ne of the first math equations we learn in school is 2 + 2 = 4. This mathematical fact
is relatively fixed. If we want the outcome to be 5 instead of 4, we have to back up and change one or both of the numbers. Only when we make such a change will the equation result in the outcome we desire.
This principle of needing to change the factors works in health and fitness as well. We can’t do the same thing we’ve been doing and expect a different result. If we want different results we have to change the factors. This is the principle of the efficacy of personal response and can be symbolized by the equation E + R = O: Event plus Response equals Outcome. An understanding and application of this principle can radically improve how we manage our health and fitness.
Let’s look at the three components of the ERO equation and how choices relate to health and fitness.
Choosing the Difference
Event: Regardless of our status, three constants impact our quality of life. These events are aging, genetics, and environment. Aging is the process of growing older, moving constantly toward the end of life. Genetics is what we inherit from our parents and their parents. Environment is where we find ourselves at birth and throughout life, which can influence our development and lifestyle.
Outcome: Each of the above events impacts our lives, and we basically can do little to change their reality. Left alone, without positive choices on our part, these events may lead us to an outcome we do not want. We will age, experience illnesses, and realize decreasing physical abilities. Eventually we will die. But the quality and quantity of our life have a lot to do with our choices. We can influence the outcome. We do this through the R of the equation.
Our Response: We can dramatically influence the outcome by the response we have in regard to the events we are dealt in life. We have a choice. We don’t have to be helpless victims, buffeted by life’s events.
Power of Intention
People intent on improving their physical health have many forms of exercise to choose from. One mode of exercise may work better for one individual rather than another. For me, I have found running to be my exercise of choice. In the past several years I’ve run more than 45 marathons (26.2 miles) in 31 of the 50 United States. In the process I’ve not only seen a marked improvement in my physical health; I’ve raised more than $200,000 for Oakwood University through the Running for Scholarships program. But in order to run at this level, I have had to take very intentional steps.
One good lifestyle system that is available—which has aided me—is the CREATION Health model developed by Florida Hospital in Orlando. This model emphasizes the power of choice and the personal response factor in the ERO equation. CREATION enables individuals to maintain a high level of fitness, and this preparation is all very deliberate.
Three years ago when I decided to increase my running, I had to take very distinct steps. I lost some pounds, began working out six times a week doing strength training and cardiovascular exercise, drank eight or more glasses of water daily, maintained a healthful diet, and got adequate sleep. I also practiced regular devotions, trusted in God, and managed stress. OK, I didn’t do all the steps perfectly. But they formed the basis of my training regimen and continue to be part of my lifestyle.
So, returning to ERO: the E of the equation—the events of aging, genetics, and environment—will affect us. But the R—the response of good health habits—can positively affect the outcome, the quality, and the quantity of people’s lives.
A lifestyle of fitness and health doesn’t happen by accident. It takes planning, commitment, determination, and hard work. Admittedly, my schedule as a university president takes additional coordination to train at a level at which I can complete marathons; and I couldn’t do it without the support of family, staff, and good medical counsel. Since 2008 I have adjusted to a more manageable running schedule, but vigilance remains the price of health and fitness.
Ellen White said it best: “Our first duty toward God and our fellow beings is that of self-development. Every faculty with which the Creator has endowed us should be cultivated to the highest degree of perfection, that we may be able to do the greatest amount of good of which we are capable. Hence that time is spent to good account which is used in the establishment and preservation of physical and mental health” (Counsels on Health, p. 107).
Delbert W. Baker, Ph.D., is President of Oakwood University in Huntsville, Alabama. He enjoys marathoning and mountain climbing. He and his wife, Susan, have three adult sons.