Some people believe that by reading my posts such as “The Simple Shark Test Made Easy” that I am an esteemed research scientist who probably has a Nobel prize or two resting on the mantle above my other accolades. Sorry to disappoint anyone but I lack the years spent at Harvard or any other top academic establishment. However, I can only create this story about why one should exercise from my many years of just observing in the field. If anyone wants to send this to the New England Journal of Medicine – Please do!
The Stage and the Stands
I was the supervisor for many years of a divided world and I saw so many similarities that spilled over to our daily lives. My divided world was being the supervisor of a stadium that housed a show that involved large toothed whales.
There was clearly a divide that started at the glass. On my side, there was throngs of normal tourists with normal lives and average habits. They were jammed onto long benches eating their giant bags of popcorn as they stared glassy-eyed at the show. On the other side of the glass was a different world altogether. The whales danced and frolicked with humans that were seemingly from some lost Amazon tribe. This divide seemed to spread to my employees as well. After the show, the members of the super race would confidently stroll over the glass and speak to my lethargic employees. When it was lunch time, my employees stuffed themselves with hotdogs while at the other table, the trainers ate their well crafted salads and fruits.
From time to time, one of my female crew members would receive the news that they were expecting a new addition to the family. This also extended to the trainers on the other side of the glass barrier. This is when I noticed the profound difference. My employees frequently developed medical conditions and were placed on light duty. Oddly enough, the female trainers were placed on light duty which meant that they were opening and closing the gates during the show which involved them running at full sprint and then pulling heavy chains across the gate. What was more shocking was that they would typically work almost up to their due date. A short time later they were back at work as if nothing major had happened.
I went through a period where I was not able to hit the gym as much as I wanted to and I was surfing a lot but slacking in the extra workout department. One day, I had to take a physical exam for work. I arrived at the clinic and the doctor put me through a stress test. When it was over, he was mulling over the results and I was getting my things in order when he turned to me and said, “So what do you do?” I was confused by what he meant. So I said, “excuse me?” He said, “What do you do? Do you run marathons?” I was baffled. I told him that I did not. I told him that I do train and that I surfed. He then looked at me and said, “Well, your numbers are inline with someone who is a triathlete.” I left smiling.
Working out seems to lay the foundation that lasts long after you stop. If you stop for a while, you can return with minimal effort. The opposite is true for smokers and people who do not exercise and abuse their bodies.
My father was very active when he was young but he picked up the terrible habit of smoking once he joined the military. After smoking for countless years, he one day managed to quit. It did greatly improve his health and his life improved.
After he passed, I received the results from his autopsy and I was taken aback by what the form said. In a section that said “Smoker – yes or no” the “yes” box was checked. So even though he had stopped many years earlier and his health was way better, there was still some residual damage that the doctor could tell he once engaged in this terrible behavior. My father had laid down the wrong foundation for his life.
This is why it is so important to take care of your health. If you smoke – do whatever you can to stop now. Changing your life towards being more healthy lays the way for being able to fight off illness, recover from accidents, and a countless myriad of other benefits.