I know it’s human nature to try to find the easiest way of doing something and to look for ways to avoid unnecessary work. Unfortunately, our modern tools of convenience and entertainment have led us to the couch where we watch others move their muscles instead of moving our own. Why then is it a surprise that we feel so tired, weak, sad, and listless as we just sit there? What makes it worse is that while we’re watching, somebody advertises a pill that falsely promises to provide all the same good health benefits that come from the exercise we are lacking. Is it a surprise that we believe it?
A friend told me about his brother who actually said, “I don’t have to exercise or watch what I eat anymore since I’m taking a statin (lipid-lowering drug).” Indeed, many medicines, herbs, and vitamins inappropriately promise that sort of thing.
In fact, there are many people who will sell you medicine which promises to prevent strokes, heart attacks, hardening of the arteries, and aging. Many of these pills have some theoretical basis for that promise. Take for example vitamin E, which had a large group of scientists thinking it could prevent premature aging. In a long-term study, however, vitamin E simply didn’t make any significant difference in reducing heart attack, stroke, or death.
Another example of a false promise is chelation. A very specific treatment for heavy metal poisoning, chelation has recently become popular in alternative medicine practices as a treatment for heart disease, theoretically decalcifying the arteries to prevent heart disease and strokes. One would like it to work, but under scientific scrutiny, it simply removes necessary calcium from your bones and doesn’t significantly reduce vascular calcium deposits. Those who advertise chelation will tell you differently, but (as you know, dear reader) words that are meant to sell a product are different than words meant to explain a scientifically proven fact.
Bottom line: There is no magical pill or potion for the condition of inactivity. Watching others run down the football field won’t improve your vascular health or give you the energy, strength, and positive attitude that comes with a walk or a work out. Walk a mile (12 blocks) a day and see what happens. Exercise is powerful medicine; you just have to do it.
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