When I (Carol) took the Memorial Sloan Kettering online oncology course for acupuncturists, the recommendation for healthy people to exercise 30-60 minutes a day was the standout detail from the entire, 30+ hours of lectures.
That’s 30-60 minutes, seven days a week of formal exercise, not including the time you may spend traveling, changing, or cleaning up. And movement for our daily peregrinations, though better than nothing, doesn’t count.
Why, I wondered, did they advocate 30-60 minutes a day, and then it hit me: our DNA is programmed to move a lot more than we do in the 21st Century. It’s only been about 250 years since the Industrial Revolution, and many conveniences we take for granted didn’t exist before then. For our ancestors, chores and travel demanded constant physical effort; physiological evolution doesn’t change as quickly as our world has, so we have to accommodate our body’s needs by moving more.
Moving is one of the main ways to reduce your risk of getting cancer, because where there is blood flow, free radicals cannot pile up. When you regularly engage in steady, sustained movement, blood perfuses throughout your body.
Once I grasped this fact, I took up the challenge, and found it easy to justify the time spent, because being cancer-free is a compelling motivator. Viewed in this light, choosing to move is as simple as standing on one side of a line and stepping over it to the other side.
Regular exercise has many benefits, including leveling out the stresses encountered in a day.
If you are new to exercise, begin slowly and build up to it. You will find the body grows stronger exponentially, for it’s designed to do this. Expect some aches and pains as you make progress, but pay attention to the quality of pain to avoid injury (so you can continue working out!). If you overdo it, don’t give up, just take a break and get some acupuncture or a massage to speed the healing.
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