Move!

Movement  and exercise is the fundament of health. It is better than any diet and prevents many civilization diseases. Why do we undertake it so reluctantly?

 

We know that the mind can influence the body – while  the way we think, take life and reach to stress determines the level of our endurance and staying healthy. But one can say just the opposite  – the body can exert influence on the mind. A man is an  psycho-physical entity, therefore our psychic well-being depends on our  diet and way of life.

Apart from a well-balanced  diet, the basis of health is an active way of life. We seem to know about it, but we do not care. The reason is that more exercise means  a serious change in our everyday life routine. Exercise is particularly important for those of us who spend a lot of time behind the desk – now the major part of our population. We spend a lot of time not only at work, but we also stare in a computer screen; sit in the car, and watch TV in the evening. Thus, we find no time whatsoever for physical exercise.

No doubt, we need it – as the World Health Organization claims due to lack of exercise 20% of cardiac diseases and 10% of heart attacks per year appear in the industrialized countries [1]. Active sports help prevent heart diseases: regular exercises increase the number of red blood cells, stabilize function of the heart and reduce the heart beat; walking in the open air is the best cure for your heart [2]. An increase in energy spending by ca 1,000 kcal per week reduces the death risk by 20-30% [3]. Due to participation in sports one can reduce blood pressure and lower the level of bad cholesterol [4]. Regular and intensive (at least for 3 hours per week) training may help prevent prostate cancer in  men older then  65 years [5]. Exercise reduces risk of bowel cancer and diabetes of type two [6]. It strengthens muscles, and joints, improves density and mineralization of bones, thus reducing the risk of  osteoporosis. Physical activity  improves muscles responsible for breathing, and the volume of lungs; in those who exercise the number of breathes per minute is reduced.

Exercise is also the most effective way to get slim: it burns an excess of fat issue, it helps de-acidification of the organism [7] and reduces cellulite. During a 20-minute run one loses ca. 180 kcal,  an equivalent of energy contained in one glass of full fat milk [8].

 

Every day physical activity is more important than any slimming diet.

 

Moreover, it has good consequences also for your psychological condition: it improves general well-being, relieves  stress, prevents  depression and  reduces its effects; if we move , we have a more positive attitude to life, we think more clearly and function better on an everyday basis.

 

Better less, but more often

 

We must select some or the other form of  physical activity. How long and how often to take exercise? The decision depends on our age, sex and style of life. For a long time exercise was recommended  2-3 times per week; however, now the WHO recommends exercise every day. The first rule says: better less, but more often and on a regular basis then seldom and irregularly. Irregular activity can prove harmful because it is too much a burden for the heart, muscles and joints. Moreover, we cannot get rid of extra kilograms in such a way. After an intensive training one does weight less, but it is due to water loss – and next day the excess  kilograms are back again.

Frequent and consistent training is more effective and safer for our body [9]. Optimal length of moderate activity is ca. 30 minutes (for kids 60 minutes) per day [10], and that equals to the energy one spends when walking a distance of  3 km in 30 minutes time. Apart this daily period of activity, one should also exercise 2-3 times per week in such a way as to become seriously tired. The heart rate should increase by  60-80% in relation to its normal maximum value  (to measure your heart rate, buy a heart rate meter).

How can we count the maximal heart rate per minute? We can use a simple formula: 220 – age = max. HR (heart rate). This is only an approximation; max. heart rate depends also on one’s sex and physical shape. Our organism during the exercise period will burn excess of fat tissue, if our heart rate equals  65–75% max. for at least 45 minutes [11].

After such an effort you should take  a rest, also on a regular basis! For the beginners HR should not exceed  50-55% of max.

value; gradually, you can prolong effort and increase its intensity.

 

We should also distinguish two types of training: aerobic and anaerobic. During an  aerobic training  muscles are provided with adequate amount of oxygen and can gain energy from burning fats or proteins. This training makes active a number of muscles; it increases  general efficiency of the vascular system and is the best way to burn calories. That is why it is recommended to lose extra  kilograms. It includes, e.g., jogging, aerobic, swimming, bicycle riding or Nordic walking.

On the other hand, anaerobic training requires so intensive work of the muscles that blood cannot provide an adequate quantity of oxygen; thus, the burning in muscles goes on without oxygen and the organism does not use fats but other compounds, most of all sugars [12]. This kind of training is characterized by a  short period and high  intensity; it builds mass of muscles [13]. It includes, e.g., squash, ski-riding, weight lifting, short distance running, basket ball and volley ball. Both categories of training are useful in order to achieve the ideal body shape; however, aerobic training is basic and will suffice for most of us.

