A Good Sweat: Physical Activity and a Long Life

We need to have active physical lives to be healthy. Sometimes we need a good sweat. A sedentary lifestyle will make us weaker and sicker early in life. Here is a quote by the Qi Gong Master – Geoff Pike:

“The strongest and fittest among us…”

“As a general rule, the strongest and fittest among us are those that work outdoors. But the number of such people is diminishing in the face of the rapid takeover of air-conditioned, computerised, mechanical labour-savers.

Having worked in many outdoor jobs, I can promise you that a man who swings a 5 kilogram axe against a tree all day, swipes railway ties with a sledge hammer, drags a tonne or two of fish from the sea each night or spends his days chasing animals, can sit down at any time to some of the most unlikely concoctions imaginable, then sleep soundly as a babe and do it all over again when he awakes.

You will often find such renegades battling on into lusty old age without so much as a bellyache, while their more cautious counterparts behind a desk develop ulcers, headaches, varicose veins and haemorrhoids.”

Taken from ‘The Power of Chi‘ by Geoff Pike

Geoff Pike

Geoff Pike is a Qi gong master, now in his late 80’s. Geoff had been a successful advertising executive working in Asia, but years of living a good life with lots of rich food, alcohol and a sedentary lifestyle had made him unhealthy. It was then that he stated learning the ancient Chinese practice of Qi Gong. Here is his book: The Power of Chi.

In this quote, he talks about how doing physical work or working outside can keep a person strong and healthy into a later age compared to someone who does a sedentary job.

A lifetime of physical work

I would agree. My father has worked his whole life outside. He did farming work and now gardening. He is in his late 70’s and still works. He looks old but he is still going strong. He doesn’t have any serious health problems – certainly no arthritis and doesn’t take medication.

The doctors tried to make him take pills for cholesterol because a few years ago they thought his cholesterol and blood pressure was too high. But those pills actually made him feel ill, so he told the doctors he won’t take them anymore.

Instead he stopped putting milk in his porridge and tea and put less salt on his food. Years later, his blood pressure is still high but he has had no signs of stroke or risk of any cardiovascular problems or anything. He still works.

Perhaps it is normal to have high levels of cholesterol or high blood pressure when you get older?

A lifetime of deskbound work

My stepfather was the opposite. He was a successful lawyer, but had a deskbound life and enjoyed lots of rich food and booze. Unfortunately, he passed away in his 60’s from cancer after a very short illness. He was not in good shape and never exercised or did any physical work.

I believe, he passed too early. He still had a good 10 years of life in him. I wonder if  it was the lifestyle that killed him, not just the cancer.

We need to balance sedentary lives with physical activities or hobbies

As I get older, I have to consider what condition I would like my body to be in when I hit my 60s.

Like most people, I want to be in relatively good health in my later years particularly as I had my kid later in life. So I have to consider the best way to do this.

I think keeping a regular habit of exercise and physical fitness is one way. If I look at someone like Jack Lalanne who was practicing fitness into his 90s, then you can see the benefits of this kind of lifestyle.

I don’t do the kind of work my father does, nor do I want to. That is his life. I have my own. My work is active but not that active. So I need to balance that by doing exercise in my spare time.

I think that is the case for a lot of people and jobs these days. If we want to live long, active lives, it would help to add some kind of fitness routine into our lives.

What we need is a good sweat

My father says, what a person needs is ‘a good sweat every so often’. This will really help get the cardiovascular system going and work the muscles. Take it from a 79 year old man who still works at a physical job. If he says this is what we need, then this is what we need.

Also the Chinese exercise arts

Another good practice are the ancient arts like Qigong or Tai Chi. Tai Chi is a little boring for me, but I have practiced a lot of Qi Gong. I would recommend it. The exercises are deceptively simple but can be really challenging – especially things like the low horse-stance.

Either that or you can’t go wrong with things like sports, swimming, walking or even housework. Yoga or Pilates as well. Or simply going to the gym regularly are all great. In other words, we need to use our bodies the way nature intended them to be used.

The key is to do these activities regularly as part of a long-term fitness and lifestyle plan.


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