Cavemen rose early before sunrise, when the jungle air was pervaded with an abundance of fresh oxygen from the thick foliage of green canopies, shrubs and grass. Water vapour rises from the warm ocean while the cool breeze flows gently down the highlands across the natural greens, refreshing the caveman’s lungs and skin, along its way to the ocean. What a perfect environment for a joyful living and natural healing of the human body and mind.
Armed with blow pipes, jungle knives and sharp spears, cavemen walked and climbed across the terrain of hills, threaded across streams of strong current, climbed over rough and ragged rocks, and sometimes up to the tree-tops. On their return, they carried what they had successfully hunted and harvested, perhaps wild boars, deer, fruits, roots of carica, papaya, gourds and vegetables on their shoulder, back and over their head, returning happily while singing and rapping their tribal rhymes all the way home to their tribal village amidst the jungle melody of chirping birds and the sonorous flute-like calling of gibbons from afar.
Perhaps they were oblivious to the bites of mosquitoes, leeches and whatever loads on their back, shoulder and head that were probably not really a burden to their strong bodies and euphoric minds.
Nevertheless, time marches on. Our environment and conditions change too quickly for our human body to adapt. Perhaps, it is time for us to reflect and do whatever we can before we crash into the depth of no return.
Our body and mind with all their genetics and intrinsic properties are meant to move on throughout our lifespan in an equilibrium that maintains our best health and quality of life. This entails us to strike a balance between working to live and living to work. More accurately, it is working to earn a good living and living to have the best health and happy life.
Without good health and a happy life, a human being will become like a machine that is set to the default mode of just earning a living. The human mode of self-maintenance and savouring the joy of living are foolishly being switched off. This is exactly what we do when we say, “I have so much work to complete and there’s no time for exercise, rest or relaxation.”
One of the greatest faults of modern times is the invention of the boxes that confine us and the chairs that glue us on to a sedentary lifestyle. The unlimited trekking in the healthy natural environment of the cavemen is drastically reduced to the infrequent and short commutations between the ‘boxes’ of human invention.
The utilisation of our whole body for physical tasks is drastically limited to just sitting on a chair to perform limited digital movements over a long period of time. Is this what we call a good quality of life? Is this sort of lifestyle conducive to the development of good health and living?
Our body structure (the hardware), together with their genes (the software), is inherited from our parents in accordance with a mathematical probability of a very complex process of permutation and combination. The natural evolutionary engineering that makes small evolutionary changes to the human structure, to enable necessary adaptation to the changing environment, has enabled us to thrive right to this day. However, the unprecedented accelerated changes of ‘boxing up’, ‘gluing ourselves’ to the chair together with the digitalisation of most work processes over the past 50 years have not given human beings sufficient time to make the necessary adaptations to live a long, healthy and happy life.
There is a great time lag between the slow process of human evolution and the quick pace of ‘modernisation’. The evolution of the human body goes at a slow snail’s pace and comprises a complex process of mutations and natural selections over many generations. Thus, our body is still very much ‘ancient’ and more suited to the caveman’s lifestyle and environment.
The maintenance of our human body structure and functions entails us to continue moving around actively and doing multiple tasks – which involves exercising every part of our body. We need to simulate the caveman’s activities in the caveman’s environment from time to time to keep ourselves fit, healthy and in good shape.
All our organs become healthier with exercise. When we work our muscle, micro-tears occur within. It builds up bigger on repair. Our bone strengthens itself with more calcium absorption when they are used repeatedly to sustain heavy loads. Our heart also strengthens when it is required to pump more and faster.
Physical activities also activate our gut, increasing its efficiency in absorption of nutrients and excretion of waste products. Our blood vessels too, are activated to supply more oxygen and nutrients to our muscles and brain. They expand to allow more and quicker blood flow. Their tendency to become blocked is also markedly reduced.
During exercise, when our skin sweats, it removes excessive salts. It also secretes the oily sebum that contains bad cholesterol and lipid. Together with the dead cells of our skin, the oily sebum is removed as detritus that we rub off during our shower.
Our brain and nerves also generate new cells and form more connections called synapses with other cells when we exercise. More brain and nerve cells with more synapses lead to better efficiency of our brain and nerve function. All the changes secondary to exercise also contribute to good health. In addition, our mind de-stresses by anchoring itself to the activities of our exercise programme, more so, in a natural environment. Happy hormones are released during exercise. Our immune system strengthens and the cancerous tendency of all cells in our body decreases with the strengthening of our immune system.
Excessive fats are burned down to generate energy. As a result the fat cells shrink. This help to correct obesity that is associated with a host of medical diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, osteoarthritis, heart diseases, stroke, depression and many types of cancer. With exercise, many good genes are switched on and the bad ones switched off.
Being sedentary kills. Thus, there is no other choice other than to get up and move on. Do not let the conditions of this modern era kill us. Get out of those boxes, free our fingers, eyes and mind from the small digital box that we are so hooked-on. We need to exercise our muscles and all other organs including our mind. We have no choice but to move on. Do it now, for a long, healthy and happy life.
We gotta exercise because exercise is good medicine. It is the MAGIC PILL!
My column next week will be on ‘We are surrounded by germs’.
Dr. Victor Ti, MD, MFAM (Malaysia), FRACGP (Australia), Dip P Dermatology (UK), Dip STDs/AIDS (Thailand), Dip. AARAM (USA), LCP of Aesthetic Med.(Malaysia) is an experienced expat specialist generalist (Family Physician) of BH Clinic, Phnom Penh. As a specialist generalist, he is skillful at diagnosing all general diseases and excluding the sinister ones. Apart from the general diseases, Dr. Victor is also known for his skill in skin diseases, sexually transmitted diseases, minor surgery and aesthetic medicine. He can be contacted via email [email protected] Tel: 023900446 or Whatsapp: +60164122977