Getting to the heart of your health
Everyone knows they need to exercise. Society gives constant reminders to get in your physical activity. With the world we now live in full of convenience foods and sedentary leisure activities, exercise is our weapon against heart disease, cardiovascular disease, and obesity. “It must be all the sitting around” says common sense. So we start exercising more, recommending near daily exercise (says the ACSM) and glorify those who appear to be ‘healthy’. Those who are lean and strong are automatically assumed to be much healthier based strictly on appearance. But what if exercise is not a weapon, but just a hobby? Can a hobby really save you?
These same people we put up on a pedestal are just as likely to have the same heart problems as those who sit on their duff eating packaged snacks all day. Like everything today, we judge health based on image and appearances. 6 packs and big booties are considered healthyy. Just because people look healthy doesn’t mean they are. Just ask the many bodybuilders who die of organ failure in their 40s. Actor Andy Whitfield, a super ripped actor portraying Spartacus, died at the age of 39 of non Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Celebrity trainer Bob Harper, someone who helps people look their best and get healthier for a living, didn't see his near fatal heart attack coming. These are people who look healthy and strong. Bob’s job is literally to help people avoid problems like heart attacks. Had a big one at 50. Even my father, a Doctor, had a heart attack while eating well and exercising at age 51.
“I thought exercise was our white light shining in a dark abyss, leading us to safety. I thought exercise was supposed to improve my life and my mood and protect me from scary health issues. I thought exercise was going to fix my mountain of problems… “ What gives?
Exercise isn’t some magic pill that fixes your life with minimal changes. Exercise provides stimulus for your body to become stronger, and make adaptations based on the stimulus. It can help reduce your RISK for health problems, but it can’t erase them like a pencil. For example, If you have a family history of strokes, heart attacks, or Cancers then you have an increased risk of having them too. Exercise can help reduce that risk, but it can’t take the risk away. That risk follows you for life. Even if you have it under control now, that doesn’t mean 5 years from now it’s still under control. This means diet and lifestyle play a big role in your health, not just your physical activity levels. Live a super stressed lifestyle and are addicted to convenience foods? Go invest in life insurance immediately.
Exercise puts a lot of stress on your body too. As someone who has dabbled with weight training daily, or two a day exercise routines, I can tell you from personal experience the stress adds up. And this was with meticulous calorie tracking, forcing down food when I wasn’t hungry including an abundance of fruits and vegetables, and making sure to get 8 hours of sleep. My body and brain were toast! Now if you add in the stress of life to an intense workout program, and have a shitty diet, AND you have elevated risk factors predisposing you to health problems, you are literally a ticking time bomb.
Think about this: it is perfectly acceptable in our culture to binge watch tv even at work or on the toilet, eat whatever you want whenever you want including fast food for every meal, take a magic pill to fix your physical or mental issues, and social networking is often done screen to screen. This is the world we live in. You can do whatever you feel like doing, be whatever you feel you are inside at your convenience. And in this world of do whatever you want and be whatever you want, most people are choosing nothing. This is not an indictment on people’s choices, but rather an observation about human nature in our society today. As someone who works with youth athletes, I can tell you that these kids that will be adults in 10 years are facing quite the uphill battle. They grew up in this world, and know nothing else.
Unfortunately, exercise isn’t going to solve all your problems. It can help you be healthier, help you look your best, help you feel better, but it can’t save you. Below I have attached the risk factors predisposing people to health problems. You have the choice to become informed. I hope you make a smart choice.