Practicing advice from these fitness experts can help keep your body moving longer.
By Wayne and Dahelia Hunt, F235156
This observation from Hippocrates (circa 460-circa 377 B.C.), the father of medicine, indicates that a long, healthful, productive life requires only a moderation of effort.
Unfortunately, when we were 18, many of us were hard-pressed to even consider Hippocrates’ ideas. Between the ages of 35 and 50, we were really cranking along with our life in high gear, and our goals were being attained.
By age 50, “the youth of old age,” experience and wisdom start to kick in. Hippocrates begins to make sense. If our minds don’t recognize our true physical health, our bodies start explaining it to us in terms we must understand. Everyday chores and things we want to do become more difficult to accomplish. It takes longer to recover from the previous day’s exertion.
Many of us respond by adapting. We slow down to stay within our comfort zone. We adjust our thinking to reflect new physical expectations.
So, what now? Should we give up or search for a miraculous cure? No. We need to get moving, and now is the time to get started. Use your wisdom, use your experience, and learn new skills. Take control. Direct your steps. As inspirational speaker W. Mitchell wrote, “Do what you can with what you have, where you are. Take responsibility for change.”
Cardiovascular Studies Favor Exercise
In the medical community, one of the most renowned studies of heart disease to date is the Framingham Heart Study, which began in 1948. The study is still under way today. Many recommendations you hear or read that refer to diet, exercise, blood pressure, and so forth are based on statistical data from the Framingham Heart Study.
The study originally included 5,209 men and women aged 30 to 62 who lived in Framingham, Massachusetts. The youngest in that group of original participants is now 84 years old. The study did not stop as participants passed away; instead, it was expanded to include the original group’s adult children and their spouses, and now it has begun to include the grandchildren of the original participants.
Researchers in the Framingham Heart Study have focused on the causes of cardiovascular disease, heart attack, and stroke. Over the years, some of the study’s most significant milestones include:
1960: Cigarette smoking found to increase the risk of heart disease.
1961: Cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and electrocardiogram abnormalities found to increase the risk of heart disease.
1967: Physical activity found to reduce the risk of heart disease; obesity found to increase the risk of heart disease.
1970: High blood pressure found to increase the risk of stroke.
1976: Menopause found to increase the risk of heart disease.
1978: Psychosocial factors found to affect heart disease.
1988: High levels of HDL cholesterol found to reduce the risk of death.
1994: Enlarged left ventricle (one of the two lower chambers of the heart) shown to increase the risk of stroke.
1996: Progression from hypertension to heart failure described.
Some of the major risk factors for cardiovascular disease are cigarette smoking; a resting blood pressure greater than 140/90; EKG abnormalities, both during rest and exercise; an HDL (high density lipoprotein) cholesterol level of less than 35 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl) with a cardiac risk ratio (total cholesterol divided by HDL) of 4 or greater; menopause; stress; diabetes; and a lack of exercise.
As Hippocrates said, we need to use “all parts of the body … in moderation.”
Any reasonable and moderate exercise program addresses the following components for continued good health and/or regeneration:
- Cardio-respiratory (aerobic) fitness, for the heart and lungs
- Muscle strength
- Flexibility, for the joints
- Body composition (fat percentage)
- Relaxation/psychological, for the mind
Start focusing on these areas, and you’ll begin to recover and get going again. The point is to get off one’s posterior and get the heart pumping. Of course, it would be wise to check with your physician before beginning any new exercise programs.
The Framingham Heart Study indicated that unhealthy people in the population have an activity level similar to that of a rock. Their total daily activity level uses less than 300 calories, or less than 10 minutes of a slow walk, three times per day.
Significant improvements can be achieved in wellness, and medical costs can be lowered even if the “rocks” are converted only to “turtles.” So, moderate exercise, moderate eating, moderate relaxation, and moderate habits are real medicine. As Dr. William J. Bryan wrote, “No pharmacological intervention holds a greater promise of improving health and promoting independence than does exercise.”
The TravelFit Daily Checklist
Following these practices each day will help you to focus on your all-around health:
- Plan your day to be active. Sedentary lives promote illness.
