In motion

Why is it so hard to get people moving? By now, surely everybody is convinced of the fact that we have to undertake some type of exercise to stay healthy. In the old days, people automatically got more than enough exercise. But now we almost all lead a sedentary life. In our cars, at the office, and at home, our bodies are far from reaching satisfaction.

Our cave-dwellers' bodies are not made for eating TV dinners in front of the television. (© Nomad_Soul - Fotolia.com)

Our bodies are not made for eating TV dinners in front of the television. (© Nomad_Soul – Fotolia.com)

The body, as it is ours nowadays, including our brain, stems from the age of the cave-dwellers. It is made for covering long distances in search of food and for withstanding great physical exertion. It is not made for picking up a TV dinner from the freezer compartment in the supermarket, heating it up in the microwave at home, and then shovelling it down on the couch in front of the television.

Of course it would come in handy if Mother Nature made sure our body would adapt to the way we live in our time. Unfortunately, evolution doesn’t work that way. It goes by fits and starts, thanks to mistakes and errors, and takes many millions of years to get drastic results.

For the time being, we will have to make do with our out of date body. And we will have to give that body what it needs: sufficient exercise. At a certain point in their lives, most people do start to participate in some kind of sport in good spirits, but most of them just as easily quit after a shorter or longer period. We are too busy, don’t fancy going to the gym, feel aches and pains. They are all easy reasons to skip a training. And after the first one, more will certainly follow. Until the moment, we will stop going entirely and we will hang up our sports shoes again.

Harvest
When you’re still young, busy with you career and your family, generally you won’t notice the consequences of a lack of exercise. But unfortunately it is inevitable that what you sow during your younger years, you will harvest when you’re older. By then, you will be faced with the consequences of all your reckless behaviour in whatever form.

After a promising start, many people put their sports shoes away again., but it always helps to start again. (© Marko Plevnjak - Fotolia.com)

After a promising start, many people put their sports shoes away again, but it always helps to start anew. (© Marko Plevnjak – Fotolia.com)

There is one ray of hope though. British scientists discovered you’re still in time to start living in a healthier way by middle age. The more aspects of a healthy lifestyle you will adopt, the bigger the chance of growing old in a pleasant way. Such a healthy lifestyle is a sum of not smoking, moderating alcohol consumption, eating a lot of fruit and vegetables, and above all getting sufficient physical exercise.

When governments in the seventies were confronted with an enormous rise in the number of cases of cardiovascular diseases, full-scale campaigns were launched to educate people on how to prevent these cardiovascular diseases. Everyone who is still living in a way disastrous to heart and blood vessels now, is doing this knowingly.

These days, dementia has become public enemy number one when it comes to health. According to the World Health Organisation, worldwide over 35 million people suffer some form of dementia. In the year 2030, this number will have more than doubled. Not only, because people are getting older and thus run a greater risk of becoming demented, but particularly because we live our lives in ways that contribute to the development of dementia: too much stress, too little sleep, unhealthy food, and, most important of all, little or no exercise.

Why aren’t governments spending a few million on campaigns this time to inform people on how they may prevent dementia? Probably because the general impression still is that dementia cannot be prevented. It is something that will just happen to you when you are getting older. Everyone simply has to suffer dementia sooner or later. It can’t be helped.

Combat
Nothing is more besides the truth. Numerous scientific investigations have shown physical exercise helps combat dementia. Time and again, research results are being published stating aerobic exercise makes your brain mass grow. A clear link exists between the energy your body burns and the volume of grey mass in important parts of your brain.

Illustration showing damaged and healthy myelin sheath, the fatty substance that covers neurons’ extensions and is vital to information exchange between cells. Exercise improves the quality of the myelin sheath. (© blueringmedia - Fotolia.com)

Illustration showing damaged and healthy myelin sheath, the fatty substance that covers neurons’ extensions and is vital to information exchange between cells. Exercise improves the quality of the myelin sheath. (© blueringmedia – Fotolia.com)

This is caused in the first place by the fact that exercise improves blood flow. Fresh blood flowing through the brain strengthens connections between brain cells. On top of that, exercise promotes the birth of new brain cells. Besides, physical activity turns out to limit damage to the brain’s white mass, the fatty substance that covers neurons’ extensions and is vital to information exchange between cells.

The conclusion of all these research projects is that an active lifestyle postpones ageing of the brain.

Despite the prospect of such rewarding results, the flesh remains weak. People prefer to look for other ways to put the gnawing worries about neurodegenerative diseases that may lie lurking around the corner, to silence. Everything seems better than having to reserve half an hour every day to keep the brain fit.

In fact, it is just like losing weight. We all know perfectly well we simply have to eat less if we want to lose a few kilos of body weight. But that is the hard way. We rather prefer to take pills with extreme promises, but with nasty side effects too. Or we go for the operations that also cause undesired reactions within our bodies.

To give in to the demand for the easy way, scientists are searching for remedies to fool the body. Pills that set your muscles to work as if you were really moving, without actually getting out of your lazy chair. Just like vitamin supplements that never have the positive effects of natural vitamines entering our body via fruit and vegetables, in the end also real physical exercise will turn out to be the only correct answer to grow old healthily.

Physical exercise is the only option to grow old healthily. (© Ken Stone – Masterstrack)

Physical exercise is the only option to grow old healthily. (© Ken Stone – Masterstrack)

For women, there is an extra temptation to hit the gym regularly. American researchers have scientifically proven the rumour is true. Women may get an orgasm while practising certain sports, like abdominal exercises, cycling, and weightlifting. So get going!

Image

Lazy dog © Erik Lam – Fotolia.com

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