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by Dr. Jack Kelly

by Dean Stulz

Why We Choose to be Physical

My first thought in selecting the topic for the newsletter was to discuss the reasons why nearly 70% of our adult population has chosen to lead sedentary life-styles. Although this is a major problem facing our society, I would rather dwell on a more positive theme. I have chosen to explore four of the most important reasons why a physically active life-style is so appealing to many. Perhaps a few of these ideas will be helpful t some readers who have been unable to incorporate at least 3 minutes of exercise into their daily living patterns.

Some of the most rational people among us are active because they have examined the facts and have determined that it makes good sense to be active as it helps them remain healthier. They understand that exercise provides protection from the disease and disabilities that are influenced by low levels of physical fitness.

Others participate in regular physical activity because it simply makes them feel better. These perceptions of well being include not only having stronger hearts, bones, muscles and joints, but also a more peaceful and relaxed attitude toward life in general. We have known for centuries that physical exertion is a natural tranquilizer. It's not surprising to learn of the recent research indicating that exercise can help to lower blood pressure.

A third reason why people choose active life-styles is because they like what it does for their appearance. It helps to keep their waist line trimmer and adds a bounce to their step. Have you noticed that active, fit people look younger than their years?

Anti-oxidants are one of the most talked about and least understood topics in the health and fitness field. But what are they, where do they come from, and what do they do?

Anti-oxidants are molecules in the body that combine with unstable oxygen molecules known as "free radicals". The importance of anti-oxidants and the reason for their recent popularity is the effect they have on free radicals. Free radicals have been associated with the causes of diseases and conditions such as cancer, cataracts, stroke, asthma, peptic ulcers, congestive heart failure, high blood pressure, aging of skin tissues causing sagging and deterioration of bodily organs, and many other health harming conditions. However, free radicals also help fight inflammation, kill bacteria, and control smooth muscles of the blood vessels, which contribute to the control of blood flow.

As you can see, a balance of free radicals is optimal for maintaining a healthy body. This is where anti-oxidants enter the picture. Anti-oxidants help to balance the number of free radicals in the body. Anti-oxidants are formed in the body and are ingested in our diets. Vitamin C vitamin E and beta carotene are three good sources of anti-oxidants.

In the past few years, scientists have discovered that more free radicals are produced in people who participate in a regular, high intensity exercise program. Doctors were puzzled why some highly fit individuals were developing conditions and diseases associated with sedentary individuals. Part of the blame was placed on the high amounts of free radicals found in these individuals.

Finally, in my opinion, the most important reason why people choose to include regular physical activity within their life-style is because it is fun and enjoyable. The reason I believe this point is so important is because I have yet to meet a person who enjoys an activity who would be willing to give it up. The joy and enthusiasm a person derives from participating in an activity is by far the most important gift received. Not only is it a valuable gift in itself, but it provides the spark for keeping our flame burning bright for years to come.

The Human Performance Laboratory staff wishes you a happy and productive year and by all means take the time to find a way to add more joy to your lives.

To ward off the harmful effects of free radicals some doctors recommend taking an anti-oxidant supplement (which can be found in any pharmacy department), a low fat, high fiber diet, fruits and vegetables, and of course, a low to moderate intensity aerobic exercise program. The debate continues as to whether or not anti-oxidant supplementation is necessary even if your exercise program consists of high intensity workouts. Dr. Kenneth Cooper's book, "The Antioxidant Revolution" is an excellent source for more information, or talk to your doctor.


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