Living the ZONE: Physical I

Early morning choices

The alarm clock shrieks rudely next to my ear!  I open a bleary eye and hear the familiar sound of the drizzle of rain on the windows.  It is six thirty AM and it’s as dark as midnight outside.  It would be just so easy to turn off the bloody alarm and just go back to sleep cuddled up in my warm duvet for another hour.

Yet, something gets me to lift that duvet cover just a little and slide a leg into the cold air, stand up and get my tracksuit and tackies on, get out of the house and get walking or jogging.  I hate the first few minutes with a passion; I feel my age as it takes longer to warm-up, get the joints lubricated and settle into a rhythm.

But soon, I start feeling that old familiar friend, I feel content, I feel warm, I feel strong and mostly, I feel happy to be alive.  I know, the endorphins, the feel good hormones of the body have started to kick in.  I have started to once again realize the upside of my difficult morning ritual.  I know that in thirty minutes time I will have banked enough exercise time so that I am set for the day ahead, with a clear mind and peaceful soul.

Over the last decade, an increasing body of literature has emerged which has shown the proof of the pudding: exercise is good, nay great for humans!  We have to move as often and as quick as you feel comfortable, and if you choose not to, the do so at your peril!

Proven benefits of exercise include

  • Increased body strength and endurance leading to improved ability of physical functioning in everyday activities
  • Decreased body fat
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Improved blood fats (cholesterol)
  • Improved bone mineral density
  • Increased sensitivity to your own insulin; important in regulation your blood sugar
  • Decreased incidence of chronic disease particularly cardiac, diabetes, cancer and lung disease
  • Improved mental function

Now, these benefits have been proven, done and dusted!  If you were to take a medication to induce these changes listed above, how much would you expect to pay?  R300 per month (cost of a lipid lowering drug) R150 per month (cost of a blood pressure lowering drug) R220 per month (cost of an anti-depressant……I could go on. The point is that if you could formulate exercise into a tablet and bottle and market it, you would have a blockbuster drug!  And I have not even started to discuss differences in side-effect profiles.

Best of all…to take this wonder-drug costs very little.  Perhaps it is due to this very point that we do not value it as we should.  Unfortunately the majority of us do not get sufficient exercise, and this sad fact remains the subject of present day research into our behaviour patterns.

So my message and call to arms is simple:

Take a decision to take some exercise each day, you can’t afford not to.

So…if the dark and the rain and the cold air of winter do get the better of you, and you choose to slide that leg back under the duvet and press the snooze button on the alarm clock, that’s fine!  Don’t beat yourself up.  But don’t forget to take a dose of the wonder drug at another occasion on that same day.  You will be glad you did…

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