EXERCISE SOME: DARE TO BE A NATURAL ANIMAL!
You are actually a very, very complicated electro-chemical-mechanical-spiritual machine that requires extremely precise tuning to keep itself in shape and operating at its peak potential. To have a healthy body, you must have a healthy mind. And, to have a healthy mind, you must have a healthy body. And both of these require a healthy spirit.
A healthy body requires — no, demands — exercise. A lot of t people cringe when they hear that word. It conjures up images of sore, aching muscles, broken fingers, stubbed toes, and all kinds of other unpleasant things, including heart attacks. If the label generates an unpleasant mindset for you, change it. Call it play! Then get some play every day. Let’s face it: a natural, healthy animal moves around. A natural, healthy, human animal moves around a lot. Thrown out into your natural habitat, a tropical forest without any of the crutches of civilization to support you, your day would start when you awoke from your bed of branches about 20 feet up some tree. You would shimmy down to the ground, stretch, yawn, and start looking for breakfast that, more than likely, also would be up a tree. A local tiger, likewise looking for breakfast, might interrupt your trip to the breakfast bar and send you scurrying for another tree or cave. During your day, you probably would climb hundreds of feet, run many miles, and walk many more before you broke off fresh branches to make yourself another tree- bed for your night’s rest. The Ritz Carlton with room service was not an option. Your day’s agenda would not call for you to sit behind the wheel of a car, droop over a computer, or stand for hours on a concrete floor. Neither would you clunk around with four-inch blocks of wood under your heels distorting your muscles and bones. Barefooted (with thick calluses on your soles), you would run to escape your enemies or just for the sheer joy of it, pull yourself up and over tree branches to gather fruit, stoop or reach for a variety of green leaves to chew, lift rocks and logs to find insects or just to see what th’ heck was under there, dig the ground with a stick for roots, and walk up and down hills to explore your kingdom. From time to time, you would carry huge loads of food, wood, water, or other necessities. When you rested, you would hunker down (squat) Indian-style, stretching important back and leg muscles, or lie down, giving them all a break. To keep your human mind and body in good shape today, you need to duplicate that day in the forest as closely as possible. You might think that’s no problem because “it’s a jungle out there anyhow,” but you need a real jungle — not one made out of concrete, steel and hoodlums. We live in a very artificial environment, and the further away from our natural habitat it is, the more “adapters” we need. Hospitals are the prime provider of adapters for artificial environments. A good exercise routine not only keeps you physically limber, resilient and strong, but also stimulates your mind to all-time great heights. The blood surging through your brain washes out the clinkers in your gray matter and gives you a fresh outlook on life. The infusion of a little natural dope that your body manufactures when you work it hard also boosts your love of life — and your love life, come to think of it. Altogether, these processes reduce stress and make you feel great because you know you have the strength and endurance to meet life’s challenges and win. It’s tough to feel good about yourself when, at a mere 65, you have to have help to get out of your chair and go to the potty and the only thing you can get up in bed is your blood pressure when you forget to take your pills.
Regular challenging exercise strengthens and increases the size of your heart muscles, replaces long-lost capillaries, helps clean out your arteries, increases your rate of metabolism, oxygenates your body’s various tissues, lowers your blood pressure, reduces your pulse rate, increases your muscle and ligament strength, provides muscle definition, strengthens your bones, helps you to relax, and does many other wonderful things that help you to feel better, look better and live longer. So, why would you not want to be physically active? One of the benefits you can feel right away is the detoxification that takes place when you really work your muscles. As you go through a typical day of getting angry and not being able to beat up or kill somebody, or getting scared and not being able to flee, you build up all those battling and fleeing chemicals in your body which, if not worked out, poison you. When you hit a tennis ball or run around the block a few times, you use up the chemicals that your glands have sprayed into your body and so they don’t poison you anymore. A game of aggressive tennis does just as good a job of eliminating toxins as beating somebody to a pulp, and is much more socially acceptable. Of course, as you practice the lessons learned from Psychoharmonics™, you find that you are angry less and afraid less often and, therefore, you have fewer toxic chemicals to dump from your system. Until you reach sainthood perfection, however, you’ll still be doing a little puckering and pouting during most days of trying to cope in your artificial environment. Exercise is a great adaptor to help you survive. It’s much better for you than pills, not to mention much cheaper. Use it. An unexpected side effect of exercise is you sleep more soundly and, therefore, find you need less sleep. As you build muscles, your body begins to utilize food more efficiently to cope with the new demands. As your tissues are bounced, squeezed and heated up, they also flush out more toxins than your old couch potato body did, thus speeding up your trip to the glowing good health you’re striving to achieve. And, the big payoff, of course, is exercise burns off excess fat!
