You Only Have to Work Out on the Days That You Eat – by Dr. Stephen Franson.
A patient explained to me the other day that she “tries to exercise 4 or 5 times per week.”
“That’s great.” I said, “But how many times do you actually do it?” I asked.
“Honestly, only two or three…” she responded. “Why? How often am I supposed to exercise?” She asked.
“Only on the days that you eat.” I answered.
I believe that God has shaped mankind over the millennia, for His reasons (which I do not pretend to understand), using the hammer and anvil of environmental pressures and time. Those that adapted and responded to stressors successfully survived, reproduced and passed their genetic legacy on to us.
If you believe that we are created in His Image, then you must believe that we are made according to His design. Our genes are therefore best thought of as an owner’s manual. Science is learning more everyday about how to read this double helix code book to unlock the instructions on optimal living. If we wish to be truly healthy, and function optimally, we must follow the manual. We must eat by design, move by design and think by design if we intend to maximize the quality of our lives. We must live by design.
Truth be told, if your ancestors didn’t move, they didn’t eat. As a hunter and gatherer, if you didn’t hunt and gather, you didn’t eat. Every cell in your body is stuffed with a genetic legacy that has been shaped over thousands of generations by successful adaptations to environmental stressors and the behaviors that promoted survival and reproduction. One key behavior that left an indelible imprint on your genetic owner’s manual is movement. The most active humans won in the greatest contest known to man: life.
Before the agricultural revolution 10,000 years ago, all humans had to spend energy to secure energy. In other words, you had to burn calories to find, hunt, chase, fish, carry and prepare everything that you ever ate or drank. Have you ever carried 5 gallons of water across your office or kitchen to replenish a water cooler? You should try it. Now imagine walking a mile to fetch water every time you needed it. Compare that to turning on the faucet. Once you’ve got your water, go find, chop and gather wood for a fire. How does that compare to adjusting the dial on your thermostat?
Your cells are hard-wired to expect movement. All of your body’s physiology is geared for regular exertion and intense activity. Movement is as much a cellular nutrient as Vitamin C or an essential element as oxygen. Any deficiency in oxygen is readily apparent – it is an acute essential element. Movement is a latent essential element – deficiency is not immediately apparent, but the effects are just as devastating.
We are faced with the perfect storm of obesity today. The confluence of three factors has created the obesity and sickness pandemic that is sweeping our nation: first, choosing to consume foods that are toxic to our cells. Secondly, the deficiency that results from making these toxic choices instead of eating the healthy foods that our bodies require. And finally, the resulting energy imbalance that is a consequence of our relatively sedentary lifestyles.
The divorce that now exists between energy expenditure and energy consumption has led to an energy imbalance – better thought of as an energy crisis – that has produced the greatest threat to mankind’s health today: chronic disease. Although we have been designed to adapt magnificently to famine, we have no physiological defense against abundance and abuse…except intelligence and free will.
We must recognize that in our modern industrialized world, most things are done for us. Previously obligate activities like running down your lunch are no longer on your daily planner. We must remember that “busy” does not equate active.
Our ancestors moved as if their lives depended on it – and today, ours still do. If you wish to be truly healthy, you must become truly active. Build activity into your everyday life. Park far away from the building, bike to work, take the stairs, change the water bottle…down the street. Just do something. Just move.
Your ancestors did not “work out”. Their lives were their workout. Yours is not. Just like your multivitamin, exercise is a supplement. You are supplementing your deficient movement patterns. You must move every day. Do something you enjoy…. do what moves you. As long as you are moving, sweating and panting – you are exercising.
Everyone has their own reasons for working out: more energy, longer life, or buns of steel. It seems that for every reason to work out, there are many more reasons that people don’t. Get over it and get into it. Look on the bright side, exercising every day is one way to get everything that you want, while simultaneously getting everything that you need.
In Health from Within,
Dr. Stephen Franson