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Instep Dance Magazine Articles

Reprints of monthly column as first appearing in Instep Dance Magazine.

March 1999

Exercise: The Best "Drug" in the World

By Rick Allen, DC

"Better health leads to better dancing."

It's been said that we have three ways to rid ourselves of stress: alcohol, drugs or exercise. The first two have obvious detrimental effects. Exercise, on the other hand, has many beneficial effects. As Covert Bailey says, "If the benefits of exercise could be put into a bottle, it would be the most widely-prescribed drug in the world." Guess that makes exercise the best "drug" in the world!

Yet, when I counsel a patient to exercise, I often get an answer like, "Yeah, doc, I know all about exercise and diet, but what can I really do to help?"

Often it appears that things with which you are very familiar are automatically either ignored or discounted. Don't ignore or discount this miracle cure. Among the many benefits of exercise are:

  • Cardiovascular benefits - lowers total cholesterol, lowers the bad LDL cholesterol, raises the good HDL cholesterol, decreases blood pressure, decreases frequency of heart disease.
  • Immune system benefits - decreases number and severity of colds and flu, decreases rates of cancer.
  • Digestive benefits - improves digestion, cures constipation.
  • Blood sugar benefits - helps normalize levels, preventing or controlling hypoglycemia and adult diabetes.
  • Obesity - increases use of calories at rest (with a carry-over effect to the next day!), increases muscle-to-fat ratio, routine use over years cures obesity.
  • Mental health benefits - lowers stress, elevates mood, enhances sense of well being, eases depression and grief.
  • Sexuality benefits - enhances sexual enjoyment, regular use enhances sexual attractiveness.
  • Miscellaneous benefits - improves body odor, decreases tendency to abuse damaging drugs, alcohol and tobacco, increases average life span, improves quality of life (especially in later years). I'd call exercise the ULTIMATE anti-aging "drug."

Philip Santiago, DC, DACBSP and a member of the Academy of Anti-Aging noted recently that "People who are physically fit, eat a healthy, balanced diet and take nutritional supplements can measure out to be 10 to 20 years younger biologically than their chronological age."

So why doesn't everyone use this miracle "drug", especially since it's inexpensive and readily available? The answer is that you can't just go out and buy a bottle. Everyone has to put in time and effort to get their own personal supply.

It doesn't matter if you were physically active in your younger years. If you're not currently engaged in a physical-activity program on a regular basis (including dancing!), your body is not receiving the innumerable health-related benefits of exercise.

Take another look at the list of benefits. Start taking the steps now toward better health. Even little baby steps like you took long before you learned to dance will pay tremendous dividends long-term.

Next article: It's been a while since I heard from you readers. Drop me a note or an e-mail or give me a call with your suggestions for my next article.

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