1. Vis Medicatrix Naturae
Nature possesses a deep, inherent healing ability.
Indeed, healing literally means "to make whole".
Effortlessly maintaining health.
Ensuring freedom from disease.
Even promoting overall well-being and happiness.
But that healing ability can be impaired.
By toxins - substances, emotions, and behaviours alike.
Such obstacles to nature's healing ability must be removed.
Those obstacles in the path of both:
- "Capital N" (Universal) Nature, and
- "little n" (Individual) nature.
So what does nature have to do with fitness?
2. Exercise In Accordance With (Your) Nature
And it will support you.
3. Support "Capital N" (Universal) Nature
Choose natural over synthetic.
4. Choose Natural Environments
Earth over asphalt.
Unpolluted, natural sources of water over chemically-treated pools and sports drinks.
Natural, unfiltered, full-spectrum sunlight over harsh fluorescent bulbs.
Fresh, outdoor air over recycled, air-conditioned, mold-filled, Sick-Building-Syndrome-inducing indoor environments.
Numerous studies suggest such natural environments not only increase overall well-being, but offer significant and specific fitness benefits.
Relative to their indoor counterparts, outdoor exercise regimes have been associated with more positive affective responses - including significantly improved mood and increased degree of exercise performed.
Not only that, but those performing exercise outdoors are better able to maintain such regular exercise long-term.
Other studies demonstrate that levels of cortisol - a hormone associated with increased stress, increased fat deposition, and increased muscle loss - are significantly lower in those exercising outdoors rather than indoors.
Cardiologist and author James O'Keefe, MD - widely recognized for his studies on exercise, diet, and cardiovascular disease - has found that exercising "like a hunter-gatherer" is associated with "optimize[d] gene expression" and "robust health".
How exactly does one "exercise like a hunter-gatherer"?
5. Choose Natural Exercises
Bodyweight exercises over vertebrae-popping power jerks.
Such rigid, repetitive routines are associated with:
- plateaued gains
- increased injury
- increased boredom
- increased aversion to exercise in general
All of which ultimately worsen health.
6. Choose Natural Clothing
As introduced in last week's discussion of the naturopathic and homeopathic treatment of low back pain, pain frequently manifests in a location distant from its source.
Obstacles to lymph, blood, and energy flow are a common source of discomfort and pain.
Such obstacles induce discomfort and pain by creating stagnation and congestion of body fluids, waste products, and energy itself.
Many common adverse responses to exercise occur through this mechanism, including:
- Lactate induced muscle soreness ("lactic acid buildup"), and
- Exercise related transient abdominal pain (ETAP) (a "side stitch")
How do the clothes worn during exercise affect such adverse responses?
By creating obstacles to lymph, blood, and energy flow.
And creating stagnation, congestion, and pain as a result.
Such obstacles, and the pain associated with them, are commonly caused by tight, constrictive clothing.
Tight, constrictive clothing like, say:
- bicycle shorts
- in short, modern sportswear!
All the above garments are composed of synthetic stretch fabrics.
Constriction - and the associated obstruction, stagnation, and pain - is just one of several adverse health effects induced by synthetically-treated or wholly synthetic fibres.
Natural fibres and natural textiles, on the other hand, are generally less constrictive.
Such natural fibres also support, rather than oppose, the long-term health of both the individual wearer and the ecosystem alike.
7. Choose Natural Footwear
In contrast to shod running, barefoot running is correlated with decreased injury of the knee, ankle, plantar fascia, and other such "impact-related injuries now experienced by a high percentage of runners".
Reduced injury is not barefoot running's only benefit.
But is barefoot always better?
Bikila's example underlines that those experienced with barefoot running can excel in doing so irrespective of distance or running surface.
However, newcomers accustomed to conventional running shoes would be prudent to make the transition to barefoot running gradually, carefully, and with professional support.
Those who transition too rapidly, intensely, and/or without such support risk increased potential for foot stress injury.
Likewise, while the human foot is ideally suited to running on natural surfaces such as grass or sand, barefoot running on artificial surfaces - particularly extremely hard, uniform surfaces like concrete - may, if performed too intensely, immoderately, or in absense of professional care and guidance, induce injury.
So barefoot is not always better.
Whether barefoot is better for a given individual is, in fact, individual.
Underlining the most important naturopathic medical fitness tip of all.
8. Support "small n" (Individual) Nature
You are an individual.
The patients for whom I have designed such personalized exercise regimes report the following benefits:
- decreased / eliminated injuries
- increased performance
- increased achievement of fitness goals
- increased mood
- increased correlation between exercise and happiness
- increased tendency to exercise in long-term
- improved health, both
- condition-specific, and
Indeed, treatment individualization is - in my clinical experience - the key to deep, lasting, curative treatment.
And thereby the key to vibrant health.
The positive treatment results experienced by the vast majoirty of my patients underlines the benefits of such an individualized, personalized approach to healing.
Whatever your health goals, I look forward to helping you realize those benefits.
Permitting you to be the happiest, healthiest, and - simply put - best possible version of yourself.