Ok, I’ll admit that the title is a ploy to get your attention but it’s no lie. Exercise is the best antidote to stress of all types; regardless of whether the stress arises from fear of Ebola or from anxiety induced by a more imminent danger, exercise is the best antidote.
Recently, I have had a good deal of contact with the media due to my publicist’s creative ‘pitch’ with the media. My training in public health and experience as a Hospital Director made the publicist’s idea of jumping on the Ebola induced media frenzy sound like a great way to promote my latest book. What seemed like a no-brainer to me turned rapidly into a need to take a few steps back to consider just how far I would go to generate publicity; very quickly I realized that for most reporters, television and radio show hosts that my ‘hot’ background cooled off to total disinterest once they received my talking points: Once they were told that I had no interest in joining the crowded fray of experts decrying the actions of the beleaguered Dallas Presbyterian Hospital.
Instead, what I wanted to discuss were the behaviors we needed to take very seriously because of real and present danger, rather than a manufactured one. The numbers of interested people dropped precipitously almost overnight.
Because health is boring.
Disease is exciting….sexy, particularly with a new and morbidly fascinating disease like Ebola. In one of the interviews conducted with me by a holistic health show, the interviewer was intrigued by my statement that we needed to get some perspective on this thing; that as a society, we needed to talk publically about the risks to health that are real, are of imminent threat and are mostly in our own control.
Heart disease has been the number one cause of death in this country for decades. For one out of two of us suffering from heart disease, the first sign is death. That frightening statistic has not budged for years. The incidence of Diabetes has tripled in adults over the last twenty years and has increased exponentially in children. The data demonstrating the significant positive effects of consistent exercise upon cardiovascular health are overwhelming and most Diabetics who exercise and learn what and how to eat can be cured of their disease.
But our media prefers to sound an alarm about a disease that at present time will affect only those caring for Ebola patients or traveling to Africa with the real epidemics undiscussed.
When my holistic health reporter spoke with me, he asked me what I thought was the most important way to minimize risk of contracting Ebola. If one researches this question at the CDC web site, one reads that the health of the individual’s immune system is the most important criterion in determining risk of contagion.
What is one of the most serious risk to the health of the immune system?
Right, it is stress. Over many decades studies have shown the inimical effects of stress upon the immune systems of laboratory animals from the time that Hans Selye pioneered the concept through decades of excellent work by Norman Cousins, beginning with The Anatomy of an Illness in the late sixties.
And the safest and most effective antidotes to stress?
Right again: exercise.