Copyright Richard GrossmanPhysical Exercise:

The regular engagement of physical activities for the purpose of maintaining or enhancing one's current level of fitness and well-being.

Know Your Outcome:

Each individual has a wide variety of exercise activities from which they may choose. Understanding your specific needs and desires and prioritizing them is the first step toward the establishment of an effective exercise program.

Identify Your Needs:

Once you have clarified your goals, your health coach will direct you further as to the specific area or areas most pertinent to your needs. The following discussion is intended to facilitate your understanding of the merits of several key areas.

The Key Considerations

The Lymphatic System:

This is the fluid exchange system which allows for the delivery of oxygen and nutrients from your cardiovascular system (blood) to each of your body's trillions office's. It is also responsible for the subsequent return of cellular waste products back to the blood for their eventual elimination.

Does it sound important? That's because it is, so let us take a closer look at it. Consider that even though this system represents approximately 60 percent of your total body fluids and it is charged with such essential tasks, it has no central pump to ensure adequate circulation. That's right, it depends solely on the regular contraction and relaxation of your body's muscle structures for its efficient circulation.

It will likely come as little surprise here, that most people fall well short of the necessary muscle activity to maintain proper lymphatic circulation.

This results in:

    • progressive accumulation of toxic waste residues at various tissue sites
    • decreased delivery of valuable nutrients, including life-giving oxygen
    • the eventual fatigue, weakness and discomfort (inflammation) which result as consequences of the above scenarios.

 The solutions:

    • the more body parts an exercise stimulates, the more effectively it mobilizes your lymphatic system
    • the deeper you breathe during an exercise (or even while at rest) the more efficiently your diaphragm and accessory respiration muscles "pump" your lymphatic system

Where To Start:

This of course will vary from individual to individual to some extent depending on their current level of fitness. Your health coach will help you to discern which of the following are most suitable for you. With few exceptions, the place to start improving lymphatic circulation is your posture and your breathing.

Faulty postural habits are a leading cause of poor lymphatic circulation (not to mention accelerated skeletal degeneration). The associated muscle imbalances and structural deviations often impede the circulation of lymph fluids along the major lymphatic ducts. Please take your health coach's recommendations around posture seriously. Conduct any prescribed stretching and exercise routines regularly and thoughtfully and be sure to keep any appointments for structural care and correction as directed. If you are not completely clear on the nature or the reasons for any prescribed care or treatment you must communicate this to your coach/doctor. They are only human and often have very busy schedules ... so they might not notice your lack of understanding at first.

Understanding the principles of proper rest and relaxation are very important to your postural health and lymphatic circulation. Make a note right now if you have not yet received the article "Proper Rest and Relaxation", as it covers these two areas sufficiently to get you started. Your coach will clarify or modify your program further as required.

As mentioned earlier, the more body parts and body cells an exercise stimulates, the more effectively it facilitates lymph circulation. Another key consideration here is that the lymphatic vessels are equipped with a series of one way valves which allow lymph fluids to circulate in one direction. As muscles contract and squeeze the lymph vessels, fluids are forced through the one way valves which then shut behind, serving to prevent the ebbing of fluids back to where they were prior to contraction. Gravity is the number one enemy of return circulation, especially from the feet, ankles and legs, therefore these one way valves help to counter the downward pull and possible "pooling" of lymph fluids.

With this understanding you may begin to appreciate that exercises that involve upward and downward motion of the body can have unique benefits to lymph circulation. Examples here include trampolining and jumping rope or skipping. These are terrific lymph movers.

Some further possibilities are:

    • mini-trampolines are now affordable and widely available for indoor use, often referred to as rebounders. They place very little strain on feet, ankles, knees and low backs when used properly and are great for young and elderly alike (they are available with railing support for those with questionable balance).
    • jumping rope is obviously more stressful to your joints but it is terrific exercise and generally allows for aerobic benefits more readily than rebounding.