Some of the best exercise you can get, of course, comes from walking and running. I do a little of each nearly every morning right after I get up. I usually drive down to a nearby park that has trails through the woods with a few hills to give me a little challenge. I like to walk a while and then run a while, so it usually works out to be about half and half. At a very minimum you should commit to walking at least half an hour each day. As you get fit, kick that up to an hour. It’s time well spent that will save you time – maybe save you time in the hospital – and give you more time on this earth before you’re under it. I’m still working on my other indoor exercise routines, and they change as my needs and circumstances change, but here’s the basic plan I typically use: I start out with a few simple stretches and then, while listening to some energetic music (I like the “Flashdance” soundtrack), I do a little 30-minute workout on my mini-trampoline that I bought at a department store for less than $30.00 several years ago. I bounce and trot a while on the trampoline to get my pulse going, and then stretch a little more. I might then do a set of 24-36 power squats, followed by 36-48 leg lifts and the same number of sit-ups to work out my belly. (I like to do things in Biblical 12s!) I then work my shoulders and chest with slightly angled full pushups, holding onto the rim of the trampoline and planting my toes on the floor. Next, I might do a few sideways leg lifts to work my hips. I might then do a sort of swimming/flying motion with a 10-pound dumbbell in each hand that, with 48 or so repetitions, gives the whole upper body a great workout. After a few curls and overhead presses with some dumbbells and an old rusty 22-pound truck axle, I end the workout with a little more running in place on the trampoline to cool down. All in all, it’s a very satisfying and cheap workout.
From time to time, I also start my day with a set of rituals that are said to have been learned from Tibetan monks. What they are supposed to do is realign your “chakras,” which are believed to be little vortexes of energy located in different parts of your body. The exercises start out with a clockwise spin. This is followed by a halfway sit-up where you lift your legs high instead of your head. Then, on your knees, you hold your thighs and bend backwards as far as you comfortably can. In number four, you support yourself on your feet and hands with your belly on top and your body parallel with the floor. Finally, you put your hands and feet on the floor with your butt high in the air and then drop to a pushup position. You start off with three reps each and work up to 21. You can find a good explanation with illustrations that are easy to follow at: http://www.mkprojects.com/pf_TibetanRites.htm I do a lot of walking with my normal activities, which typically adds up to several miles each day, much of which is up and down steps in this old house I live in. I also take long walks through the woods, do heavy yard work, and do other fun, aerobic things. As often as possible, I find something to swing on. I climb the pecan trees in the back yard. I swing from the overhang as I go down our master stairs. I cling to doorframes and let my body weight swing forward. I also stretch out on steps, tables, bathtubs, bedsides, etc., in a swayback pose that stretches my lower back and helps to keep things there in place. All this chimpanzee-like swinging, hanging-by-your-hands and stretching exercise is important for keeping your back strong and your spine stretched out the way it’s supposed to be. Again, keep in mind that what you’re doing is trying to duplicate, at least to some extent, the daily routine of your ancient ancestors. Being chased by a tiger is optional, of course. A mini-trampoline, incidentally, is the most essential piece of equipment in your home gym and even in your office. Not only does it give you good aerobic exercise, but it also helps both your bowels and your lymphatic system to dump their respective collections of poisons. In the artificial environments in which most of us exist, our body gets bounced very little. To circulate its fluids and do its cleansing job properly, your lymphatic system depends upon bouncing of the kind you would get if you were walking and running through the woods on rough terrain, jumping gullies, jumping from trees, and so forth. Every time you bounce on your trampoline, little lymph valves open and close to move the toxin-collecting fluids along on their journey through your system and out of your body. That helps clear the excess solids and/or fluids out of your cells and enables them to function properly. In other words, you can make your cells the healthy little energy generators they’re supposed to be by bouncing. Healthy cells make healthy tissue, and healthy tissue helps to make a healthy, energetic, stress-free you. Bouncing is well worth the bother. When you first start bouncing on a mini-trampoline or on a full-sized one, your stomach might get a little upset, especially if your body is very toxic and you have been inactive for a long time. If you do start feeling a little nauseated, stop bouncing, do something else for a while, and then come back to it when you feel better. If you tend to get car sick (or suffer any other kind of motion sickness), building up your bouncing tolerance to half an hour or so could solve your problem. When your body is being bounced up and down on a rough highway or on a rough sea, your lymphatic system really gets a workout. The overload of toxins dumped into your digestive tract for disposal is at least part of what makes you feel sick. What that suggests also is, if you feel really toxic, bouncing will help you to detoxify your body. When I’m feeling really dragged out, bouncing a few minutes gives me a new outlook on life. Deep breathing in cadence with the bouncing greatly enhances the benefits. I do about four counts on the inhale and the same on the exhale.
