Common Sense Exercise


Alexander Liss






     One's body and mind adapts perpetually to circumstances. Challenged areas improve and unused areas shrink. Even bones, are in a perpetual process of rebuilding.

     In early years, the growth itself provides challenge in many areas of the body and mind and they improve. In late years, diminished abilities lead to removal of different forms of activities, reduction of challenge and deterioration of the body and mind.

     To prevent deterioration, one has to challenge the body and mind. In early years, only some areas require conscious artificial challenge, the rest is done automatically by growing body. When the body stops growing, one has to challenge the body and mind just to maintain a desirable level of their characteristics.

     The body and mind adapt with oscillation of own characteristics. This oscillation could be masked, because it is combined with dynamic of growth or deterioration. Because the challenge should elicit an effort in correspondence with current level of one's abilities and should not stress the body or the mind, it should be designed to oscillate together with the body and mind abilities. Hence, one's feeling of the load and not objective measurements and yesterday's achievements should govern each instance of challenge. This is different from the athletes training.

     Exercises are specially designed challenges. One selects exercises from a set of well-tested exercises, or even invents one's own, when needed. Some exercises challenge a few areas simultaneously, others are narrowly focused; each group has its uses.

     Unlike exercises of athletes, challenges do not require a lot of time, but they have to be regular and they have to cover many areas of the body and mind functioning.

     Because some areas of the body and mind are challenged automatically by everyday activities, these areas do not need an artificial challenge; hence, the set of exercises is selected individually.

     Following provides a description of areas, which potentially need an exercise, and variants of exercises. 

     There are two types of exercises for muscles, one increases muscle mass - it includes slow exercises on the edge of one's abilities, and the other trains muscle tonus - it includes multiple and fast contractions of muscles with load somewhat below one's limit. Exercises focused on a particular group of muscles (exercise machines) are useful here, because the body routinely redistributes the load from weak muscles to strong ones. Merely 15 min. a day provide a good challenge.

     Exercises of breathing and cardio-vascular system include muscular activity for a defined long period demanding efficient delivery of oxygen to muscles. The exercise is done on the edge of one's ability in sense that muscles and breathing systems are tiered in the end of this period. Running is a good exercise of this type.  

     Bones are usually exercised automatically with muscles and cardio-vascular system.

     Tendons and other connectivity tissues require stretching exercises. Yoga is a good initial source of such exercises. Usually a few Yoga exercises are selected and adapted to serve as stretching exercise. In Yoga exercises, there is a good safeguard against a dangerous stress: one should stop an exercise, when one feels pain.

     Sweat glands are usually exercised during running and focused muscles exercises.

     The digestive system is exercised by eating of large amounts of "fiber". This also helps to normalize the digestion process. Hence, it should be done with every meal intake.

     The body's water regulation system is exercised by drinking of large amount of water, not to be retained, but to be removed quickly by the body. This is also useful as general means of toxin removal from the body. In hot climates, it also helps with temperature regulation. Yoga recommends it every day; however, it seems to be sufficient, when it is done sometimes.

     To function properly, the mind has to be challenged. Engagement in social activity provides a good venue for such challenge. All forms of social activity should be engaged: oral presentations, discussions, reading and writing. This has to be done on the edge of one's ability.

     Contrary to popular opinion, emotions have to be exercised. Close relationships with someone help in doing it, because they perpetually surprise and elicit emotions. Entertainment is designed to provide such exercise; it makes sense to use it.

     Aging increases number of areas, where exercises are not done automatically and have to be introduced consciously. The sooner one realizes it, the better.

     While one is young, exercises are done to improve and impress and there are visible signs of improvement every time. With age, they are done to maintain, and because of natural oscillation, there are sometimes signs of degradation in spite of exercises. This should not discourage - it is important to keep exercising regularly. To make it interesting, one could select one area, where one keeps a high level of exercises, which recognizably improve the fitness of the body and mind. However, the main purpose of exercises of an aging body and mind is maintaining its level of fitness.