The further into the future we go, the more complicated the simple things in our lives become!

There was a time when the basic activities of the day took care of all of the exercise anybody needed.

Hoeing a few rows of the garden plot got the heart rate up and worked the large muscles, and kneading the dough for the week’s supply of bread also helped to ensure that strength was maintained.

Obviously, I know that’s not everybody’s cup of tea, and most Americans have worked hard to leave that sort of thing behind, and prefer sitting on their behinds!

The problem is, without serious conscious effort and determination, most of us these days are not as healthy as we could be because most of our activities are performed sitting down.

Instead of walking over the hill to the berry patch and soaking up some sunshine while we pick a basket of berries, we drive to the grocery store and grab a bag of frozen berries and a bottle of vitamin D capsules.

Scientists who have studied the decline of the modern human have discovered that there are two kinds of exercise that are lacking in the urban world that previous lifestyles supplied naturally.

Most everyone has heard of aerobic or “cardio” exercise, and how it’s important in reducing the risk of modern lifestyle diseases, but what does that mean exactly?

In order to qualify as aerobic exercise, you must engage in an activity for a period of 15 to 20 minutes or longer while maintaining 60-80% of your maximum heart rate. Do you keep at it that long if/ when you exercise?

If your exercise session is shorter than that and leaves you panting and gasping for air, you cross the line into an anaerobic workout. Not that doing so is a bad thing, of course, because you need both. (And you would surely have both if you were taking care of your chores on the old homestead!) You can also tell the difference because anaerobic work will tire you out faster and is more likely to make you sore afterward.

Aerobic activity is, as you might imagine, the type of exercise that people usually notice the most obvious benefit from, and it’s also somewhat difficult to come by in modern society, due to the busy lifestyles we maintain. Aerobic exercise takes time to do properly; a relatively large chunk of time, relatively speaking, and ideally we need to get a good session of it every day. It’s long in duration but low in intensity. (Like a natural lifestyle) It makes you breathe deeply and your blood flows faster, but if you’re working (or “working out” as the case may be) with a companion, you should still be able to carry on a conversation. Aerobic exercise is fueled with the breath.

Some chores like chopping and stacking rounds of firewood (or intense repetitions of lifting heavy iron bar weights) is in the anaerobic category, meaning it is short-lasting, heavy, and or vigorous, activity. Anaerobic exercise uses energy that is stored in the muscles and is not dependent on oxygen from breathing. During anaerobic exercise your body’s demand for oxygen exceeds the oxygen supply, and there is a temporary shortage of oxygen being delivered to the working muscles.

Another thing that occurs when one is working anaerobically, is that lactic acid is produced and in the beginning fatigue occurs quickly, along with sore muscles, but with persistence endurance will build and you can work (out) longer before you get tired. This would have practical applications if you were working on the homestead because the increase of endurance might mean that you could work faster, as well as longer, if you were trying to finish an outdoor chore before it rained on you…

When lactic acid builds up to a certain level in the blood, it causes muscular fatigue, and so one cannot keep up that pace for very long. Back on the farm, this would mean that you’d vigorously work away at digging your garden plot until you have to stop, lean on your mattock or hoe for half a minute or so to catch your breath, and then go at it again. Now the scientific way to go about it is to lift iron weights for half a minute or so, give or take, then rest for ten or twenty seconds and have another go, until you’re fairly well worn out, and you’ll have had yourself an anaerobic workout!

As endurance increases, the body is able to handle the lactic acid more efficiently, and that’s a good thing on a number of levels.

Several metabolic changes take place when one increases the level of regular intense exercise (or hard work as the case may be). There is a decrease in the production of lactic acid, and increased efficiency of the removal of it from the bloodstream, which delays the occurrence of fatigue during anaerobic exercise.

Research indicates that this efficiency is increased by 12% to 50% with regular anaerobic activity.

Of course having said all of that, I’d better lay in the standard disclaimer: “Always check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program or adding any additional exercise to an existing routine.”

In any case, it’s only common sense that beginners should start with lower-intensity aerobic exercise if this will be a rare foray away from the computer desk and couch. A nice long walk is an ideal place to begin an exercise program, because it’s relatively easy to safely control how much you exert yourself, especially if you take a friend with you. Remember the conversation rule, and pace yourself so that you can still talk as you go, but not so slowly that your breathing does not deepen at all. Even if you can’t convince anybody to going along, then go with God; a “Prayer Walk” is great for the spiritual health as well as physical well being!

Category: Health
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