The real key to getting in shape is consistency. If you go all out for a few days and then quit for a week, you’re worse off than before you started. Yo-yo exercising can be as harmful as yo-yo dieting. You need to design a reasonable program that’s right for you, starting out with a very slow, relaxed regimen and then working up to at least 30 minutes each day for maximum benefit. If you get tired of walking, start running. If it gets too dark to play tennis, play racquetball. Avoid getting bored. Anything you do to stretch and work your muscles is good as long as you don’t hurt yourself by overdoing it. If you talk to me a year from now, my routine will be completely different. I listen to my body and my mind and try to fill the need. I recommend the same to you. Do what you enjoy doing and you’ll make time for it. The best exercise, of course, is robust sex. The next best is play. Don’t be afraid of a little pain. If you think you have a serious injury, however, don’t push it. If you even suspect you might have a heart problem, get your doctor’s permission before doing any exercise. Be suspicious of any chest pains. But after you’ve been running for a couple of weeks and you’ve worked up to covering a mile or two, don’t worry about a little muscle pain when you try to add a bit more distance or speed. There are some instances where, to make progress, you have to push past the pain, whether it’s physical or mental. In working to get my lower back and hip in shape to accommodate my running and other activities, I’ve discovered that steady stretches that produce a little pain, when held with a steady pressure, usually produce great relief. I’m not talking about bouncing or jerking your body around, which will tear your ligaments and break your bones, so don’t go do something dumb and blame me. The gradual, steady stretch, pushing past the pain, finally produces a little “pop” as the shrunken tendon yields and allows the joint to slide into its rightful place. The same phenomenon occurs when I’m running. It has always been rewarding to push past the pain. This principle applies to emotional pain, too, but that’s another story. If you stretch and give primary emphasis to your upper body one day and then concentrate on the lower part of your body the next, it will give your muscles time to heal and get ready for another workout. Most professionals suggest that you not exceed your maximum heart rate, which is 220 minus your age. At age 75, that means I should not do anything that causes my heart to beat faster than 145 times per minute. Since my heart is pretty strong, I rarely go above 120. Depending upon your age, a fitness counselor might recommend that you try to keep your heart rate at as little as 50% of the maximum during your exercise program. Books are available to give you complete guidance if you want to get that technical. I can’t advise you on what’s right for you because I don’t know you up front and personal. Know thyself, and do what it takes to be safe. Whatever you do, use common sense and avoid overdoing it. When jogging, for example, most experts agree you should be able to carry on a conversation in a fairly normal voice. If you find yourself fighting for breath, then you’re being stupid; slow down and walk a while. If you take your pulse (number of beats in 15 seconds times four) and find you’re exceeding your maximum heart rate, that also is a signal to slow down and get normalized. If you find yourself having any kind of chest pains, get professional help immediately! Don’t take a chance with a heart attack, especially out on some lonely road. It’s unlikely Ol’ Yeller will come rescue you, so keep your cell phone handy. A good heart-attack kit, by the way, is reputed to be two plain aspirin tablets and a couple of capsules of hot, cayenne pepper. If you have a heart attack, the aspirin thins your blood, dissolving clots, and the red pepper shocks your heart into pumping vigorously again. For more information on these remedies, use google.com and search the net. This simple remedy could save your life or the life of a loved one. Any “first aid,” of course, should come only after somebody has called 911. If, after your workout, you’re totally zonked out, especially after you’ve been unglued from the couch for a week or two, then you’re pushing too hard. I did that when I first started running. I jumped from two-mile runs to three or four and it did me in for the day. Your workout should make you feel better, not worse. If you haven’t recovered in 20-30 minutes and started feeling like a spring colt, then ease up. Cut your time or your effort back to where it’s more