Exercise: The Key to Health and Happiness

This article is an excerpt from Living Bliss: Major Discoveries Along the Holistic Path by Dr. Norman Shealy. Dr. Norman Shealy is Top Expert Physician of The Year in Chronic Pain for 2020 by the International Association of Top Professionals and is credited with being at the forefront of the Holistic Medicine movement in the late 70s. 

I have been an exercise buff all my life.

As a child, I did the Charles Atlas dynamic isometric exercise program, and I was lifting weights even before medical school. Today, I still do 75 to 90 minutes of exercise daily, but no weight lifting.

Three years ago, at the age of 84, I did a treadmill stress test. It showed that my body was equal to most healthy 26-year-olds, so I live by my own advice, and it’s a great life!

I tell you this not to boast, but to emphasize my belief that physical exercise is the single greatest boost to health and longevity. Time and time again, I have seen that when patients would start and stick with a good exercise program, they would overcome depression, stress, anxiety, and pain—and live longer lives.

When you exercise, you will suffer far fewer illnesses or ailments throughout your life, and you can stay away from unnecessary pharmaceuticals, such as antidepressants. No drugs are free of side effects, and many cause worse situations than they were intended to cure.

For example, a March 15, 2011, article published in The American Journal of Psychiatry reported that when researchers studied the cases of more than 24,000 patients who had suffered strokes, they found that the prior use of antidepressants was associated with a 48 percent increased stroke risk!

This is just one example —and you could easily find hundreds more—but I don’t want to dwell on the negatives.

Physical exercise has all kinds of positive aspects, but let me share just a few. I totally believe that it is the single best and safest treatment for mild to major depression, even in those people who are resistant to drug therapy, and it is also the best and safest treatment for anxiety.

Getting your body moving every day also reduces stress, hostility, and anger.

There are all kinds of research studies that show how exercise improves cognitive thinking at all ages and helps prevent Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. It reduces fibromyalgia symptoms more than any known drug, and, in fact, a good regimen reduces mortality at any age, especially from heart disease. In addition, you can improve immune function, keep from becoming overweight, and reduce your risk of diabetes. I could go on and on—the benefits are endless.

As for what you choose to do for your own program, to some extent, it does not matter what you do for exercise. In general, a brisk walk is superb. Aim to build up to a minimum of two miles in 30 minutes, which is not really that hard. Various yoga techniques and exercises are excellent as well. When you can’t get out, I find that treadmills are good.

My favorite one is a HealthRider, which works out every muscle in your body except your face. Walking or jogging in a swimming pool is another outstanding way to get your body moving.

If you are resistant to exercise, try bouncing—even while watching TV. Build up to three minutes of bouncing ten times a day.

Your immune system, mood, and overall health will improve immensely just by getting yourself moving. You can bounce on a small trampoline or in place.

Just do an Internet search for “Bounce with Dr. Shealy” on YouTube to see how easy it is?

Proper Sleep Is Necessary for Health

As more and more people are reporting sleep disorders, we are seeing all kinds of sleep clinics and drug-based solutions popping up everywhere. I would suggest that making personal lifestyle changes should be your first line of defense before seeing the doctor, unless you are very ill or worried about something more serious.

There is quite a bit of scientific evidence that sleep deficiencies are a major contributing factor to the obesity crisis. Over and over, studies are showing that too little sleep is linked to weight gain.

There are various theories as to why this is so, but there may be three primary reasons why getting proper sleep helps you manage your weight better. If you are going to bed at a decent hour each night, you have fewer evening hours to snack on poor food choices you might otherwise seek.

Some other scientists say that too little sleep produces excess stress and causes havoc with hunger hormones and the body’s ability to process sugars in food. Other experts claim that lack of proper sleep is a vicious circle—you are just too tired when waking up to feel like going to the gym or working out, thus your body packs on the pounds from inactivity!

Whatever the reason, a conscientious person knows that it is best to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, getting a minimum of seven good hours of sleep.

As for getting to sleep, the wisdom of your mother is still valid: Why not try a glass of warm milk?

I also recommend listening to relaxing music, the gentle sounds of nature, or autogenic-training CDs in order to calm your mind, body, and spirit. I would not recommend drinking anything with caffeine after the noon hour if getting to sleep is an issue.

And of course, one of the best ways to drift off to a blissful sleep is using Air Bliss essential oil blend applied to the Ring of Air points on the body before bed (Air Bliss is explained further in the next chapter).

Selecting Supplements That Work for You

When it comes to nutritional supplements, it depends very much on what your system still may need that it’s not getting from your normal diet, what your body might need to help protect itself from illness, or what’s necessary to recover from physical concerns that you may have developed.

But in general terms, the supplements I recommend most often happen to be these:

  • B complex (25 mg daily) and some trace minerals—critical for brain and nerve function.
  • Magnesium lotion (2 teaspoons twice daily on the skin)—this is essential to 350 different enzymes in the body, and it’s absorbed far more effectively through the skin than by swallowing a capsule.
  • Astaxanthin (10 mg daily)—this is the single best overall antioxidant.
  • Vitamin D3 (50,000 units once a week)—the single best boost to immune function. Doing this will prevent at least 80 percent of viral infections!
  • Omega-3 (1,000 to 2,000 mg daily)—this is essential for artery and brain function.
  • Lithium orotate (15 to 20 mg daily)—essential for serotonin optimization, this stabilizes mood and helps deal with trauma.

You can read more in my book, Living Bliss: Major Discoveries Along the Holistic Path by Dr. Norman Shealy.

Leave a Reply