Physical Activity Can Add Years to Your Life
We all have friends, loved ones, co-workers, that we talk to every day—people who prefer inaction and then wonder why they don’t feel well. People who would rather take a pill and expect a quick fix, and then wonder why they still don’t feel well. Procrastination is one thing when it comes to changing the oil in your car, but procrastination about taking responsibility for your own self-care, that’s a different story, too often with a sad ending.
The time to do something about your health is not after something bad happens. The time to do something about your health is right now. Although no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.
So if you want to add years to your life—quality years, to boot—you’ve got to move, regularly and with intention: the intention being the self-creation of a longer life, and enjoying it to its maximum. So how can physical activity offer this to you? Clearly, my preference is yoga, however, that may not be yours. You alone must determine your own preference, and then make it an integral part of your life.
So I’ll tell you in a nutshell how physical activity can add years to your life.
The body has two pumps: the heart and the lymphatic system. The heart is a muscular cardiac pump and thankfully, it pretty much beats on its own. The lymphatic system, however, requires you to do something because it has to BE pumped in order to do its job. You've probably seen those net-like plastic bags that citrus fruit can come in... Well, underneath our skin, lies a similar net-like fabric built of substances that include collagen and elastin. Flowing throughout this net-like fabric is lymph; and lymph carries with it cellular waste products that can build up in the body and cause illness. The lymphatic system is our built-in cleansing system, and works in concert with the circulatory system. The job of the lymphatic system is to flush away the body’s dirty dishwater.
The word “lymph” is Latin and means “water goddess.” Like water, lymph is a clear, colorless liquid, and it runs throughout the entire body like a slow moving river. Inside each lymph cell are tiny inner warriors called lymphocytes that, through cellular memory, help to fight off infection and disease by maintaining a strong immune system. Because the lymphatic system has no pump, it requires physical stimulation to circulate the lymph from the body tissues back toward the heart. The best way to keep our slow moving river flowing is through movement and deep breathing. The only action that encourages the flow of lymph is movement. Movement moves the river of life that keeps you alive and healthy; it’s that simple.
The best way to include movement (or exercise) is to include activities in your life that you simply love to do. Connecting with the body through movement stimulates the mind and the spirit—and the lymph. Massage helps keep the lymph moving, and helps to prevent the accumulation of cellular debris. (This is why massage is not indicated for anyone with an infectious disease.) I feel blessed to have fallen in love with yoga as my movement du jour, since with all its squeezing and twisting, yoga is the best activity to move the river of lymph. However, any exercise or physical activity is good; the more you love it, the more you’ll do it.
By not exercising regularly, in essence you are telling the river of life in your body to clog, to sludge, to block—to not flow. More specifically, not moving tells your cells to age, and ultimately to die.