Reprinted with permission from Dr. Claudia Welch, Doctor of Oriental Medicine, Ayurvedic practitioner and educator, and author of Balance Your Hormones, Balance Your Life: Achieving Optimal Health and Wellness Through Ayurveda, Chinese Medicine and Western Science.

Some of us are exercise junkies.

Some not. Some of us enjoy a good, brisk, long walk. Provided some tidy conditions are met: the weather must be perfect and there must be a perfect chat companion. If the weather is cold, companion taciturn or absent, or we just don’t feel like it, it’s tough to motivate sufficiently to move our bodies.

Some of us need inspiration and convincing. Enter Gil Headly, ladies and gentlemen:

After I watch this film, I walk like a crazy person…a little flailing of each joint, just to make sure the fuzz gets gone. It provides motivation. So does this:

If someone is, say, admitted to the hospital and has to lay flat, their osteoclastic (that is, bone depleting) activity will increase 40% over their osteoblastic (bone building) activity within 24 hours. What that means is their bones will break down 40% faster than they will build. And their overall blood volume will decrease by 10 % in that 24 hr period. Next day, same thing: 40%. 10%. This is why it can take someone 2-3 months of exercise and normal movement to regain the bone density they can lose in 2 days. This is what I was told by MD and alert student of Ayurveda, Dr. Rich Kaplan.

Dr. Kaplan also gave me a paper on the “Hazards of Hospitalization of the Elderly” by Morton C. Creditor, MD[i], noting the factors that contribute to the dramatic decline of the conditions of the elderly, once they are bedridden for even a few days. Though the paper mostly related to the elderly population, it included some take home messages for all of us. Consider these salient points:

-For normal, healthy men, vertebral bone loss increases to 50 times the normal rate when they are bedridden. It takes four months for them to restore the bone loss that occurs within 10 days of bed rest.

-Young men lose 10% of their muscle strength within one week of being bedridden. When they don’t have any voluntary muscle contraction, it decreases 5% per day.

-Bed rest, laying flat on your back, results in significant loss of plasma volume. Then, when you get up, you are weaker, more light-headed and faint and have less tolerance for exercise.

So, with our stressful lives, we often want to lay on the couch. Not at all a bad idea, unless you’ve been sitting at a computer all day. Movement. Not a bad idea.

[i] Morton C. Creditor, MD. Hazards of Hospitalization of the Elderly Annals of Internal Medicine. 1993;118:219-223.