David A. Kaufmann: Life insurance or living assurance? – Opinion – Gainesville Sun

Most adults have life insurance, but do you have living assurance? With life insurance some individual receives a monetary award from your death. With living assurance the individual gets the benefits of adding quality years to a long life.

The biggest factor contributing to either a long, healthy life or a short life of sickness and disease is personal lifestyle habits.

The USA is the most economically powerful and affluent country in the world. Yet we have serious epidemic health problems. Most Americans are driven by hedonism. We can out eat, out drink, out party, out drive and out luxury-live most people on Earth.

We have a growing epidemic of type 2 diabetes, obesity, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, stroke, cancer and hypertension. Obesity is now a bigger contributor to disease and death than smoking.

Remember, flab is a four-letter word. One of the chief causes of these growing diseases is a sedentary lifestyle. The only exercise some people get is walking to and from their cars.

America is obsessed with “spectatoritis.” Spectatoritis is defined as when 90,000 people who desperately need exercise are watching 22 athletes who desperately need rest. We would rather watch high-paid, skilled athletes perform in entertaining sports than train and compete in sports for our own health.

Even in our fitness centers, our laziness is observed with clients sitting on a stationary bike, pedaling at a low load and watching TV. Or some clients taking the elevator up to the second floor to work out on the stair-stepper machine!

As a nation we overuse the automobile. Fifty years ago many Americans would walk to school, church, the credit union or even to work and only use the family car for longer trips and transporting equipment. Now many Americans drive everywhere, usually with empty seats, and then walk around the neighborhood to burn of some of the stored calories from excess sitting in their automobiles, watching TV or using the computer.

The solution to the problem is to return to a vigorous lifestyle that includes daily, vigorous physical exercise along with less driving, sitting and watching. Regular, physical exercise is “the fountain of youth.” We should drink from it daily! It can maintain proper weight control and your energy levels, and has the reward of avoiding the acquisition of the many degenerative and infectious diseases that plague our society.

There are four components of personal physical fitness. They are:

1. Flexibility: the ability of muscles/joints to extend and contract over a large range of movement

2. Muscular strength and endurance: the ability to lift a heavy weight one repetition or a lighter weight many repetitions

3. Circulorespiratory endurance (aerobics): the ability to transport oxygen into the cells to release energy

4. Body composition: maintaining the optimal amount of lean and adipose (fat) tissues in the body. The healthy level of fat in the body is 15 percent for males and 23 percent for females

The reason regular physical exercise results in such beneficial functional wonders is because of a biological natural law called the overload principle. It states that the use of a load (stress) acts as a stimulus for biochemical activity. This results in destruction of the biochemical environment and cell structure (catabolism). After exercise you acquire nutrition and rest. The final result is there is an overcompensating increase and restoration of the biochemical cellular environment and the quality and quantity of cell structure (anabolism).

The Bible states, “Whatever a man soweth, he shall also reap” (Galatians 6:7). If a person sows regular physical exercise, they will reap the benefits of turning back the physiological odometer on their body.

The consequences of the typical American lifestyle are that your tissues (cells, fibers, matrix and fluids) will shrink and lose their function. Your metabolism will switch from converting calories to useful energy to storing excess calories into fat tissue.

All Americans should have both life insurance and living assurance. The first step to attain living assurance is to put personal health high on your value list. It is more important than fun, fame and fortune. Health is wealth.

Make regular physical exercise a high priority in your daily life. Make sure you put working out into your daily schedule ahead of eating, shopping, TV watching and your social life. The premium of attaining living assurance (regular physical exercise) is worth paying. Go for it!

David A. Kaufmann is a retired professor of applied physiology at the University of Florida.

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