Other exercises to be considered for their lymphatic benefits (and more) are:

    • brisk walking with exaggerated arm motions, while deep breathing from low in your chest
    • brisk aquatic exercises and swimming, once again with attention to deep breathing
    • cross-country skiing or its machine equivalents
    • stair climbing with exaggerated arm motions and/or its machine equivalent
    • various "climber" machines are also available now, which involve both your arms and legs.
    • cycling, but to a lesser extent unless it is combined with arm exercise, as with the Schwinn-Airdyne stationary bike concept

 For those of you who are very ill or functionally incapacitated, to the degree where you cannot yet participate in the above activities, you may still have a beneficial influence on your lymphatic system by carefully conducting the simple relaxation and deep breathing exercises described in the article "Proper Rest and Relaxation".

The Cardiovascular System:

This is the system of blood, vessels and pump (heart) which is responsible for:

    • exchanging the body's waste gases for oxygen in the lungs
    • picking up nutrients from the gastrointestinal tract
    • delivering these nutrients along with the precious oxygen to the various regions of the body, where the previously discussed lymphatic exchange takes place
    • last but not least, it transports any remaining nutrients and wastes to the kidneys for selective elimination or retention, depending on what is required, in order to maintain the body's delicate chemical and energetic balance

 The blood contained within our cardiovascular system comprises approximately 32 percent of our total body fluids.

Once again it will come as little surprise to most that only a small percentage of our population (children and adults alike) get sufficient exercise to maintain proper function of this remarkable system. The relatively sedentary lifestyles and highly processed diets to which so many have subscribed in our Western industrialized societies have resulted in widespread and largely unnecessary suffering. (Not to mention the incredible cost to our healthcare system).

One in two adults will die of cardiovascular related illness. This is especially tragic in light of the fact that the vast majority of cardiovascular disease is ]OO percent preventable through exercise and nutrition. Cardiovascular disease is not just an illness restricted to the elderly. Recent studies have demonstrated time and time again that degenerative changes in the blood vessel walls commonly begins in childhood! Give yourself and your children a chance, please read the rest of this article carefully and then proceed to implement the dietary guidelines and supplement programs as prescribed by your health professional. Study the Health Coach publication Functional Dietetics .... remembering that what you know won't change your life, but what you do with what you know certainly can.

The Solution:

You can keep your blood free from excess fats and most of the harmful substances which initiate damage to its vessels while you transform your body into a high efficiency fat-burning machine!

That's right... your body does not have to store fat on your hips, thighs or mid-section. It actually prefers to burn it for fuel, given the opportunity.

Your body's skeletal muscles burn fat directly during moderate intensity aerobic activities. Aerobic activities are those which are sufficiently vigorous to raise your heart rate to approximately 170-your age and keep it there for a minimum of 20 minutes. However; if your goals include fat reduction then it is recommended that you must sustain the activity for 30-45 minutes in order to maximize your results.

The other important and yet frequently overlooked consideration here is how much skeletal muscle do you currently have? If your muscle mass is low then you will burn less fat. If your muscle mass is higher you will burn more fat doing the same level of activity. Do you know anyone who does aerobic work-outs with great regularity, yet complains of not being able to lose body fat?

what these individuals need is a good coach who will get them going on a training program designed to increase their muscle mass significantly. If at this point you happen to be saying to yourself"... but I don't want to get hulking and muscle bound ...". Please rest assured that you have little chance of experiencing excessive muscle growth, in the absence of growth promoting (illegal) drugs. On the contrary, you will love the subtle changes in muscle tone that occur as the direct result of better coaching in this area.

One last point on aerobics and fat-burning, before we continue. If you over-train during aerobic exercise and the intensity of your work-out exceeds your cardiovascular systems ability to keep up with oxygen demand, you will stop burning fat and your body will burn alternate fuel sources such as proteins and carbohydrate. Your system cannot burn fat in the absence of adequate oxygen supplies. If fat loss and cardiovascular health are part of your goals then you do not want to over-train. How can you tell if your training intensity is appropriate? You must be able to carry on a conversation through your workout. You must not be fighting for oxygen (red faced, breathing very heavy, and feeling lightheaded or nauseous).

Harder is not better when training aerobically!

