Big Life with Ray Waters Neal Campbell no

A few years ago I made the decision to get into the best shape of my life. I was 50 years old and had spent 30 years getting heavier and less mobile.  I also had this dream eating at me; I wanted to live a wonderful adventuresome life into my 80’s and 90’s. But, according to my lifestyle, I was not going to be fit for most adventures by the time I reached my 60’s. Something had to change – and gratefully it did. Yesterday, I wrote about my food choices changing. Today, I want to write about the importance of movement and strength training in holding off old age and maintaining good health.

Becoming stronger and more flexible through exercise is about the very best wellness investment that you can make. Sadly, we are a sit on our rear end society.  We are not moving as much as we used to. A hundred years ago we would not even be talking about exercise because our entire day was exercise. Even 50 years ago we moved more. Kids don’t know how easy they have it. I read this recently and I know it is true. When I was young I had to walk through 9 feet of shag carpet to change the tv channel for my dad. 🙂 The problem with this lack of movement is having a huge impact on us physically, emotionally, and relationally.

There’s so much research now showing the benefits of exercise. The American College of Sports Medicine has found that there are over forty chronic conditions that can be either treated or prevented with exercise. It is by far the best medication along with proper nutrition for health.  It’s not only for physical benefits, there’s psychological benefit as well. If you think about it motion impacts emotion and motion affects emotion. If there’s just one reason to do it, it’s to feel better.  I taught my sons this mantra when they were younger. Move a Muscle – Change a Mood.  It is true.

We all want to feel better and there is nothing better than some form of movement to help improve our whole mood.  When you are feeling stressed or blue sometimes simply take a quick walk, get a cup of tea, take a few deep breaths and remember something encouraging that’s true. Then, you can go back to your desk. It’s amazing how you can be calmer and clearer in a very short time.

The University of Missouri did an interesting study. They found that if you sit for longer than three hours at a time it shuts off an enzyme called lipoprotein lipase that actually helps us metabolize fat. So if we’re sitting too long our body is shutting down.  This lets us know we have to figure out ways to move more.Many have figured out it works for them to plan physical exercise each day. But for this to work I believe most of us will do better with an accountability  partner.  There is wisdom in the ancient Book of Ecclesiastes 4:9, “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed.” For me it is critical to have some accountability partners. At 4:00 PM on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday I meet with Conrad and Cowboy, two great guys who have been working out together for years.  Knowing they are expecting me is huge for me. There are days I don’t feel like going, but I know Conrad and Cowboy are going to be there waiting so I put on my workout clothes and head to the gym.

Second, choose an exercise routine that you enjoy.  Some like to walk/run. Others love aerobic classes. I enjoyed for a couple of years doing Kettlebell classes. Some enjoy swimming. Still others enjoy lifting weights. Whatever you like, do it. If you hate a certain type of exercise, then don’t do it. Do something you love. You are far more apt to stay consistent if you like doing whatever it is you commit to doing. Experiment, find out what takes root in you, get a partner and do it. Schedule physical activity for the time of day that fits you best and is most sustainable.  I have friends who love to exercise in the morning. I have friends who love to exercise over their lunch hour because it just works well for them. I have friends who love to exercise in the evening. It doesn’t matter. Find what works best for you.  Put it right on the calendar and then do it.

Practice the “Do something everyday” principle. Take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator. Park far from the door at the store. Stand up more. Take a walk through the neighborhood with your partner or pet after dinner. Hike up a mountain on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Find something to do every day that gets your blood pumping and do it.

Prioritizing nightly rest is essential for optimal living.  Some have serious medical sleep issues. But for most of us, we just don’t think it’s very important. But it really is. We need seven to eight hours of sleep every night.  Sleep is far more important than we think. Consider this from an article in The Institute of Medicine called Sleep Disorders and Sleep Deprivation: An Unmet Public Health Problem:
“Sleep is increasingly recognized as important to public health, with sleep insufficiency linked to motor vehicle crashes, industrial disasters, and medical and other occupational errors. Unintentionally falling asleep, nodding off while driving, and having difficulty performing daily tasks because of sleepiness all may contribute to these hazardous outcomes. Persons experiencing sleep insufficiency are also more likely to suffer from chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, depression, and obesity, as well as from cancer, increased mortality, and reduced quality of life and productivity.”
How do you do sleep so well Ray? Here are a few things that work for me:
  • Turn the computer off by 9:00 PM.
  • Don’t eat late.
  • Unwind with some hot decaffeinated tea and a book.
  • Write down plans for the next day so as to not obsess over them at night when you should be sleeping.
I am eating and exercising every day for one reason. I want to live the fullest life possible and that means being physically strong and fit. I know things happen outside of our control and that is true for everyone. But, for those things in my control, I want to live as healthy and vibrant a life as is possible. And I want you to do it too. We have too much life to live to miss out because we are too out of shape to survive the journey.

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