e.g., Hindus, Buddhists, Catholics) and assume that while they could be considered “idolaters,” somehow we are exempt from such a charge. No, idolatry comes in various forms. One of the most popular forms in America (and many other countries) would be the “idol” of sports or athletics.[23] Therefore, as you seek to participate in healthful physical activity, we urge you not to use sports as your means of activity. Find one of the many other forms of exercise that will give benefit to your body.

8.    Beware of being absolutely passive

It may be that someone thinks that if he engages in strenuous physical activity for an hour a day, this is all there is to it. It may be surprising to some to learn what modern researchers have discovering. They have found that sitting absolutely still or being physically passive for hour after hour can result in serious health compromises. This is why they recommend simply getting up and walking around for a minute or two every 20 to 30 minutes through the day. Or one could do some basic calisthenics for a minute or two through the day. Thus, even though you may exercise strenuously for an hour in the morning, be active sporadically through your day.

9.    Find ways to enhance your exercise experience

People have used different means to encourage physical activity.  Some listen to the recorded New Testament as they walk or run. This has the benefit of doing two positive activities at the same time, plus it makes the physical exercise much easier. Other people have chosen a companion to share accountability in the matter of exercise. This can be helpful if you know of someone close and compatible. We would caution you, however, to choose such a person well for we are not to have close fellowship with unbelievers who could pull us down spiritually (2 Corinthians 6:14-15) or lead us astray (Proverbs 22:24-25; 1 Corinthians 15:33).

10. Be careful of the spiritual atmosphere of your exercise experience

Some people choose a location for physical activity that could compromise one’s spiritual life and influence.  For example, one may find that the popular fitness centers in the city provide temptations we need to avoid. In such a location, it may be that most of the exercisers wear immodest clothes that reveal much or most of their body. The immodesty can be devastating to one’s spirituality and sense of holiness (see Matthew 5:27-30). Or you, personally, may be tempted to wear immodest clothes while you exercise. Or there may be loud worldly music playing in the background that you will want to avoid. Some people have gone to the beach or swimming pools, and there one is always “asking for trouble” because of the compromising situation.

11. Bear in mind the purpose of your physical activity

We have discussed this thoroughly enough, but it is often easy to forget the real reason why we exercise.  We don’t exercise to win an award for our efforts. We don’t run races to obtain a prize. We don’t participate to achieve the admiration of other people. We don’t exercise to lose weight so others will admire our attractiveness.

Rather, as in all of life, we do what we do to glorify God. “Whether, then you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). “Glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:20). Keep this purpose in the forefront in all you do, from day to day, and apply it directly to your physical activity.

There would be many other principles that you can apply to this important matter of physical activity. Keep your mind active as you think through the purpose of your activity and how you can please God in it.

Remember that there are several components to healthy living

It is true that we have focused on physical exercise here, but there are many other parts to healthy living. Here are a few of them:

1.    Good nutrition. We have discussed this in other literature, but it is an absolutely indispensible part of good health.[24]

2.    Sufficient rest and sleep. Sleep is not an optional activity and it is not a waste of time. It is true that millions of people oversleep because of laziness, but we do need some amount (some suggesting between six and eight hours a night).

3.    Clean, refreshing water. Try to drink about eight glasses of water a day (between six and ten).

4.    Fresh air and sunshine. We know that in our age, we need to avoid air pollution and must beware of skin cancer, but we do need air and sunshine for healthful lungs and sufficient Vitamin D.

5.    Avoidance of harmful substances. This would include such things as tobacco and marijuana. It would include drugs. It would include poisons. All of this can compromise our health.[25]

6.    Beware of falling into the medicine trap. We are aware that many people do need certain medications for their physical issues, but some people take 8, 10, 15, or more medications each day! Ask your prevention-oriented doctor for an evaluation of all the drugs that you are consuming and ask what can be done to decrease the drug use.

