Sport and physical exercise are not one thing. They represent a family of activities that put our body and mind into motion, with some resulting benefit. With the caveat of avoiding injuries, three types of physical exercise make us stronger, faster, more endurant and help us experience life longer.
Dogs grew up in nature, and they stayed in nature for longer than we humans have. Since we are ‘smarter’ than them, the advent of civilization has trapped us into automation, excess comfort, sitting and being indoors most of the day. Dogs who live inside a house often wait for one thing: the opportunity to go outside to be able to run, to breather fresh air, to elevate their heart rate. When I take my dog Mocha for a run he has so much energy that after 4 miles at pace, he still outruns me while jumping to play-bite the leash. Half way through the trail, we find a small pond full of fresh and clean water from recent rainfall. Since we do this path on a routine basis, he anticipates this spot from a mile away, being able to run in the water left to right multiple times. Running and playing in nature is part of the dog’s DNA. He is made for this, having lived with us since being a small puppy and not having learned these habits by observing older dogs. He just knows: if one can run, roam in nature, play in water, this will be time well spent.
Physical activity doesn’t just make us feel better. It improves our physiological performance and ability to stay young in mind, heart, and every part of the body: 640 muscles and 206 bones. This assumes that one avoids injury during exercise, and in life generally.
Sports tend to specialize the practitioners and develop different physiological profiles. Hence, the skinny cyclist will leave the body builder and his muscles in the dust when both are on a bike, climbing a mountain. But that skinny guy may not be able to lift his own feather weight. Don’t make him try an arm wrestling game with the body builder, he may in fact get hurt during the five seconds the contest will take. This means it’s very possible to be athletic, proficient into one sport, and think that we have attained our objectives when it comes to sustainable fitness as a way to live strong. If we are too unbalanced, that is, too weak in some aspects, our strengths don’t make up for the weak spots.
We can categorize the types of exercise into three buckets.
- Endurance. The first bucket deals with cardio-vascular strength and the ability for the body to elevate heart rate and energy production for a long period of time. This is endurance.
- Speed and strength. The second category deals with strength. We may be very strong but have no endurance, just like we may be able to run a marathon and have no strength. Yet, the two complement each other.
- Physical conditioning. Finally – the third category comes from former PE teacher, gymnastics champion and now centenarian athlete Robert Marchand, physical conditioning. This includes exercises of flexibility, warmup, balance, and overall strengthening and exertion of all muscles and joints in the body, which may not be used in any of the former two types of physical activity.
There is debate whether sex is a sport or not. Hedonists in France call is bedroom sport, for the fact that the individuals involved get to have a good time, elevating their heart rate and practicing some level of strength training while releasing stress. Emerging studies show that the practice of sex, like the practice of sport, can significantly reduce the incidence of cancers, such as those affecting prostate. The saying “function creates the organ” indicates nature gave us organs for a purpose and not using them leaves us not only more fragile, but also devoid of the experience they provide.