Four Pillars of Health - Part 3: Exercise

young woman running

Would you like to be old, unhealthy and decrepit or old, healthy and mobile? There’s a big difference between aging and decay. Aging is inevitable; your hair will turn grey, things will start to sag, and you will start to look old. But you don’t have to act or feel old. Our bodies are constantly replacing muscle cells, blood cells and bone cells; actively destroying older cells and replacing them with growing cells. The nerve impulse to contract a muscle also sends a message to repair and build it up. If enough of the nerve impulses are sent at once, it overwhelms the signal to atrophy. But if you don't exercise, your muscles sit idle and decay takes over. You want to have more growth than decay. To do that you need daily exercise, commitment, good nutrition and engagement with life. (Crowley & Lodge, 2007, Younger Next Year)

Additional benefits of exercise include a better immune system, better sleep, weight loss, insulin regulation, fat burning, improved sexuality, improved memory and thinking skills, resistance to heart attack, stroke, osteoporosis, hypertension, cancer, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, diabetes, high cholesterol and depression.

“Going for a run is going to improve your skin health, your eye health, your gonadal health,” Dr. Tarnopolsky says. “It’s unbelievable.” If there were a drug that could do for human health everything that exercise can, it would likely be the most valuable pharmaceutical ever developed. (Oaklander, 2016)

Doctors used to prescribe exercise and then along came surgery and prescription drugs. Despite the fact that we know exercise will make us healthier, we humans aren’t very good at doing anything for long term benefits. In 2017, the ParticipACTION Pulse Report reported that 84% of Canadians aren’t getting the recommended amount of exercise ( And, we seem to overestimate how much exercise we’re actually getting. 

So how do we commit to an exercise plan?

  • Write it down where you can see it and track it
  • Use a device such as a Fitbit or Garmin, or an app on your cell phone
  • Tell all your friends about your exercise plan
  • Exercise with a friend
  • Join a class
  • Do something you enjoy
  • Don’t wait until the end of the day when you’re too tired 

How much exercise do we need? In their book, Crowley & Lodge recommend 45 minutes, six days a week. Warburton (et al) say that the Health Canada guidelines (150 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity per week) are sufficient to reap health benefits. The Mayo Clinic recommends at least 30 minutes every day. Most other sources say 150 minutes per week (i.e., 30 minutes five times a week).

The key is any exercise is better than none. If you can’t do 150 minutes every week, cut yourself some slack. 100 minutes is better than nothing. Any improvement to your health is still an improvement. Because you can’t do the recommended amount of exercise isn’t an excuse to quit. Just do. Then do better.

Can essential oils help? Essential oils can help to motivate and energize you and soothe sore muscles. Bergamot, black pepper, cinnamon and sweet fennel can help motivate you and cinnamon, citronella, geranium, lemon, peppermint, rosemary, turmeric and ylang ylang can energize you. For sore muscles dilute some black pepper, cinnamon, clary sage (best muscle relaxant), eucalyptus, frankincense, ginger, grapefruit, lavender, lemongrass, marjoram (very powerful muscle relaxant), patchouli, peppermint, pine, rosemary, spearmint, tea tree, Japanese mint, or turmeric in a carrier oil (such as coconut oil, almond oil, olive oil, etc.), massage oil or lotion.

If you’re not currently active, discuss starting an exercise regimen with your doctor first.

Missed part 2 on diet? See it here

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