We all would like quick, easy, and relaxing ways to be fit and healthy, as well as to live a long and healthy life, without the yucky diseases of the heart, veins, brain or other organs. And, while some aspects of longevity are debated [supplementation, diet, brain activities and the like], exercise definitely is not. In fact, exercise can result in dramatic changes, and increase in health, and it can even reverse some problematic bodily issues. Here are just some of the very solid research results on fitness and health:
1. National Institutions of Health: “People who exercise regularly not only live longer, they live better”.
2. A 10-year McArthur Foundation Study of Successful Aging concluded that “the powerful effects of exercise and calling it the only anti-aging regimen that actually works.”
3. Besides quitting smoking, the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University confirm that “there is no single thing that will increase vitality at any age other than exercise.”
4. A more than 40 year Harvard Nurses’s Health Study with over 250,000 participants notes that “higher levels of midlife physical activity are associated with exceptional health status.”
5. Doug Seals, a vascular-aging guru at the University of Colorado, says “based on all available evidence, exercise has the most powerful anti-aging effect, head to toe.”
6. The College Alumni Health Study, a 40-year study with 50,000 participants examining activity, health, and longevity found that people who exercise live better, look better, feel better, and live longer. Lifespan increases for each minute increase on a treadmill. On average, those who are active, lively and disease-free lived five years longer than those who don’t exercise.
7. An 80-year long study of 1,500 Californians found that being active in midlife was the single most important predictor of good health.
8. Regular exercise can help prevent more than 25 diseases and health conditions later in life, according to a review of more than 40 studies on the benefits of exercise in the International Journal of Clinical Practice.
9. Research of the world’s healthiest and longest-lived people from Japan to Pakistan to Russia to Ecuador over three decades found that the two main things the healthiest had in common was chilling physical activity as part of their daily lives and a mostly plant-based diet.
10. Even if a person doesn’t start exercising until they are older, they can still reap benefits and turn back the clock: people aged 75 or older benefitted from starting an exercise program. Their muscle strength increased and reversed the progressive effects of ‘functional decline’ (the ability to perform daily acts of living).
So… you get the point: exercise is amazingly good for people to engage in to stay healthy, increase the lifespan, and maintain good mobility. Yet, amazingly, fewer than 2 out of 10 Americans exercise the recommended amounts – a modest 30 minutes five days a week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and prevention. Also, more than 25%of Americans get NO exercise at all.
What’s the BEST exercise to do?
Well, there are all sorts of studies and recent fitness craze-of-the month flavors to choose from. There is HIIT [High Intensity Interval Training], gentle jogging, fast walking [which may be the same as gentle jogging], burpee [yes, really, that’s a name for an exercise, which is, a squat, plank, into another squat, jump up, push-up – a basic calisthenics], squats, swimming, water aerobics, yoga, and many, many more. They all have their proponents, and they all have good health benefits. But, the bottom line is (and I have personal experience with this) choose something you enjoy and can stick with [or change things up periodically if it’s hard to stick with one thing]. The main thing is to move your body, break a sweat, and do it regularly. Get outside if you can and enjoy the outdoors [and get a little Vitamin D at the same time], or go to the gym a few days a week, or both, but do something and move your body! Your body and mind/brain will more than likely thank you in your ‘golden years’!
Kessler, Lauren 2013. Counterclockwise: My Year of Hypnosis, Hormones, Dark Chocolate, and Other Adventures in the World of Anti-Aging, pages 162-177.