For thousands of years, humanity has struggled to understand the place of men and women in the universe. All sorts of explanations have been brought forward, many proposing that humanity is part of a greater whole and helps contribute to the welfare of all. Equally many theories suggest that humanity is the center of the universe for which all else exists. Whether one conceives that humankind is a contributing partner in the web of life, or whether one takes the position that humans rule over all else, taking what we need from the resources freely provided, all can agree there is much to be learned from the natural world.
In particular, men and women can learn how to maintain a healthy physical existence. But it seems we have not learned the lessons available with any sort of effectiveness. Research shows that more than half of all adults in the United States have at least one chronic disease. Worldwide, chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and cancer account for more than 60% of all deaths annually. Recently, the prevalence of chronic diseases has been largely attributed to lifestyle. Whether you consistently eat a nutritious diet and engage in regular vigorous exercise has a great deal to do with your present state of health and the likelihood of developing a life-threatening chronic disease in the future.1,2
If we were paying attention, even those of us who live in urban areas would recognize that all other forms of life with whom we share this planet engage in regular exercise daily. For example, it seems that birds only really rest when they’re asleep for the night. Rabbits and squirrels are continually on the move searching for food. Bees are constantly in flight and ants are always on the march. Even plants get their exercise through daily phototropic behaviors, turning their stalks, extending their stems, and turning their leaves toward the sun to obtain their form of daily nutrition. And, of course, except for domesticated pets and animals caged in zoos, you never see an overweight or obese robin, finch, hawk, bunny, or bumblebee.
Thus, it’s important to recognize that even with our vaunted self-awareness and reasoning ability, we are nonetheless quite similar, physiologically at least, to all other creatures. We don’t need to develop a radical cosmic consciousness, but it is necessary to be able to discern what’s beneficial for us. Extending the well-known proverb, what’s good for the goose is not only good for the gander but good for us, too. By making our own the regular, sensible habits of other living beings, men and women around the world can obtain higher levels of health, wellness, and well being, now and into the future.3
1Street SJ, et al: Windows of opportunity for physical activity in the prevention of obesity. Obes Rev 2015 Jul 29. doi: 10.1111/obr.12306. [Epub ahead of print]
2Blaize AN, et al: Impact of Maternal Exercise during Pregnancy on Offspring Chronic Disease Susceptibility. Exerc Sport Sci Rev 2015 Jul 21. [Epub ahead of print]
3Smith CJ, Ryckman KK: Epigenetic and developmental influences on the risk of obesity, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. Diabetes Metab Syndro Obes 8:295-302, 2015