We all know that eating healthy and getting exercise is good for you but there are reasons to do so beyond what we can see just at face value. Unfortunately, we have no real control over how long we will be here, but we can take the effort to feel as best as we can while we are. This is referred to as "quality of life." Every once in awhile, it is a good idea to remind ourselves what we are working against... not necessarily all the things we are working towards.
There are many illnesses and diseases that are not necessarily caused by but associated with lack of exercise and poor nutrition. Due to genetic make-up, not everything is 100% avoidable just by taking care of yourself, however, it is possible to at least delay the inevitable. The following are just a few common disorders to consider:
- Osteoarthritis is a condition in which synovial joints ("moving" joints such as wrists, knees, hips and shoulders) lose healthy cartilage. Osteoarthritis is related to age and wear and tear along with bio mechanical factors and the consequences of inflammation. It only effects synovial joints. Although one possible cause is from repetitive pounding stress such as running or jumping without adequate support, regular exercise is a productive means of prevention as well as a treatment for it by helping to maintain a healthy range of motion, increasing stamina, promoting weight loss, and improving the strength of muscles surrounding affected joints.
- Osteoporosis is the reduction of bone density and increased fragility of bones. Osteoporosis usually develops as we age affecting mostly post-menopausal women and some men. Early developmental nutrition plays a vital role in decreasing the risk for this disease. It is important that our body receives adequate amounts of calcium for building strong bones. You can find calcium in dairy products and green, leafy vegetables. Smoking and alcohol consumption can increase the risk of developing osteoporosis. Weighted exercises will strengthen the bones of the body.
- Gout is a form of inflammation that develops in some people who have high levels of uric acid- called hyperuricemia, in the blood. The acid forms crystals in a joint and causes sudden, severe episodes of pain and swelling. Gout can usually be identified as painful, red swelling in the big toe but can also affect other lower body joints such as the ankle or the knee. Among other triggers, some of the causes of gout are excessive alcohol and diets rich in red meats, shellfish and sugary beverages such as soda. Historically, gout is known as the "disease of kings" due to their lavish eating habits. Educating yourself in nutrition and avoiding these trigger foods is a good strategy for keeping your joints happy and healthy.
- Prediabetes and Type II Diabetes is a disease that affects the way your body processes glucose, or blood sugar. Some of the risk factors for this disease can include obesity which increases the cell resistance to insulin, high blood pressure, low HDL or "good" cholesterol, and high levels of triglycerides. Not everyone who has these risk factors has diabetes and research is still being done but with exercise and proper eating habits it is safe to say that you can definitely decrease your chances of developing this class of diabetes.
Unfortunately, we are at constant risk for many other infections as well that can be contracted simply through physical contact. Maintaining healthy habits will promote a stronger immune system and faster metabolism. Just by exercising 30 minutes to an hour a day and practicing healthy eating, our bodies can prepare to fight back and defend itself against the many pathogens we come in contact with each day.