Through the 2020 pandemic, I found that a lot of people were either slowing down or most of the time they stopped moving – they just stopped exercising.
The human body is designed to move; without it we would cease to exist. As exercise decreases, health and longevity also decrease, which means exercise is important enough to sustain life. Look at the human form. Without blood pressure we cannot move our blood; Therefore our heart has to be in constant motion. Without blood transport, we cannot deliver oxygen, nutrients or medication to our tissues and ultimately our cells and then send the blood back to be refilled. Then there is our lymphatic system, which carries fluids that help transport waste out of the body's cells and organs. When we are tired we sleep, the more important aspect of which requires quick eye movement. After all, from a macroscopic point of view, it is a common human instinct to move, travel, and seek new environments.
Lately and in the last year many of us have had to give up much of the usual exercise: getting around town in our cars, going to town, or maybe flying to another part of the world. COVID-19 happened and we all slowed down and stopped moving so much. Many of us got more tired, and when we moved again we found that we had lost motivation or just weren't as interested in moving or exercising as we were before our country's health crisis. The movement of muscles, bones and the entire human organism is important in maintaining the flow. Otherwise, as we settle down, our blood will become sluggish. Slow blood, while not a true medical term, can result in what some refer to as “stickier blood,” which, medically, means hypercoagulable. In a hypercoagulable state, there is certainly a risk of a blood clot, which often starts in the lower parts of the legs. This is also a way of saying that someone is inflamed or has severe inflammation in their body. Proper exercise, therefore, is a way to reduce inflammation and maintain the flow of nutrients to tissues.
We couldn't have a discussion of inflammation and blood flow without talking about oxygen dynamics. In order to survive, we have to breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide. As a reminder, plants do the opposite – one of the many reasons why we get along so well with plants. When we breathe oxygen, it is carried across several different membranes and eventually into red blood cells, which are then responsible for delivering the oxygen to each cell in the body. Without proper movement, the blood is sluggish and oxygen is not delivered efficiently. So what? Well, when a cell is deprived of oxygen, it shifts its metabolic machinery to adapt to its less preferred environment. In this case, symptoms such as headache, shortness of breath, and pain appear. If this becomes chronic, we can move into a disease state that is presented differently depending on the situation, circumstances, diet, sleep patterns and fluid intake, among other things.
How much exercise
People move differently; Some jump, some run, some run and some prefer to swim. Babies crawl and the older we get, the less we tend to move. Some people move more than others, and some need fast movements (like basketball) while others prefer longer, slower movements (like yoga). Some prefer movement and others prefer what we call movement without movement (parking far away, taking the stairs, not the elevator, gardening). The important part is doing something every day. Through the 2020 pandemic, I found that a lot of people were either slowing down or most of the time they stopped moving – they just stopped exercising. Then I saw that people's laboratory tests changed as a result. They also began to eat differently and became more tired. In fact, many people did not leave their homes for weeks and as this happened their bodies and systems became sluggish.
It is important to remember to move even when watching TV, spreading your arms wide and doing 50 arm circles. Or, while talking to your spouse in the living room, do a plank or even squat or toe or jumping jack – even just five at a time. The point is, you are doing something related to exercise-based movement. Many people have physical limitations due to illness. Some people cannot get up without help. In such a case, I would most likely recommend moving your arms deliberately, even raising and lowering your arms as fast or slow as possible ten times in a row, and repeating this set three times – three to ten times a day. Then, with assistance, stand up and sit down five times a day. Along with proper nutrition, that person will become stronger and eventually be able to move more.
The point is, we all need to move – life depends on it – but as always, we are all always in unique situations. FBN
By Dan Rubin, N.D., FABNO
Dan Rubin, ND, FABNO, is the founding president of the Oncology Association of Naturopathic Physicians. He is a co-founder of the Aspen Integrative Medical Center in Flagstaff and the medical director of Naturopathic Specialists, LLC in Scottsdale.