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Yep - There IS a natural drug!

 

Last updated 12/22/2020 at 3:57pm

Anyone who knows me, knows I'm anti-drug. I don't take them and neither does my family. It's a personal choice and one I made years ago after going through some horrible health issues due to pharmaceuticals. So to hear me touting a drug probably has some of you scratching your heads. Not to worry. I haven't lost my mind and gone over to the dark side.

I'm talking EXERCISE! It is my favorite alternative "drug" because it is easy, it increases the good hormones in our bodies, and it helps the body to stay strong and that includes the immune system.

Now when I refer to using exercise as a drug, I'm talking abut using something that is a daily thing in greater amounts to fight off some malady or condition. Like Vitamin C. I take that every day, but during cold and flu season, I increase my levels to 5,000 – 8,000 mg per day. So exercise as a drug will be different than the regular levels we see.

When using exercise as a drug, it is important to set a goal of 60 to 90 minutes per day, every day. Obviously, depending on your current condition, you may need to work slowly up to this level. My experience is that weight-bearing exercises, such as walking, jogging, running, Nordic Track and Health Rider are better than cycling and swimming. If you have access to a health club, my favorite piece of equipment there is the elliptical machine.

Though, with the whole COVID thing, most gyms are shut down, and consequently, many are suffering from what is now being labeled "The Quarantine 15." Seriously. Most people complain of gaining around 15 pounds because of not being able to get to the gym, increased snacking and, dare I say, the depression that goes with being forced to stay in our homes.

One of the largest obstacles faced by people who haven't exercised in some time is how to get started. Just the thought of starting an exercise program can be intimidating. Whenever patients ask me what kind of activity is best, my answer is always the same: Walking is a wonderful way to get started. It is very low impact, so it is easy on the joints.

In fact, most people find it is simple and enjoyable to fit a walk into their day. It is also one of the most cost effective ways to get exercise, as it does not require much training and the only equipment needed is a good pair of walking shoes. You can walk just about anywhere, and you can do it anytime.

So what makes walking a workout? This depends on your initial fitness level. If you are starting out in poor shape, slow-paced walking will produce benefits, but if you are starting out in better condition, you will need to walk faster and/or farther to see any results.

Regardless of your starting level, the more vigorous your walking pace, the more dramatic the conditioning effects will be. When walking for exercise you should walk at a steady pace that is fast enough to cause your heart rate to rise.

With the holidays upon us and the added stress of COVID and the regulations keeping us inside, having a source of daily exercise is critical to keep the stress at bay as well as the extra weight that may come along with it.

Stay healthy, my friends. Be smart about this. If you are symptomatic, please stay home and be smart. But if not, get outside in that sunshine, that even in the winter, is a blessing of living on the Front Range.

Valere! (Be Well!)

Karen

Editor's note: Have questions for the herbalist? Email them to: [email protected]

 

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