If you have read any of my articles or have heard me speak, the one thing that is consistent is my appreciation for the human body’s ability to function the way that it does. It is made up of 70 trillion cells, contains millions of miles of blood vessels, has a heart that beats 40 million times each year, and takes food and turns it into blood, muscle, and skin. Most of what it does, it does without us ever having to think about it. Your body is absolutely amazing!
We come equipped with an ability to adapt to our environment. As our environment changes, our body will change also in order for us to not only survive, but to function as best we can in that environment.
If I decided that I was going to start chopping wood every weekend, yet have never done it, my hands would be very raw and my muscles would be very sore. Initially, I might only be able to chop for ten to fifteen minutes. What would happen over the next several weeks and months? The skin on my hands would toughen up and calluses would form. The muscles that I use in the chopping motion would get stronger and bigger. My chopping time would increase, as would the amount of wood I cut.
My body would adapt to the environment I keep putting it in. It would recognize that I am continuing to chop wood, therefore, require certain changes to be able to better perform that activity. The human body will intelligently adapt to activities put upon it. That is a very, very smart design.
This is why regular physical activity is so important. Everyone talks about exercise in regards to calorie burning and fat reduction, but our bodies are designed to stay active and move to stay fit and function optimally.
Think about how active your children or grandchildren are. You were that active once also. Over time, your activity level has decreased. With this reduction in activity comes weaker, smaller muscles. Your heart does not have to work as hard, so it, too, gets smaller. Your joints do not flex as often or as far, so your range of motion has become more limited. Your bone density has weakened also, possibly even leaving you with osteoporosis. The smallest sacs in your lungs have not received air in so long that they have shriveled up, which makes you less efficient at utilizing the oxygen in the air and more prone to lung and breathing issues due to lack of use. The blood flow to your brain has lessened, affecting memory and cognitive ability. You’ve become slower at crossword puzzles, and it takes you a bit longer to remember names and faces.
Many chalk these changes up to getting older. While the body does wear down over time, most of these changes you see are the result of the body simply adapting to its environment. You haven’t used your muscles, so the body sees no need to build them. Why would the body lay down thicker bone density if you do not put your bones under enough stress to warrant thick bones? Energy will not be used by the body to build a bigger, stronger heart if there is no need. And why would those smallest sacs in the lungs remain intact if they aren’t being used?
Many doctors misinterpret these adaptive measures as medical conditions, and may even prescribe dangerous drugs in an effort to treat them. Don’t fall for this terrible mistake. Starting a simple exercise program will engage the body and stimulate the positive adaptive responses that will build weak muscles, thicken thinning bones, strengthen the heart, open up those smaller sacs in the lungs, and stimulate the brain’s ability to function more fully.
Don’t underestimate the power of your body. It’s always adapting. Tap into this amazing ability to feel and function better. And don’t mistake this adaptive response for a medical condition.