Question: What are the most important things that we must know about fitness and health in our lives?
Answer: Wow, that is a pretty broad question. One of the most important and most overlooked aspects of health is the mind-body connection.
This connection is both powerful and easy to overlook in our ‘modernized’ society.
I’ll explain further, but first a little history on mechanistic and vitalistic views on health.
From ancient times until the present there has been a debate that has raged. Most people today are not aware of it.
The debate is between two schools of thought that came out of ancient Greek culture.
If memory serves me correctly, I believe one of the arguments stemmed from Democrates.
The two points of view are very different in their approaches to dealing with sickness and health.
Today we are left with two theories which are seldom given a name. However, they heavily influence the practitioners of both camps. Here they are:
1. The model of Mechanistic Medicine
2. The model of Vitalistic Medicine.
On one side of the fence are your Medical Doctors who embrace the mechanistic model.
On the other side are your chiropractors, holistic healers, herbalists, Naturopathic doctors, who come closer to embracing the vitalistic model.
Mechanistic model of health care
The mechanistic model has reduced the health care of the human body to the equivalent of working on a car. ( a very complicated car).
The basic belief is that the body can be reduced to smaller and smaller parts that can be worked on (corrected). They are nothing more than parts to a machine which can be repaired, replaced, etc.
The Vitalistic Model of Health Care
The vitalists believe that there is an intelligence in the body ( or one that regulates the body regardless of where it resides). They believe the body can heal itself. They believe that there is an ethereal energy or life force that helps to regulate everything, including health.
You can see this idea pop up in various forms even in Hollywood movies. The Force in Star Wars for example.
In my opinion, the physicians of the future will merge the best parts of both models.
Mechanistic medicine is extremely good at emergency repairs of the body. You would want to go to the emergency room if you were hit by a car.
Mechanistic practitioners have a bit more trouble with chronic conditions and illnesses.
Because they only look at the symptoms and ignore underlying causes that cannot be seen, touched, felt or mathematically deduced they are somewhat limited in that arena (my opinion again)
The arena of chronic illnesses and health problems are dealt with a little bit better on the Vitalistic side of the house. They can often find root causes that mechanistic medicine completely overlooks precisely because they refuse to acknowledge things that can’t be broken down to their smallest (known) component.
So in a nutshell, there is a little history and explanation of our ‘modern’ state of health care.
The Mind-Body connection is a very important, but overlooked component to health and even fitness. The mind has been given much more control than we acknowledge.
I cite the case of Bernie Siegel as an example. If you haven’t read his book, Love, Medicine and Miracles, I suggest you do so. You will begin to understand how our thoughts affect the health of our bodies.
Bernie is a cancer surgeon who discovered that when his patients changed the way they viewed and related to their world, many times their cancer would go into remission.
Interesting, isn’t it?
Now Bernie is not the only notable exception of an MD dabbling in Vitalism. There are quite a few others.
One of the problems with medicine is that the doctors our bound by protocols that they must follow to protect themselves legally.
MDs are smart and highly educated, when they are courageous enough to take an honest look at things, they often conclude that there are many things outside of medicine that are useful in the realm of health and healing.
Here is a ‘secret’: the health of the mind goes hand in hand with ethics and morality. If the health of the body follows the mind, you can begin to see how immoral and unethical behavior actually affects our bodies.
Not many people want to hear that. And many will deny it.
Denying something that is true, doesn’t make it any less true. 🙂
Anyway, enough of my soap box.
Some less philosophical things that are important to health and fitness are:
1. Eating right – avoid junk food and eat healthy, nourishing food.
2. Clean water and minerals (including trace minerals)
3. Essential fatty Acids,
4. A variety of vitamins and supplements [aff]. (note: I do not advocate taking a bunch of supplements) Instead, I think they are useful in particular situations.
5. Exercise. Every human body needs exercise.
6. Sleep, the right amount of sleep. It is possible that less is better than more.
7. There are quite a few more items that I could list, but I’ll stop here.
I maintain that the mind is the most important component. The first place to look when the body is not healthy is towards the mind (in my opinion).
Many who read this won’t agree, so I challenge those who don’t agree to delve deeper into the realm of health and the human body.
Warning: if you have or think you have a health problem, visit your Primary care Doctor immediately for diagnosis and treatment!
If you have something to say on this topic, do so below, under the section that says ‘leave a reply’.