It’s a commonly held belief that healthy people are more productive. Recent studies we’ve all heard of seem to overwhelmingly support that belief. Now, I’m no scientist, so I wouldn’t begin to question their findings, but, doesn’t it follow that productive people are more healthy? If so, we have in our hands an amazingly simple method to improve our own health, without insurance, government assistance or any other of the trappings thought of as necessary for good health. This article will focus on the flip side of productivity…how it enhances health.
Aging And Illness: We used to believe aging and illness were just our bodies wearing out over time. The older we get, the higher the chances of a fatal disease…right? Of course! The extreme training athletes undergo to push their bodies to the limit does wear them out, but this isn’t the case for the rest of us. For most people, aging and illness isn’t our bodies wearing out, but rusting out. It’s as if we left a pair of pliers out in the weather. Before long, they’d be unable to function. It’s the same for us! Just breathing creates a process in our bodies, called oxidation (rusting). Oxidation sets us up for a number of illnesses, cancer, being one of the better known ones. As the oxidation process continues, our bodies become less efficient at maintaining health, until we can’t function and are at risk for an increasing number of diseases. If wearing ourselves out were a concern, no doctor would recommend exercise for health. In fact, non-productivity speeds up the oxidation just like a pair of unused pliers.
Non-Productivity: While there are exceptions that can be found, it’s no accident that those who are less productive in society (rich and poor, alike) are the most unhealthy, often morbidly obese and invariably unhappy. I haven’t seen any studies of productivity and mental illness but there is no reason to assume there wouldn’t be just as strong a relationship as with physical illness. We’ll get into some of the physical mechanisms involved in a moment, but let’s finish with the issue of non-productivity. Everyone knows, if you don’t use your muscles, they become weaker. If you tied your arm up for a year or more, it’s possible you could never use it again. The same is true of mental abilities. Don’t exercise your mind and you’ll be gradually less able to use it. In fact, there’s an old saying based on this principle. “If you don’t use it, you lose it.” It’s so reliable a principle, you can find it in the Bible. while this article isn’t about spiritual health, both science and social wisdom agree with the Bible that productivity is required if we wish to continue functioning.
Productivity And Body Chemistry: Every body functions as a goal-striving, achieving mechanism. We were designed to do stuff! When we stop doing stuff, we break down. Early studies discovered a group of chemicals produced in our bodies whenever we engaged in sexual intercourse…endorphins. They are largely responsible for our drive to reproduce. These chemicals are better than anything at the pharmacy or on the street. They reduce stress, relax us, give us a euphoric feeling, make us happy and reduce pain. In fact, next time she says, “I have a headache.” tell her that’s why you were offering sex. There have been some amazing discoveries, recently, concerning these endorphins. We learned that physical exercise produces them. Then, we learned that any kind of productive physical activity produces them. People don’t sing because they’re happy…they’re happy because they sing. In fact, we’re learning that mental exercise and activity produces the same chemicals. Just reading a book or listening to music…doing something…produces endorphins. Over time, these endorphins are very effective at relieving many mental illnesses, including anxiety and depression. Just like our sex-drive, we were designed to be productive, achieving beings. Our physical health and our mental health depend on it.
Here it is…a shocking and simple method to maintain our own mental and physical health…be productive. Unless we’re suffering a severe mental or physical disability, we have control over our physical and mental well-being. Feeling down? Listen to music, whistle! Feeling anxious? Take a walk, mow the lawn! Don’t feel like exercising? Exercise and you’ll feel like it! Start slowly if you haven’t exercised. Try a 10 minute walk and gradually build up speed and distance. Eventually, we get to a tipping point, where we feel happy and fulfilled most of the time, and that happiness, believe it or not, produces endorphins. If you’ve been depressed, stressed or anxious, maybe even being medicated for it, how would it hurt for you to start an exercise program or take classes, do volunteer work or take up singing. You want to be healthy and happy? Step up your productivity! That’s what we were designed for.