Exercise is an Absolute Requirement for Life

Exercise is not merely important. It is absolutely essential. Most people, however, do not realize this, because the time factor of the cause-effect relationship between lack of exercise and the resulting decline in functional ability is so great. To further elaborate on this point, Arthur Jones once used the following example during a Nautilus seminar:

“If I were to grab you by the throat, and choke off your air supply, it would immediately become apparent to you that oxygen is absolutely essential for life. If I were to lock you in a room with no water, after several hours, the degree of thirst you would experience would indicate to you that water is a requirement for life. If I were to lock you in that room with water, but no food, it would take a little longer, a matter of a couple of days, before you would be ravenously hungry, and there would be no question in your mind that food was absolutely essential for life. However, it often takes years before ones body begins to show the harm done by a lack of proper exercise.”

If nothing is done to prevent it, we gradually lose muscle tissue as we age, becoming weaker, and less flexible as a result. There are several problems associated with this, the most obvious being a decrease in metabolism resulting in increased body fat, which is a primary risk factor for heart disease and several other serious health conditions such as diabetes. Not so obvious though, are the effects of a lack of exercise on one’s bones.

We often hear about elderly people falling and breaking their hips, an injury which often turns out to be fatal. It is often assumed that these people break their hips as a result of having fallen. In a large number of cases, the opposite is true: they suffer a fall because their hip breaks. Each year, an average of 80,000 men suffer a hip fracture and one-third of these men die within a year. The cause: osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis, or porous bone, is a disease characterized by low bone mass and structural deterioration of bone tissue, leading to bone fragility and an increased susceptibility to fractures of the hip, spine, and wrist. In the U.S. today, over 10 million individuals already have osteoporosis and 18 million more have low bone mass, placing them at increased risk for this disease. What can be done about it? Exercise. What kind of exercise? Low-force, high-intensity strength training is the only safe and productive means of effectively addressing this disease. Some studies have shown increases in bone density as high as 1% per week with high intensity strength training. The SuperSlow exercise protocol was developed by Ken Hutchins as a result of his need to provide a safe method of high intensity training for the elderly women who’s training he supervised during the Nautilus funded Osteoporosis Study at the University of Florida (1982-1986).

Keep in mind that by “exercise” I mean high intensity strength training. Many of the activities that have been recommended as exercise by so-called “experts” in this field will do little or nothing to help anyone, and in some cases may even cause serious harm. Jogging, dance aerobics, and other high-impact steady-state activities are examples of this. Even Michael Pollock, PhD, a former member of Kenneth Cooper’s Aerobics Clinic, and past president of the American College of Sports Medicine agreed with Ellington Darden, PhD when he said “…all the aerobics activity and interest promoted within the fitness industry since the late 1960’s has not fostered any long-term vascular health. Instead, it has caused an epidemic of joint and spine injury.”

While proper exercise can be of tremendous potential benefit to anyone who performs it, one would be far worse off performing activities such as jogging, plyometrics, and various ballistic or “explosive” strength training protocols, than if they had never exercised at all. Not only are these activities not relatively effective means of stimulating meaningful improvements in any factor of functional ability, they can be downright dangerous. Often, the injuries and degenerative joint conditions which result from such activities will force a person to become much less active earlier in life, and may even reduce their ability to perform proper exercise, accelerating their loss of muscular strength and functional ability. If as a result of such activities one’s mobility begins to decrease earlier in life, then that activity has effectively shortened that person’s life. Loss of mobility is the first step towards loss of all other factors of functional ability, and eventually death.

There are many people out there who do not exercise either due to motivational problems or ignorance of what is actually required in terms of time invested to achieve meaningful results. They rationalize for this by making excuses about not having enough time or not being able to afford a gym membership or exercise equipment.

This simply is not true.

The amount of training time necessary to dramatically improve ones physical condition is far less than what most people have been led to believe; at the most an hour to an hour and a half per week, and in many cases considerably less. There are few people, if any, who can not schedule 30 to 90 minutes of their time each week for something so important.

Can’t afford it?

Wrong. You can’t afford not to exercise.

The cost of not exercising can be far greater than a lifetime of gym dues or one-on-one personal training. Heart surgeries can cost well over $200,000, and one must often spend as much as $5,000 per year on medication afterwards for the rest of their life. If, due to lack of exercise, your mobility prematurely decreases to the point where you can’t care for yourself, you may end up spending over $3,000 per month for the last 5 to 10 years of your life wasting away in a nursing home.

So, would you rather spend a few hundred per year on a gym membership or home exercise equipment or a few thousand a year on personal training and make the effort to stay fit? Or end up spending upwards of $30,000 per year to stay in a nursing home and have somebody else dress, feed, and bathe you, because you no longer possess the necessary level of functional ability to do so yourself?

Like the old saying goes, use it or lose it. If you can’t move, you can’t do anything but lie there and wait to die. If you value your life, proper exercise should be one of your highest priorities.

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