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The Active Advantage

For all the emphasis the media places on fad exercise routines, and “shortcuts” to quickly burn fat and build muscle, it is ironically what we do when not exercising that is most imperative to our health and well-being.

Now more than ever, an “all or nothing” mentality is rampant in our society. Millions of Americans over-stimulate themselves in order to make it through their sedentary workdays in the office—fueling up on processed sugar and fast-food, only to completely crash when they get home. A sedentary lifestyle coupled with inadequate nutrition and sleep is highly taxing on the body, and no amount of artificial stimulants can prevent fatigue from inevitably settling in.

Generally, the first solution most people seek to solve this problem is exercise. But as aforementioned, adding gym sessions into a self-destructive lifestyle is not going to lead to good health, and in fact, may even be counter-productive. If an individual’s body has no means of recovering from the over-stimulation of sugar and processed junk food coupled with little to no rest, adding in the additional strain of activities like weight-training and running will only add to the problem.

By no means am I advocating people to avoid exercising, but it should be understood that exercise is only one component of a complete, healthy lifestyle, and before it can be utilized to an individual’s advantage, that individual must commit to their health across the board. While regularly performing cardiovascular and resistance training are excellent ways to maintain and improve health, this training will be of little to no use without a balanced diet and adequate sleep.

Think about it, you may spend anywhere from 30 minutes to three hours in the gym, but what about the rest of the day? We are not in the gym a whole lot more than we are, and it is in this time that a healthy lifestyle is truly developed.

In addition to a consistent diet and sleep schedule, one of the best ways for anyone to improve their health is through active rest.

This seemingly paradoxical phrase—active rest, can be defined as any activity that requires mobility and a moderate amount of energy, but is easy going enough that you can be carrying on a conversation while performing it.

Active rest can qualify as anything from taking a light bike ride to activities as simple as walking your dog and doing household cleaning. Basically, active rest can be defined as doing anything other than being a coach potato.

Here are a few benefits of making active rest part of your everyday life:

Heart Health and Body Composition

By regularly getting on your feet, whether that means playing with your kids in the park, building a cabinet, or riding your bike to work instead of driving, you are raising your base heart rate, and as a result, improving your cardiovascular health, metabolism, and your body’s ability to properly utilize calories—this means storing less body-fat and utilizing the food you are eating as fuel for lean-muscle.

Joint Health

Arthritis can plague anyone ranging from professional athletes broken down from years of training, to everyday people suffering with the condition as a result of a genetic disposition. Overstraining and further damaging these joints is absolutely detrimental to recovery, but letting them stiffen is almost as worse. Regular activity, even very light, can improve the condition of strained joints, and prevent future injuries from reoccurring. Yoga or even very light, basic stretching can do wonders for the prevention and reversal of joint pain.


By staying active throughout the day, you will notice that though you are working much harder than a coach potato, you will ironically feel much more productive and energized. Not surprisingly, you will also be getting a lot more done than if you were just sitting around.

This energy can be felt physically and mentally. For individuals working at a desk, it may seem ideal to simply sit in place hour after hour in order to meet your daily deadlines, but I have found that I am a much more efficient and focused writer when I take brief, hourly intermissions throughout my work span. I am not saying drop what you are doing and hit the gym for an hour, but doing things as simple as running out the garbage or washing a few dishes can be great ways to get on your feet and clear your mind, not to mention an easy way to alleviate responsibility at the end of the day.

While the perennial cycle of exercise marketing will continue to plague television screens, and the thousands of Americans buying into these shams will continue to negate the true root of their health concerns—lifestyle—in favor of consumerism, the good news is that none of us have to turn on the TV, nor do we have to poison our bodies with processed sugar and fast-food.

Every day we have the opportunity to better ourselves and those around us by leading productive and active lifestyles. Life all comes down to choice—which one will you make?

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