7.    Get to know a nutrition oriented, exercise oriented preventive physician. Not all doctors are knowledgeable in the nutritional field or aspects of exercise, thus do research until you find the best doctor in your area. Then regularly consult with him on your health-illness needs.

8.    A tranquil mental attitude. Emotional stress can make compromises to our physical health, by raising the blood pressure and giving a feeling of unwellness.

Recommendations

Apart from the various limitations that may be yours, this study of physical activity has revealed a number of important points and given us many words of counsel to live a healthy life through exercise. With this background, we can arrive at these suggestions:

1.    Develop a motivation to be physically fit by reading the contents of this study frequently. You will gain both knowledge as well as increase your motivation.

2.    Read books and articles that inform and stimulate you so that you understand the basics of physical exercise and perhaps read testimonies of those who have been blessed in this means.

3.    Consult with your health professional to determine the condition of your heart and other aspects of your physical health, particularly if you are older in years and haven’t exercised for decades.

4.    Discuss your plans with your family and seek their support, cooperation, and even participation.

5.    Plan your strategy, collect any special clothes, find a location, and determine what time of the day would be best for you to exercise (e.g., shoes would be important in walking or jogging).

6.    Prepare any supplemental materials for your exercise. For example, if walking, obtain a CD player, edifying CDs, cards with Bible verses, etc.

7.    Exercise long enough and frequently enough to attain a training effect. Generally the rule is to exercise for at least 30 minutes a day, but 60 minutes a day may be better, if possible. (But only gradually increase time and intensity to prevent injuries.)

8.    One alternative would be early morning.  Researchers have discovered that those who exercise before the day’s activities are more likely to continue. Another alternative may be after work and before dinner, or maybe during your lunch hour. (This will be determined by your family responsibilities and especially your desire to spend time in prayer and Bible reading.)

9.    Remember that exercise is only one component of good health. Nutrition would be yet another, along with various others.

10. You may want to help motivate yourself by keeping a record of your exercise–the place, the time, the exercise, and a description. You can monitor your pulse and blood pressure as well.

11. If you would rather not exercise alone, you may want to enlist the companionship of a friend, providing the person is a wholesome person who would positively influence you.

12. Practice perseverance. Don’t give up. It may take 3-6 weeks to develop a new habit of physical activity. After that, exercise will become much easier.

13. If you are injured, we willing to discontinue exercising until complete healing takes place. Consult a specialist if it is a major problem.

With all of these points in mind, we believe that you will be able to begin and continue this new way of life and thereby partake in a practice that nearly all physiologists recommend for physical wellbeing.

Recognize that God has given you a precious possession when He gave you your body (Psalm 139:14), and He expects you to fulfill this responsibly each day. May God bless you as you seek to glorify Him in your body (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) and be a good steward of your physical health (1 Corinthians 4:2). In all that you do, do everything for the glory of God your Creator (1 Corinthians 10:31). And lastly, remember to always make God and His will your priority in life—not physical fitness (Colossians 1:18; Matthew 6:33).

Additional Information

We have quoted a number of articles earlier in our discussion on physical health, but let’s add several more direct quotations that will help to explain the reasons why this matter must be important to all of our readers. We’ll offer these excerpts from a variety of sources, and won’t be commenting directly on any of them.

·      “Physical activity. Aside from all the health benefits for your body, regular exercise seems to improve emotional health, too. Its regularly recommended to people as a way to help prevent or treat depression” (United Healthcare bulletin).

·      “Exercise is one of the best ways to chill out. A university of Southern California study found that when participants took a vigorous walk around a track, they reduced tension in their bodies by 20 percent.”[26]

·      “Walking or running–any exercise in an upright position–is more effective for bone than swimming. They’re all great exercises for muscle, but the ones that put a load on bones are better for the skeleton.”[27]

·      “‘Long periods of sitting cannot be compensated for with occasional leisure time physical activity,’ says Katzmarzyk. ‘If you’re active for just 30 minutes a day, how is that supposed to wipe out all the other hours of sitting?’ What’s so bad bout sitting?

