To balance physical fitness with all the other things we have going in our lives, many of us prefer getting away with the minimum possible to keep healthy. That amount might actually be quite a bit less than many may think. (Whew!). But a casual walk is not going to do it. Fitness is measured by how fast our pulse rate returns to normal after being above a certain level. A good book on the subject is Total Fitness in 30 Minutes a Week by Laurence E Morehouse, Ph.D. (Simon and Schuster, 1975). It is based on a gentle yet effective system for fitness that is tailored to each individual person which he devised for NASA’s astronaut program.
It is versatile, fun and requires a minimum of the three exercise sessions of 10 minutes each per week. It is based on your heart beat, so you progress at a pace that’s right for you. Each 10 minutes session is divided into one minute of limbering, four minutes of muscle building (easy exercises, no "pumping iron") and five minutes of continuous activity that raises your heart beat to the calculated level for you. He also has a good program to reduce your weight a pound per week and keep it off. He also wrote another book called Maximum Performance, which covers a broader area of sports performance in general. These books are currently out of print, but your local library might have them, or possibly get a used copy.
Cardiovascular exercise is not the only type that’s important for good health. The many systems that make up our body needs movement and exercise to keep them regulated. For instance, our lymphatic system builds antibodies and drains toxins. This is greatly aided by physical activity like yoga and even massage where we don’t get our heart rate up much. This is particularly important for people with health limitations that restrict rigorous exercise.
There is also the concept from ancient Eastern teachings about energy meridians along which chi or life force travels, as used in accupuncture. Blocks along meridians results in health problems. (See details on the Balancing Our 4 "Bodies" page.) Some forms of exercise are specifically designed to help chi flow freely. They include yoga, accupressure and Do-In (See The Book of Do-In: Exercise for Physical and Spiritual Development by Michio Kushi, Japan Publications Inc., Tokyo and New York, 1985.) Another interesting book on exercise called the Ancient Secret of the Fountain of Youth by Peter Kelder (Doubleday, 1998) claims many long-term health benefits by doing 5 special yoga-like exercises or rites practised by Tibetan lamas. Each one is fairly simple and quick at 3 petitions per day each, but takes a while once you build up to 21 petitions.
Another very interesting area of physical exercise is Educational Kinesiology (Edu-K) and Brain Gym ®, developed by Dr. Paul Dennison (www.braingym.com). Edu-K incorporates specific movement that activates the brain for optimal storage and retrieval of information. It is also a process for re-educating the whole mind/body system for greater efficiency. It is related to Brain Gym ®, which and combines movement and learning to improve whole brain/body functioning.
Geared more for children, the book How To Teach Your Baby To Be Physically Superb by Glenn Doman, Douglas Doman and Bruce Hagy shows clearly each stage of mobility and how to create an environment that will help a baby to achieve each stage more easily. The Institute Developmental Profile is a delineation of the significant stages of child brain development through which children pass as they progress from birth to six years. The book includes many physical exercises that are good for both children and adults.