Another benefit of aerobic activity is the increase in lung and circulatory efficiency. This enhances the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to your body's cells, tissues and organ systems while eliminating wastes more efficiently. what a win - win! Especially when you understand that by increasing oxygen in cells and tissues while decreasing wastes and toxins you are dramatically boosting your natural immune responses (i.e. decreasing the likelihood of other illnesses).

Considering the length of time involved and the need for regular repetition (3-4 times a week), it is suggested that you choose from a variety of activities which you enjoy. Some excellent examples are: brisk walking, rebounding, cross-country skiing, swimming, cycling, aquatics, stair climbing and jogging or running (for those well-suited for higher impact activities).

Please remember that you are exercising to enhance your health and well-being over a lifetime, not just a season. Therefore it is not wise to conduct exercises where the risk to injury is high. For example, the jarring impact of jogging or running for someone who is not a "natural" runner, is not advised on a regular basis. For these individuals, "brisk power walking" mixed with intermittent jogs or another type of aerobic activity is preferred. In general, the less jarring' in an activity the better.

Be certain to discuss proper footwear with your health coach and have them access your foot mechanics if they have not done so already. Many individuals require custom foot-beds (orthoses) in order to minimize structural stress to their feet, ankles, hips and lower backs.

The Musculo-skeletal System:

Although commonly thought of as simply providing for our locomotion, this highly complex system is also responsible for maintaining the efficiency of both lymphatic and cardiovascular, the systems already discussed, as well as one we have yet to discuss, the nervous system.

What you do not use, you lose!"

This truism is certainly more evident in one's musculo-skeletal system than it is most others. The ratio of lean (muscle, water and bone) tissue to fat tissue has been demonstrated in study after study to correlate closely with one's overall level of fitness. Along with the dietary determinants, discussed in "Dietary Guidelines", physical exercise plays a major role with respect to your body composition. Your health coach will see that you have your body composition accurately assessed so that your needs with respect to your lean/fat ratio, and your subsequent progress, may be monitored appropriately.

It is also important to note that you are only as strong as your weakest link. This understanding underlies the need for each individual to have a thorough orthopedic, neurological and kinesiological evaluation. This refers to the comprehensive assessment of bone, nerve, connective tissue and muscle health, in order to identify any musculoskeletal dysfunction at its earliest stage. This allows for the necessary corrective action to be taken wherever possible.

Most health coaches are proficient in these types of evaluations. In those few instances where this is not the case, they will refer you to, and work in conjunction with, a professional colleague who has the appropriate expertise in these important areas.

Musculo-skeletal dysfunctions identified during such evaluations generally respond well to corrective and rehabilitative programs. These programs may include: physical therapies, soft tissue manipulation, osseous manipulation, acupuncture, therapeutic exercises, herbal and homeopathic remedies and nutritional counseling. These are some of the key therapeutic modalities available to you through your health coach.

The next step with respect to your musculo-skeletal system is to determine, in concert with your health coach, what your specific needs are in the areas of: flexibility, strength and endurance.


Restoring or maintaining sufficient flexibility (range of motion) in your joints and related soft tissues (muscle and connective tissues) is essential to maintain proper circulation in these tissues. Attending to flexibility minimizes the risk to injury and even assists in recovery where injury has already occurred. Your health coach will recommend the specific stretching exercises which are best suited to your needs. Please make it a priority to do them.


The strength of one's musculature has been shown to correlate closely with the strength of one's bone structure. A key distinction here is that muscular strength must be 'balanced' appropriately or it will result in counter productive stress. Such imbalance accelerates joint 'wear and tear' and the eventual dysfunction, degeneration and pain which results. This all-too-frequent scenario can be circumvented by properly assessing and then addressing your 'muscle balance' needs. Thus the need for the kinesiological evaluation mentioned earlier.

Your strength work-outs, whether involving calisthenics, free weights or other types of exercise equipment, must therefore be appropriately balanced in order to maximize health benefits and to minimize the risk to unnecessary 'wear and tear' or injury. Proper coaching in this area is necessary as such balance is very difficult to ascertain and achieve on one's own.

The most suitable form of strength training to meet your specific needs will be for you and your health coach to determine after due consultation and assessment.

In general however; strength training will involve several "sets" of repetitions of a particular exercise, working a specific muscle group against resistance, through its fullest range of motion.

