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Formal exercise is a modern-day activity, invented to meet the clinical needs of a body void of all-day movement and deficient in proper nutrition. It’s an activity employed for the prevention (or treatment) of metabolic disorders, heart diseases, and fattening or premature degradation of the human body.
But if fitness professionals and healthcare practitioners continue to lobby for formal exercise to be at the top of everyone’s priority list, then it will only marginalize the fundamental genetic need for regular all-day movement and proper nutrition — two things far more important to good health and normal body weight.
The ceaseless promotion of formal exercise and the declaration of its urgency can often impose guilt upon those too busy to schedule an exercise routine that typically requires an hour or more out of an already packed day full of obligations and obstacles. Stressing the importance of formal exercise can simply stress many of us, or induce the feeling of failure. It’s like telling a mother she needs to put exercise above the care of her baby, her children, or the well-being of her family. She, a devoted mother, will only feel bad about herself when she misses the workouts. It’s an unfair message full of presumptuousness and insularity.
We ought to reconsider what encourages health and what induces, maintains, or regains fitness, rather than preach a potentially unrealistic practice for a large number of people at certain times of their lives, or indefinitely. Not everyone, for one reason or another, has access to a gym or a formal exercise routine.
General fitness can sometimes just be frequent movement that includes walking, picking up things, cleaning the house, carrying groceries, lifting the baby, taking the stairs, getting down on the ground, standing up from the ground… you know, active living.General fitness may even include a quick run or sprint around the block when you have five or 10 free minutes. Maybe get off the computer and knock out 10 pushups, or 20. This takes a minute. Do it throughout the day. Sometimes general fitness does not have to be a drive to the gym for a one-hour workout on a motorized treadmill and fix-cam machines, or “burn” your muscles with chrome dumbbells and rusty barbells, utilizing a 3-day split routine. Just get moving — frequently — throughout your day. And when you have the time, then go to the gym to get your fix on, or swim laps in the pool; but don’t get into the mindset that if you can’t do formal workouts, then you’re losing out on general fitness. The gym is where your body is… just move.
Health is eating well, eating just enough without eating too much. Health is eating nutritious foods without excess calories. Stick with wholesome foods that have been nourishing our bodies for hundreds of thousands of years, like vegetables and fruits and natural meats. Avoid carbohydrates that are made from grains, which have been around for only 10,000 years — hardly enough time for genetic adaptation. This dietary habit encourages hormonal and metabolic health, which results in an aesthetically favorable body composition.
General health and fitness is not necessarily what you do in the gym or how much time you spend doing formal exercise. It’s what you do during your waking hours and how you eat. And health is also keeping stress manageable in your life, and you can start by removing the urgency of formal exercise.