Holistic Health:
"The FIRST Rule of Fitness..."

Incorporating fitness into your holistic health lifestyle centers around what I call, “The First Rule of Fitness.”

I learned this from an old, long haired dude way back in the mountains…

Several years ago, I went on a tough but fun hike with a group of friends led by a guy named Chic. Now, you need to understand that Chic had a reputation. He was famous (or…should I say…infamous) for taking his fellow Nature lovers way off the beaten path. Chic was quite a few years older than all of the rest of us, but he spends so much time in the great outdoors, we all knew that if we dilly dallied, Chick would leave us in the dust. This particular hike was to a breathtaking string of peaks known as “The Seven Sisters” in the wild and rugged Selkirk Mountains of far northern Idaho.

Here's a picture of where we hiked that day:

See that little spot on the top of the nearest peak? That's me!

Anyway, our hike lasted about 12 hours, with ten of those hours off trail. Most of us spent the day huffing, puffing, moaning and groaning. Not Chic. Oh sure, he had sweat pouring down his face, but his smile never faded. He is in peak physical condition, not because he works out or follows any sort of fitness regimen, but because he just loves to go out and play. Hiking, mountain biking, kayaking, skiing…you name it…Chic excels in just about any outdoor pursuit. And the tougher, the better.

I once asked Chic how he finds the time for all of his outdoor pursuits. His answer was so simple and sensible that I adopted it as my “First Rule of Fitness.”

“Play first!”

This is the most important, most foundational guideline for incorporating fitness into your holistic health lifestyle. Playing turns your health inside out!

If you’re like me, you have heard and read tons of advice about exercise and fitness. And…if you’re like me…it’s a bit (or a lot) more than you care to deal with. If you try to take in all of the conventional fitness advice you hear, you may embark on a fitness program that just isn’t a lot of fun. So, even though you dive into your new program with unbridled zeal, it eventually becomes a chore; something you are doing because you "should" do rather than something you want to do. Ugh! (Sound familiar, maybe?)

The result: stress!

And adding more stress to your life is not a holistic health principle!

Whatever exercise you do, if you don’t enjoy it you won’t stick with it. If working out in a gym is fun for you, then by all means go to the gym. But if you’d rather skateboard, garden, take a yoga class or jitterbug, do those things.

But wait a minute, Dr. Mark,” you may ask. “I always hear that we need to develop strength, endurance and flexibility. How can I do that just by gardening?”

Yes, those things are important, but that doesn’t mean that you need to become a power lifting ironman contortionist. Any physical activity, even gardening, will promote some degree of strength, endurance and flexibility. But anything that’s un-fun will not last. Then it will only promote couch potato-ism.

Fun is what makes your physical activity holistic. Playing is great for your body, your psyche and your spirit.


“Play first!”

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