Happy Wednesday! Dr. Green joins us today to discuss the importance of exercise and why our bodies really do crave movement (even if some of us have become really good at suppressing that appetite!). Happy Reading!

I have driven a Jeep Wrangler for 12 years.  I love it even though it rides rough and noisy, it can’t hold much stuff, and it looks out of place in the doctor’s lot at the hospital. My Jeep is a direct descendent of the vehicle used during the Second World War.  It is still designed to go off the pavement and into the woods.  Even though I drive 99.9% of the time on the road, I know that it was built for something else.

Our bodies are also designed for something they do not get enough of: movement.  Most of us wake up, meander through our homes to our cars, walk into work, stay there, run an errand or two, and end up where we start the day.  Throughout human history this has not been the case.  Just over a hundred years ago people started driving and 60 years before that riding in trains.  Even riding on a horse is strenuous not to mention the manual labor involved in caring for a horse.

Think about the life lived in days of The Little House on the Prairie. We woke up early to chores on farms.  We walked.  Jobs were more doing rather than sitting. We walked some more. We finished the day with more chores.   We have lost that natural exercise that had always been built into our lives. The last time I was in New York City I found out that the average New Yorker lives about 3-5 years longer than the average American primarily due to the amount of walking they do.

Our wellness focus is often on what we eat as it should be.  I often tell my patients that it is 80% what we eat and 20% what we do.  In a 2009 Time magazine article “The Myth About Exercise” the point is well made that using exercise as your primary way to becoming thin simply does not add up.  I admit that I would love to eat what I want and exercise for an hour but this is fantasy.

Although exercise alone does not solve weight issues it has tremendous value..it is vital.   In the book Spark, Dr. John Ratey explores the science of exercise and our brains.  He discusses better academic results, less anxiety, and treatment for depression equal to medication- all with exercise.  We function better when we exercise and we have lost our natural way to mentally, physically, emotionally, and even spiritually be better through it.

I would say that I am addicted to exercise or really I crave the positive impact exercise has on me.  I wish I could walk or ride my bike to work every day.  I usually take a break from my duties at work to exercise.  Some people start their day with exercise and some end it with a good walk after dinner.

I hate to confess that my wife can tell if I have not exercised during the day and she has even encouraged me to “go for a run” (which is better than telling me to “get lost”).  Even my soul is refreshed by exercise.  I am not a morning person and some of my early morning runs have made me think I was about to be with God, but when I  exercise it usually separates me from some of my worries and will at times be my most prayerful time of the day.

There is a time to be still.  There is a time to move … and that time happens every day.