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Sean McCawley

Sean McCawley 

It isn’t a surprise that regular exercise benefits our society. Multiple studies support evidence that at least 150 minutes or 2.5 hours of exercise per week fends off significant illness such as cancer, diabetes, psychological and emotional disorders leading to depression, and an assortment of cardiovascular diseases.

When we go to the doctor with symptoms from a threatening illness, usually a prescription is administered to treat the symptoms. When dealing with chronic symptoms, prolonged adherence to taking daily prescriptions can last three months to a year to treat certain illnesses. How could we decrease the need to visit the doctor for these diseases? The answer is to administer your own medicine through exercise.

Scientific research has correlated poor eating habits and detrimental lifestyle decisions with the increase in metabolic diseases and cancer. Sub-optimal dietary and lifestyle decisions are commonly linked to decreased levels of physical activity. When fatty, bready, sugary foods are consumed, people get bloated, lazy, and have gastrointestinal distress. Smoking and indulging in copious amounts of alcoholic beverages into the wee hours of night stress the body, inducing poor sleep habits and increased stress the next day. Sure, it’s fun to go out and have a few beers with the guys and watch the 49ers game. Or perhaps the ladies want to go out and share a bottle of Napa’s finest wines over a cheese plate.

However, if we stay too late and consume too much rich food and alcohol the body will hit a point of stress it cannot handle and start to deteriorate. Feelings of lethargy, headaches, and stomachaches usually follow. We can enter a vicious downward spiral from the byproducts of these decisions making physical activity painful and wilting motivation. When the motivation to stop moving sinks, stress and sickness surface.

We see similar issues with our personal training participants in the Napa Valley. As we consult with our clients, a popular goal is to refine lifestyle habits that support sufficient physical activity. If we can reinforce the habits and decision-making ability of our culture to support physical activity, we will see a decrease in life-threatening diseases. Additionally, the dependency and need to visit the doctor’s office will significantly decrease.

A challenging habit to adhere to is prioritizing two to three days of physical activity throughout the week. How are we supposed to prioritize that? We can make a weekly schedule where specific days are exclusively dedicated to some form of physical activity.

When choosing physical activities, look at exercises you enjoy doing such as gardening, playing pickleball, hiking, swimming, or taking long walks in the sunset with your loved ones. Don’t just get a year-long membership to the gym because everyone else is doing it. Avoid the exercise sessions and physical activities that feel like a chore.

The most important factor to getting involved in more physical activity is to find the activities that are a gift to us. If we identify that activities and movements we hold dear, we might think twice about going out until 1 a.m. to be in an environment consisting of sub-optimal food, smoke, and booze. Why would you want to feel like a train wreck when you have obligations to the physical activities you truly enjoy?

The proof is in the pudding when figuring out methods to decrease the development of cancer, depression, and cardiovascular disease. One of the first lines of defense against such conditions is physical activity.

If we prioritize physical activity and exercise, there won’t be as many visits to the doctor or the excruciatingly boring line at the pharmacy. By putting exercise first, we can live healthier disease-free lives yet still be able to have a few nights to splurge. Use exercise not only as a multi-vitamin to fend off disease, but also as a tool to keep us in line to enjoy our lives to the fullest.

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Sean McCawley, the founder and owner of Napa Tenacious Fitness in Napa, welcomes questions and comments. Reach him at 707-287-2727, napatenacious@gmail.com or visit the website napatenaciousfitness.com.

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