comfortable and then work up to a stronger pace gradually. Whatever you do, make sure you cool down gradually. I once made the mistake of lying down on my trampoline under a fan after a hard run. I woke up an hour later chilled to the bone. Two days later I had my first and last bout with pneumonia and laryngitis. I learned the hard way that severe and prolonged chilling of a hot body is not good. WARNING: Again, understand there is no way I can assess your physical condition and recommend an exercise program specifically for you from this end of my word processor. YOU will have to determine what’s good for you in consultation with whatever health and fitness experts you deem necessary. You can be sure, however, that if you are a seriously overweight, out-of-shape blob who has not worked up a good sweat in years, and you take off on a three-mile run, you could very well suffer a heart attack and die deader than last year’s fish bait. Be smart. Get a checkup, warm up, start out easy, cool down, and you’ll help yourself to really begin to live happily ever after…most of the time. Like learning how to eat right, learning how to exercise right takes some time and effort, too. Be easy on yourself. Don’t set impossible goals. If you’re protesting now that you’re a couch potato and you can’t stand the thought of any degree of exercise, then it’s time to change some labels. Couch potatoes don’t do much of anything, so chuck that label. Think of yourself as a natural animal that has been hibernating for a while and you’re getting in shape for mating season. How’s that for an incentive? Also, keep in mind that exercise is the HOW of the goal. To get your mindset right, think about the WHAT and the WHY. Visualize the great body all that exercise is going to produce for you — and those admiring glances from the opposite sex! You’ll be able to label yourself a hunk or fox or whatever the current slang might be for a very attractive person. If you’ve found yourself getting tired already, then I’d like for you to rest a while now. Get up and do a little stretching. Make yourself a green smoothie. Squat as you drink it. Stick your head out the door and take a few good deep breaths of fresh air. Lie down a few minutes if you need to. A good rule to follow is to always rest anytime you’re really tired. Exercises: 1. In your journal that you are now keeping, make out a firm schedule for a daily exercise program and commit to it. Choose something you will enjoy and be motivated to stick with. Be reasonable. If you’ve been fairly inactive for a while, then start out with a light 10-15-minute workout each day and add a few more minutes each week until you reach at least 30 minutes per day. An hour is even better. Write out your schedule. Include a lot of variety, such as tennis, walking, weightlifting, aerobics, dancing, sex, etc. Do what you love. Put a positive label on it and love what you do. 2. In your journal, make a daily entry on changes in how you feel and look, your weight, body measurements, your energy level, your mood, sleeping habits, etc. Initially, you might feel a little worse. Once your body gets adjusted to your new regimen, however, your exercise time will become a favorite part of your day. 3. Don’t use the excuse that you “don’t have time.” If you’re alive, you have time. Cut out some television watching. Get up a little earlier. Cut out some work! With exercise, you’ll be more energetic and more efficient at work, so you’ll get more done in less time. Use that extra time to exercise. Make it a commitment and cancel all conflicting goals. 4. Unless you have a severe knee or other joint/muscle problem, practice squatting as often as possible. Do a little duck-walking from time to time. Use squatting as one of your ways to limber up before walking, running, or playing sports. 5. WARNING, again! If you even suspect you might have a physical problem that would be aggravated by exercise, then see a healthcare professional before you start any exercise program. Unless you are a competitive athlete, you should always avoid pushing yourself to your limit. When you get tired, rest. When you get out of breath, stop until you can control your breathing sufficiently to talk in a normal manner. Always avoid getting overheated and/or dehydrated. If you have severe pain anywhere, stop and get help. Know the signs of an impending heart attack. If your physical condition puts you at risk, then always exercise with a responsible other. Always keep a cell phone nearby. In short, be smart and take care of yourself. You are the only one who can do that.
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