(Adapted from Dr. Haas’ upcoming book, Staying Healthy with NEW Medicine)
We are designed to move, lift, swing and stretch. Exercise, in its varied forms, stimulates metabolism, circulation, oxygenation, lymphatic activity, and neurological function; strengthens our immune system; reduces stress; lessens inflammation, and with endorphin enhancement, exercise improves our overall attitude. A consistent program of balanced exercise supports the body and helps prevent or improve so many health issues. Depression is one example where regular exercise often helps, by improving mood and energy, reducing anxiety and promoting better sleep.A Balanced Fitness Program Includes:
- Some exercise daily — with a goal of 7–10 hours of physical activity each week
- Stretching — for flexibility, also good before and after aerobics and/or weights
- Aerobic activity — running, hiking, biking, or swimming, for endurance, cardiovascular health and detoxification (sweating)
- Toning — using weights or resistance exercises, for strength and muscle mass
- Energy balancing — yoga, qigong, and Tai Chi (especially helpful for elders)
- Mood enhancing — dance and all aerobics support the feel good “endorphins”
Even with physical limitations, do what you can, from isometrics to using a stretch band, or even stretching or yoga in a chair. You can also do deep breathing along with tightening and relaxing muscles while sitting or working at your computer. Remember, if you aren’t already exercising regularly, have a physical exam before you begin and build your endurance at a healthy pace.
My attitude is (and it could be yours, too): “This is the only body I have and I am going to treat it with love.” Once we develop this approach, giving our body some vitamin L (Love), we develop an internal commitment to being healthy. With this essential feeling of body respect and love, we will often tend to eat better, exercise more regularly, learn to manage stress more effectively and take better overall care of ourselves.
The Best Exercise ProgramEvaluate Your Exercise Program
“Do you know what your best exercise is?” Many will answer, “walking” or “swimming.” The BEST exercise program is “the one that you’ll do.” I find when people are given suggestions that are beyond their ability to enact, they won’t do anything. Of course, there are many aspects in regard to healthy exercise to support the body and avoid injury. We could also say this about dietary changes and the individuality of what we choose to eat.
- Do you enjoy exercise?
- Which activities do you like most?
- Do you exercise daily? If not, how often?
- How many hours of exercise do you average weekly?
- Do you dislike exercise and find it hard to pick something that motivates you?
- Do you stretch daily?
- Do you run or engage in other active aerobic activity?
- Do you lift weights or do other strength and muscle development activities?
- Do you like to go to a gym, or do you prefer to be on your own?
- Do you like team activities?
- Have you been accused of being an exercise fanatic or exercising too much?
- Have you injured yourself from any of your exercise activities?
- Do you sense that exercise is helpful for your long-term health?
- What can you do to improve or enhance your overall fitness program?
The benefits of staying fit can last a lifetime. It’s part of my Healthy Aging program. The difference in how we feel from staying fit has to do with our life attitude and vitality. So much of our health is up to each of us. How we live matters and we are totally worth it!
Elson M. Haas, MD
Elson M. Haas, MD is a medical practitioner with nearly 40 years experience in patient care, always with in an interest in natural medicine. For the past 30 years, he has been instrumental in the development and practice of Integrated Medicine at the Preventive Medical Center of Marin (PMCM), which he founded in 1984 and where he is the Medical Director. Dr Haas has been perfecting a model of healthcare that integrates sophisticated Western diagnostics and Family Medicine with time-honored natural therapies from around the world.
This educating, writing doctor is also the author of many books including Staying Healthy with Nutrition: The Complete Guide to Diet and Nutritional Medicine, 21st Century Edition, The NEW Detox Diet: The Complete Guide for Lifelong Vitality with Recipes, Menus, & Detox Plans and more. His latest book is Staying Healthy with NEW Medicine which integrates Natural, Eastern, and Western Approaches for Optimal Health. Visit his website for more information on his work, books and to sign up for his newsletter.