- Think positive. Negative thinking generates psychological stress.
- Drink eight to 10 glasses of water each day. Purified water is best, but tap water will do.
- Take your medications, vitamins, and minerals.
- Eat five to six small-portioned, balanced meals. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper.
- Practice good posture.
- Always make the most healthful choices available at the moment.
- Exercise only on the days you eat.
- Make your doctor be a partner and assistant in your health and wellness program.
- Be personally responsible and accountable for your health and well-being.
Consider The Core Of Your Body
The notion of core strength is currently popular in the fitness world. Basically, the body core is the origin of movement. The muscles around your torso help stabilize your spine, thus enabling you to effectively move your body under a variety of loads. These simple-looking exercises are very tough if done correctly, yet they are incredibly effective in building up your core strength. A healthy core can improve your posture, reduce back pain, and protect you as you perform other exercises and daily living activities.
The following illustrations and explanations are based on credible research accomplished at the San Francisco Spine Institute. Initially, participants were in relatively constant pain. A majority were scheduled for or recommended for spinal surgery. The institute, as a trial, implemented the Dynamic Lumbar Stabilization Program with the patients. The results were very positive. More than 70 percent of the participants no longer needed immediate surgery, and pain reduction occurred across the board. Only 10 percent of the patients still needed surgery after participating in the program. We believe the program is worth the effort. Dynamic Lumbar Stabilization, or DLS, has negligible risk and great potential.
To perform these exercises, follow the photos and instructions. If any movement causes a sharp pain, stop. Always work within your pain-free range of motion. Your muscles will be challenged. The results are amazing — only if you perform the exercises daily.
We will continue to travel in our motorhome and provide tips and exercises such as these at FMCA seminars. Look for us at future international motorhome extravaganzas, or visit our Web site at www.pfit.org. We also offer training schools at various locations around the United States. For more information, phone (800) 899-7348; e-mail [email protected]; or, look for us on the road. We’re the ones with the little blue Amigo car (with a PFIT logo tire cover) that pushes our motorhome!
Remember, do for yourself what you deserve, just for the health of it.
Neutral Spine: Find and practice holding a neutral spine. Rock your hips fully forward, then fully back. Finally, find the neutral place somewhere in the middle. Learn to hold this position whether standing, sitting, or lying down. The entire Dynamic Lumbar Stabilization Program is focused on holding this position while moving your extremities. Each time you pass any object that will reflect your image (a mirror, a window, etc.), practice your neutral spine.
Abdominal Brace with Arms in Motion: While in a supine position (lying down, face up), locate and brace (hold) your neutral spine. While holding your neutral spine, slowly raise one of your arms over your head. Maintain that neutral spine throughout the entire arm motion. Return your arm to your side and slowly raise the other one. Repeat these motions. You are maintaining a proper brace if 20 repetitions feel really tough.
Abdominal Brace with Legs in Motion: While in a supine position with your knees bent, locate and brace (hold) your neutral spine. While holding your neutral spine, slowly raise one foot off the ground. Maintain your neutral spine throughout the entire motion. Return your foot to the ground and slowly raise the other leg. Repeat these motions, moving one arm up and the other arm down simultaneously. You are maintaining a proper brace if 10 repetitions feel really tough.
Crunch: While in a supine position with your knees bent, locate and brace (hold) your neutral spine. While holding your neutral spine, slowly bend your trunk forward as if to slide your ribs on top of your hips. Maintain that neutral spine throughout the entire motion. Slowly return your upper body to the start position. Reset the intensity of your neutral spine brace, then repeat. You are maintaining a proper brace if 10 repetitions feel really tough.
Bridge: While in a supine position with your knees bent, locate and brace (hold) your neutral spine. While holding your neutral spine, slowly raise your entire trunk off the ground. Maintain that neutral spine throughout the entire motion. Hold the trunk up for 15 seconds, then return to the start position. Reset your neutral spine brace, then repeat. You are maintaining a proper brace if 10 repetitions feel really tough.