Exercises and exercise equipment are chosen here for their ability to:

    • suitably isolate a targeted muscle group
    • provide even resistance through a full natural and smooth range of motion
    • allow for maximum intensity muscle contraction
    • minimize any undue stress to joint structures reduce the likelihood of injury



This is the ability to sustain a physical activity over a longer period of time and involves a different type of muscle fiber than those associated with strength alone. Endurance is the end result of repeating a specific activity without interruption over a long period of time. It is therefore more moderate in intensity than strength-only activities and involves primarily aerobic (oxygen utilizing) pathways to sustain it.

Endurance activities are usually consistent with enhanced health and fitness as they benefit both lymphatic and cardiovascular systems. The exception here is when thorough musculo-skeletal evaluation has been neglected or overlooked and, an imbalance or dysfunction is present. This sets the stage for the accelerated 'wear and tear' discussed earlier and eventually results in needless suffering and disability.

It must be noted here that endurance activities are highly specific to the muscles which they directly involve and usually have little crossover effect on other activities.

Example: One who develops a high level of endurance with respect to running 60 km/week will not have similar endurance on beginning cycling, as this would involve the conditioning of a new group of muscles. However, the aerobic benefits from the running will certainly facilitate the cycling training.

In summary, if your goal is peak performance in a specific endurance event, no other activity will substitute for the repetition of that specific event activity. However, in the interest of both your long-term health and your daily performance, it is advised that you get coaching on how to properly balance out any highly specific muscle activity with regular training of the antagonist muscle groups (those with the opposite function to the one's being trained regularly). Confused? Don't worry, just be sure to ask your health coach for more details here.

The Nervous System:

Our discussion of exercise would fall well short of complete if we were to overlook the important role of the nervous system here.

Your nervous system controls and coordinates every function in your body. The exercises you chose must compliment its function and not interfere with it.

Your movements, whether during exercise or not, serve to either free up and balance your nervous system or to lock in patterns of rigidity and imbalance.

Learn to use your body postures and movements to access different emotional states! Notice how differently you feel when slumped forward, eyes to the ground, breathing rapid, shallow and from high in your chest versus shoulders back, chin up, eyes to the sky while breathing slow, deep and from low in your chest.

 "You can access emotion through motion!"

Begin to dance the rhythm of life if you are not doing so already. Use your body freely, creatively and in a balanced fashion. Use movement and physical activity to re-connect to nature. Get outdoors whenever possible.

Listen to your body! If it is telling you that it is tight, stiff, sore or restricted in any way, please relate this to your health coach. Your body must last you a lifetime, so use all of the resources available to you here.

No one can or will take care of your body for you, it is up to you. Please take responsibility for balancing your structure through exercise, give your nervous system a chance, it knows what it needs to do ... do you?

General Discussion

With respect to your health and well-being, regular balanced exercise is second only to the quality of your thoughts and the quality of your diet.

A properly constructed exercise routine can be fun, uniquely satisfying and instrumental in improving your overall energy, vitality and ability to cope with life's many and varied stressors.

Thoughtfully conducted exercise and movement routines provide you with valuable feedback from your body. Your strengths and weaknesses become more apparent when you intelligently challenge your limits.

We live in a society of abundance and hedonism (the pursuit of pleasure). We have been conditioned to look for and to expect quick fixes for our physical challenges, even if they may "cost us" down the road. This often means "Turing out" our body's signals with stimulants and drugs. Fatigue is too often countered with caffeine, stress and anxiety with alcohol, cigarettes and sedatives, congestion with decongestants... etc., etc., etc..

It is time to tune back into our inner wisdom. The answer to our challenges lies within each of us and it is from a common source.

Exercise is one of the most effective tools for restoring awareness, resolving fatigue, anxiety, congestion and many other conditions naturally and healthfully.

Pursue greater awareness of your body, use your body creatively, and establish some clear goals with respect to exercise and your well-being, have a proper evaluation of your exercise needs done by an expert and then follow their advice closely.

Above all... enjoy the process!

Copyright 1994, Health Coach International - may not be copied nor distributed without permission


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