 

Remember [14]:

 

warm-up and rest  are necessary elements of  training; abrupt start and end of exercises is an unnecessary burden for muscles and heart. Five minutes of warm-up,  stretching before a walk will suffice;

do not participate in sports at the expense of sleep. When your body needs sleep, your brain stops working and compensates its slower work via extra quantity of glucose, which makes up its “fuel.” It is than that you want to eat sweets, and a risk of diabetes occurs, as well as obesity;

do not concentrate on one  part of muscles: there are 640 muscles in your body and all of them need stimulation,

do not exercise with an empty stomach, right after you wake up because your body needs a lot of energy amino acids  at that time; you have to eat breakfast first, since the organism will burn muscle mass instead of fats [15].

 

Which sports to chose?

 

The choice of kind of exercises depends on your condition, endurance, as well as your predilections and temper. Some of us like competition of team sports or adrenaline accompanying sports of combat, while others prefer to relax during lonely wanderings or bike rides.

For elderly people or re-convalescents, a regular walk seems best – or, quite similar, Nordic walking. The technique of  marching with sticks  is compared to the technique of long-distance ski running; it absorbs work of 90% of  muscles [16]; moreover, its intensity can be graded.

The morning or evening jogging becomes more and more popular. However, running on hard surfaces (e.g., concrete) and in unsuitable shoes can be harmful for the spine and joint. On the other hand, bike riding or roller-skating do not put burden on joints, bones and tendons; according to a  myth, bike riding is harmful for calves of the legs and their muscles, but the research does not prove it [17]. Swimming is good for all the muscles and it provides extra oxygen without putting burden in the spine and joints. But the breast stroke can be harmful for neck spine. On the whole, back stroke is most recommended and safest.

Even more fashionable than running is squash, a dynamic sport that,  as all other contact sports, results in many injuries; that is why it requires earlier  preparation and an adequate diet to practice it. At best your adventure with squash should start under coaches’  guidance. To be sure, squash is not a sports for those who need “moderate exercise” [18].

Yoga is a set of excellent stretching exercises. It strengthens  muscles of your upper body, joints, as well as improves balance of hormones , improves  power and normalizes weight. Yoga is also a form of meditation, in order to be calm and perceive the realty in a new light: thanks to asans, i.e. positions, and synchronization of movement with breathing in a natural way we achieve the  state of meditation [19].

Last not last, classical gymnastic – stretching exercises, etc. You can exercise at home, with no financial expenses at all. The point is that it is simply boring to perform the same set of exercises every day; that is why we do not keep the promise to exercise at home. It often helps to buy a ticket for exercise hall, especially if your promises are weak, as it imposes rigor and motivation, difficult to achieve at home. And if we can spend more money, we can pay for a few individual lessons with a coach who will select exercises especially for our state of health, our purposes and liking.

Nevertheless, remember that it is always better to walk a short distance than drive; it is better to go for one-hour walk than sit and watch TV for an hour. A healthy way of life begins from small portion of exercise on everyday basis.

Quote for today

Your body weight depends on your mind The mind is a key to solving the problem of obesity (or anorexia). (...) You will not be able to control your diet, overeating  (or anorexia), unless you are able to control the state of your mind. (s. 294)
Consciousness and health The body without consciousness is healthy.  Healthy consciousness transfers the disease to the body. (s. 262)
Desires of the mind The mind always desires something it cannot achieve. The more we possess, the more we feel deprived. (s. 287)
Love Only someone  filled with love lives to the fullest of live. Mind you, those in love are usually healthy Or even symptoms of diseases in them vanish. Love is the main basis of health. (s. 182)
Rationality in work Work is well done when you do not feel exhausted with it after its completion (s. 117)
Happiness Happiness is the  state of consciousness that can occur only during the processing of complex information. Thus, you wahe to develop your spirit and your senses – in  this way we can earn more possibilities to feel happiness. (s. 39)
Diet and health (…) do not stick to a strict diet – instead eat well. This will suffice zn – both for the healthy body and soul. (s. 244)
Power of the mind We are not aware of the power of our minds, of our capabilities and that it needs only little will power to use them. All you have to do is use principle of concentration of power, i.e. learn how to distinguish import ant matters from trivial ones and  do not seek  problems where they do not exist. (s. 72)
Care for the present time The past does not hide anything interesting. Release yourself from it and live in the present time. (s. 304)
Eliminate stress (…) elimination of stress is equal to the process of recovery. (s. 50)

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Unimaginable: The Power and Paradoxes of Our Minds deals with the unusual power of the mind. The fundamental motive of this book is trust in power and capabilities of the human mind in combating diseases, stress and worries.

Książka Niewyobrażalne. Potęga i paradoksy naszych umysłów