“‘Muscles seem to be extremely inactive while sitting, and this may change the way they metabolize compounds and may affect the regulation of insulin and glucose,’ says Karzmarzyk. ‘Just getting people to stand up changes the physiology in their limbs.’

“His advice: ‘Stand up, walk around, do anything like that to encourage blood flow and increase the muscle activity in the lower limbs. Two of my colleagues here have treadmill desks, or they stand during meetings, or they’ll take a meeting outside and walk rather than sit.”[28]

·      “Type 2 diabetics reap major benefits from that 150 minutes, but they will get even more if they can gradually work up to 300 minutes a week. That’s still less than 45 minutes a day. Additional exercise yields more benefits for the rest of us, too, especially those who are trying to keep their weight under control. A study published last summer found that women who were able to keep off 10 percent of their body weight over two years exercised about 275 minutes a week–about 40 minutes of moderate exercise every day.”[29]

·      “Exercise, for your brain. Physical activity improves brain function in the same regions adversely affected by stress and lack of sleep. A 2003 review of 43 studies found that a single bout of moderate aerobic exercise temporarily improved executive function, or the ability to plan and carry out tasks quickly and efficiently. Another analysis, which combined the results of 18 studies, found that regular exercise yielded more long-term improvements in executive function among previously sedentary older adults. Exercise increases blood circulation to the brain and enhances neural activity.”[30]

·      “‘Being overweight or obese is clearly associated with colorectal cancer, and a larger waist circumference also increases the risk,’ says Marjorie McCullough, director of nutritional epidemiology at the American Cancer Society. And in the NIH-AARP study of roughly half a million people, men and woman who did moderate to vigorous exercise at least five times a week had an 18 percent lower risk of colon cancer than those who did little or no exercise.”[31]

·      “We walk, run, and swim for health reasons. But a well-rounded exercise program needs to include strength training, too. Exercise is on every to-do list for staying healthy, and there’s pretty wide agreement on how much is necessary. The physical activity guidelines issued in 2008 by the federal government echoes other guidelines by recommending that American adults get at least 2 ½ hours of moderate intensity aerobic exercise a week. Aerobic exercise is any repeated motion that increases your heart and breathing rates so that more oxygen reaches your muscles.

“Walking at a fast pace of three to four miles per hour (three is brisk; four can feel downright fast) is often held up as the beau ideal or moderate intensity. . . . Given the multiple benefits—the lowering of the risk of heart attack, stroke and diabetes; protection against some forms of cancer (notably colon cancer); deflection of depression; important assistance in weight control–could there be a more effective medicine?”[32]

·      “People who are physically fit at midlife appear to be much less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia than those who were less fit, according to a study conducted at the Cooper Institute in Dallas. You still have time to get serious: Recent research in the British Medical Journal found that even people 75 or older could boost their life expectancy by five to six years if they started to exercise more.”[33]

·      “Now, emerging science is telling us that weight, diet and exercise play a crucial role in protecting us against cancer, too. Indeed, there are lifestyle changes we have the power to make that will improve our odds against this disease, researchers say. ‘We know that we can prevent about a third of all cancers if people would maintain a healthy weight, eat a plant-based diet and be physically active,’ says Alice Bender, a registered dietitian with the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR).”[34]

·      “’People who don’t smoke, who are not overweight, who don’t drink alcohol in excess, who exercise regularly, and who eat a healthy diet have about an 80 percent lower risk of a first stroke,’ explains Goldstein. ‘And the risk decreases for each of those lifestyle habits.’”[35]

·      “Endorphins, or feel-good chemicals released during exercise, can counteract adrenaline’s negative effects when you’re feeling stressed. ‘It’s like a spa for the heart,’ Stevens says, since endorphins relax muscles and dilate vessels. And there’s evidence that people who get regular aerobic exercise have lower levels of stress hormones and experience smaller increases in heart rate and blood pressure under stressful conditions.”[36]

