You must have seen this picture which I find symbolic in so many ways. Have we created a world that no longer fits into our physical and emotional make-up that has evolved over tens of thousands of years?
Our ancestors in the hunter and gatherer societies lived in small communities with physical fitness as one of the preconditions of survival. In our modern world we are basically confined to a chair in the office which wreaks havoc to our bodies.
Lack of exercise accompanied by a poor diet has led to a phenomenon we find in almost all the industrial countries. In the early part of the last century infectious diseases were the main cause of death. We have made huge progress in this field through better hygiene and medicine which has rapidly increased life expectation but we need to take a closer look at the quality of our longer life.
A large proportion of us have more or less accepted a condition of being neither healthy nor sick. In many countries every second person over the age of 80 is in frail care.
Illnesses that have hardly been known to mankind such as obesity, diabetes II, cancer and burnout are skyrocketing. According to a World Health Organisation (WHO) report we paradoxically have a situation where malnutrition is co-existing with “an escalating global epidemic” of obesity with millions likely to suffer from an array of serious health disorders.
We have not even begun understanding the psychological side-effects of lack of exercise, poor diet and mental illness such as depression. The Canadian molecular biologist Richard Béliveau estimates that one third of all cancer is linked to poor eating habits. A diet consisting of a mix of fruits, vegetables and drinks, such as green tea, can lead to the absorption of up to 1-2g of anticancer phytochemicals per day. “We, therefore, believe that daily consumption of these different foods is a simple and effective method to counter the development and progression of cancer,” he writes.
Beliveau also found that much of the populations in industrial societies lack essential Omega 3 fatty acids with a high percentage of Omega 6 (eating too many industrially produced carbohydrates).
Interestingly patients suffering from chronic exhaustion (Burnout) or depression all reveal extremely low levels of Omega 3. Study after study is revealing that a diet rich in Omega 3 (e.g. fish, avocado,chia seeds) is having amazing success in the treatment of mental illness.
Our capacity to deal the modern stress factors is immensely increased in looking at our diet and getting more exercise. But going for the hard power sports might do you more harm than good. If you have a stressful life you will add to the stress hormones in your body by taxing your body with a sport that puts you to the limit. Its all about finding the right combination of body movement that fits your age group and your level of fitness.
The WHO recommends for adults aged between 18-64 at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity of activity per week. This you can spread during the week in 10-15 minutes sequences. Most people will say they don’t have the time. But take this: In the United States the average time spent in front of the TV per person per day is 4.8 hours!