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Exercise, health and the environment

Through my doctoral research on champion athletes, I discovered that the environment played a key role in their ability to win at the highest level of a sport. If your goal is to have a long and healthy and active life and reach the highest level of living, the environment is also a critical component to your success.

If you are a ski racer, you must have regular access to snow.  If you are in search of basic exercise you need a place to move and sweat. You need a neighborhood for walking, space in your home for a bike or treadmill or access to a gym.  In order to get and stay healthy, you must create or find a physical environment that lets you safely move your body.

We all need fresh air to breathe and the proper foods to eat. It is our physical environment in which we can pursue our sport and fitness goals and from which we get the foods that nourish our aspirations. Sadly, our environment is under siege. Weather patterns are changing, glaciers are melting, ski resorts must make snow to ensure a ski season and are developing their Summer seasons for year-round income. 

For those who just want to exercise and stay healthy there remain many options, but walking outside in excessive heat is not healthy, especially for the older populations.  As we gobble up more and more land for development, the open spaces are taking more and more stress. Our ever-increasing human footprint is impacting animal species at every level. Wild places such as the Amazon and our national parks to the plains of Africa and the outer regions of all of our continents are feeling the effects of people and the changing climates.

Humans are capable of performing incredible feats of athleticism and surviving under the harshest of conditions, but to do so requires much work and sacrifice. We need healthy bodies to live a powerful and productive life and we need a consistent environment in which to live and pursue our outdoor activities. 

We have plans for our health, we have plans for our savings and we should have a plan for our environment. Our environment is the constant in every aspect of our lives. It sustains us and its stability allows us to pursue anything that we want in life.

I suggest that in addition to regular exercise that each one of us regularly do something positive for the land, water, and air. Maybe it is one less errand, using reusable bags at the store or stopping the use of throwaway plastic water bottles.  

Politically, we need to tell the people in Washington to stop arguing about the causes and costs of a changing climate and instead focus on improving or doing what is right for the environment. I have never met anyone, from any party who wants dirty air, polluted waterways and an environment less and less hospitable for living a good life. Yet, we sure find ways to argue. I suggest that we at the very least hedge towards the environment and find ways to give Mother Nature some support.

Like the athlete or weekend warrior or the one who just want to stay healthy, we all need a healthy environment and our environment needs an environment in which it can also thrive.  Without a healthy environment, sports like skiing might just become that crazy sport done by your grandparents.

What is one thing that you are doing on a daily or weekly basis that benefits the environment?