In the classic 1944 film noir, “Double Indemnity”, insurance salesman Walter Neff (played by Fred MacMurray), gets into some pretty hot water involving his client (Barbara Stanwyck) and his co-worker (Edward G. Robinson). Neff tries to misuse the concept of double indemnity and he pays a heavy price. Surprisingly, double indemnity works very well for the rest of us. Exercise, healthy nutrition, proper rest, and regular chiropractic care can pay off, not only double, but often in many multiples. However, before we begin reaping these benefits we have to know where to look and how to make use of this property we all get for free.
Out in the world, insurance policies pay us a benefit when problems arise. Car insurance, home insurance, life insurance, and health insurance are all financial instruments that compensate people (in some degree or other, more or less) when things go wrong. Inside our bodies, double indemnity is turned on its head. When we do things that are good for our health and well-being, our built-in “insurance policies” pay off double, sometimes triple, and sometimes in ways that cannot even be calculated.
Let’s consider a person who is overweight, possibly seriously overweight. That person decides, much like Howard Beale in the multiple-Academy Award-winning film “Network” (1976), that he is “not going to take this anymore”. He declares to himself that he will begin to lose weight. He makes a commitment to start exercising regularly and eating nutritious food. Change takes time, and sooner rather than later he loses a few pounds. Then he loses a few more. After three months he’s 12 pounds lighter, and after six months he’s more than 20 pounds lighter than when he first chose to live a healthier life.
By now his body’s double indemnity clause has started to pay off. He began doing some things, began engaging in a healthy new lifestyle, and he begins to reap the benefits. Owing to his new exercise program and his new diet, his blood pressure begins to go down. His insulin levels begin to stabilize,1rather than spiking and falling off drastically throughout the day. His blood glucose levels become steadier, too, and his cells, organs, and tissues (particularly his brain) are beginning to receive consistent supplies of oxygen and other precious nutrients.2 His immune system gets stronger.3 As a direct result, his stress levels are going down and his heart rate is steadier. His sleep is more restful and he has more energy throughout the day. There are many other benefits, too, known only to him and his loved ones.
Our built-in double indemnity clause is primed for action. It is ready to kick in and begin an open-ended flow of good health and well-being. All we need to do is begin taking consistent actions that will enable our innate powers to function in the ways they were designed to function.1Bloem CJ, Chang AM: Short-term exercise improves beta-cell function and insulin resistance in older people with impaired glucose tolerance. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 93(2):387-392, 20082Ahmadi N, et al: Effects of intense exercise and moderate caloric restriction on cardiovascular risk factors and inflammation. Am J Med 124(10):978-982, 20113Walsh NP, et al: Position statement. Part one: Immune function and exercise. Exerc Immunol Rev 17:6-63, 2011