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JONES: Twelve days of fitness: a present to yourself

As the festive air fills with the tunes of the holiday season, let’s continue to feast on our many thanksgivings, leftover from our previous journey through the wonders of our own creation. In the spirit of the classic “Twelve Days of Christmas,” I extend to you an invitation to unwrap the gifts housed within your body.

A partridge in a pear tree: Eyesight — On the first day of fitness, envision a partridge perched in a pear tree, a rare sight, much like the intricate marvel of our eyes. With approximately 130 million light-sensitive cells in each retina, our eyes discern around 10 million different colors. The lens, performing 100,000 involuntary movements daily, allows us to witness the world’s vibrant hues.

Two turtle doves: Hearing and balance — Day two introduces us to a turtle dove duo, celebrated for their gentle cooing. Our ears, housing approximately 15,000 hair cells each, orchestrate the symphony of sounds around us. The vestibular system, with an additional 15,000 hair cells within the inner ear, ensures graceful movements and rhythmic balance.

Three French hens: Language — On the third day, three French hens symbolize the gift of language. With 6,500 languages spoken worldwide, our ability to express thoughts echoes in our daily linguistic harmony of 16,000 words, with certain languages including clicking and clucking consonants, adding extraordinary expression.

Four calling birds: Communication — Day four brings the image of four calling birds. Similarly, our vocal cords enable speech and communication, fostering connection and understanding. Approximately 100,000 neural impulses control each vocal cord movement, showcasing the intricate and remarkable nature of our ability to connect.

Five gold rings: Dexterity — The fifth day’s vision includes five gold rings, symbolizing strength and unity. Much like these rings, our hands, each equipped with 27 bones, 27 joints, 34 muscles and over 100 ligaments, allow us to skillfully grasp with things and clasp with others.

Six geese a-laying: Reproduction — On the sixth day, envision six geese a-laying, aligning with the miracle of life within our own reproductive system. With the astonishing ability to produce up to 2 million eggs in a lifetime, a woman’s incredible gift of fertility contributes to the human story. Each egg is a potential autobiographical page in the epic tale of life.

Seven swans a-swimming: Coordination — On the seventh day, envision seven swans a-swimming, showcasing coordinated movements. Much like a swan paddling fervently beneath the water’s surface, while gliding effortlessly above it, our muscles, numbering over 600, work together seamlessly. This synchronization of contractions is a marvel, a ballet of muscular coordination.

Eight maids a-milking: Digestion — Day eight brings the image of eight maids a-milking, paralleling the process of absorption, assimilation and appropriation of nourishment. Our bodies compose an intricate masterpiece, producing up to 7 liters per day of juices and enzymes, including gastric, pancreatic, intestinal, saliva and bile.

Nine ladies dancing: Proprioception — Picture nine ladies dancing on the ninth day, engaged in a precisely choreographed hula that mirrors our kinesthetic awareness and movement. Orchestrated by the brain, thousands of neural impulses direct every gesture using over 360 articulations, with each step coordinated effortlessly.

Ten lords a-leaping: Circulation — On the tenth day, envision ten lords a-leaping, symbolizing the strength of our heart, a tireless pump, flowing life-sustaining circulation throughout the body. The impressive cadence of 100,000 heartbeats per day resonates the intricate and robust nature of our cardiovascular system, a rhythmic gift that continually streams the circle of life.

Eleven pipers piping: Lymphatics — Day eleven introduces eleven pipers piping, symbolizing the silent tune of aplomb plumbing played by our lymphatic system. Approximately 700 lymph nodes perform a daily disco, ensuring fluid balance and immune function. Appreciating the numerical wonders of this intricate piping highlights the genuine ingenuity of our lymphatic system.

Twelve drummers drumming: Cognition — On the twelfth and final day, envision 12 drummers drumming, a syncopated symbol of the cognitive concerto within our brains. With around 86 billion neurons orchestrating thoughts, emotions, and actions, our brains create the drumrolls of life.

This season, let’s all celebrate the incredible gifts which we have already received, including every beat, breath and bound. I wish you a December filled with joy and appreciation for the miracle of you.


Doug Jones earned his Master’s Degree in Exercise Physiology from the University of Maryland and has served professionals and personalities as a concierge fitness trainer for decades. As a resident of Kaua‘i and Connecticut, he has helped millions of people learn the secrets of fitness and fat loss, both online and in person. To submit your questions, or for more information, call (808) 652-6453 or visit
Source: The Garden Island

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