·      “Strength training helps prevent muscle loss as you age. But if you’re overweight and only able to do one kind of exercise, go for aerobic. It’s most likely to curb the insulin resistance that boosts the risk of heart disease and diabetes.”[37]

·      “’there are about 191 things that go into calculating your real age,’ he says, ‘and 149 of those things are within your control to change.’ You can, for example, quit smoking, cultivate strong social support, get regular exercise, and eat right.”[38]

·      . . . lowering excess blood sugar levels through exercise and diet—even if you’re not diabetic—could help you maintain your memory. . . . PAD [peripheral artery disease] can’t be undone, but it doesn’t have to get worse—and its deadliest complications are preventable. A more healthful diet can improve blood pressure and insulin levels. So can exercise, which has been linked to lowered rates of cardiovascular death in PAD patients.”[39]

·      “The best brain-saving strategy is physical exercise. People who are active do better on tests of executive control, which is involved in scheduling, planning, and memory. And active adults are also less likely to have Alzheimer’s in old age.”[40]

·      “The tool that everyone agrees works to shore up muscles: an exercise habit, preferably a lifelong one. That means an aerobic fitness routine—like a 30-minute walk every day—to help keep muscle tissue health. And it means a basic strength-training program.”[41]

Endnotes


[1] yourdictionary.com/sedentary

[2] vocabulary.com/dictionary/sedentary

[3] oxforddictionaries.com/us/definition/american_english/sedentary

[4] thefreedictionary.com/couch+potato

[5] en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sedentary_lifestyle

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Physical_exercise

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Ibid.

[16] Ibid.

[17] Why I Don’t Eat Junk Foods, pp. 42-46.

[18] “The Value of Exercise,” Cooper Health, Summer 2010.

[19] Ibid.

[20] Ibid.

[21] hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/staying-active-full-story/

[22] We have documented this in our book, The Question of Sports (Rod and Staff Publishers).

[23] See our book, The Question of Sports, for a thorough discussion of this question.

[24] See Why I Don’’t Eat Junk Foods and  Do You Really Want that Coke?

[25] See Tobacco: What Does the Bible Say?

[26] msn.com/en-us/health/medical/secrets-of –people-who-never-get sick.

[27] “Breaking Bad,” Nutrition Action Healthletter, December 2014.

[28] David Schardt, “Seven Facts You may not Know about Exercise,” Nutrition Action Healthletter, December, 2009, p. 10.

[29] Katherine Hobson, “Take Your Mark, Get Set, Go. Here’s What You Need to Do to Get Fit,” U. S. News & World Report, February 2009, p. 82.

[30] “Clearing Away Brain Fog,” Consumer Reports on Health, Volume 20, Number 3, p. 5.

[31] Bonnie Liebman, “Cancer: How to Lower Your Risk,” Nutrition Action Health Letter, January/February 2012, pp. 3-4.

[32] “Can Resistance Training Stop Aging?, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, August 29, 2009.

[33] “How Healthy Are You?” Consumer Reports on Health, Volume 25, Number 6; June 2013; p. 5.

[34] Elizabeth Agnvall, “Eat to Prevent Cancer,” AARP.org/Bulletin, December 2012, p. 12.

[35] Bonnie Liebman, “A Strike Against Stroke, “ Nutrition Action Health Letter, November, 2012, p. 4.

[36] “Is Stress Making You Sick,” Consumer Reports on Health, October 2012, p. 5.

[37] “Exercise Run-Off,” Nutrition Action HealthLetter, june 2012, p. 8.

[38] Michael Roizen (Cleveland Clinic), ”Younger Than Your Years,” U. S. News & World Report, February 1009.

[39] “Younger Than Your Years,” U. S. News  World Report, February, p. 68.

[40] Ibid.

[41] Ibid, p. 71.

Comments are closed.

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