Body of Evidence
Everyone knows “exercise is good for you”. Pretty bland assessment. Authorities around the world have researched the topic in depth. The benefits of regular exercise for people of all ages have been well established. Nevertheless, inactivity continues to be a major public health concern, with many people failing to exercise as recommended.
Approximately, only 22 percent of the U.S. adult population meets the minimum requirement of physical activity —150 minutes of exercise per week — according to the New York State Department of Health. One study showed that adults who watch more than 4 hours of television a day had a 46% increased risk of death from any cause and an 80% increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease. According to a CBS news study, it linked physical inactivity to more than 5 million deaths worldwide per year, more than those caused by smoking.
There are two terms floating around out there that could be a little confusing to would-be exercisers. So let’s clarify. Although used interchangeably, there is a difference between physical activity and exercise. Physical activity is defined as any bodily movement produced by the skeletal muscles resulting in energy expenditure that exceeds resting energy expenditure. Exercise is considered a subcategory of physical activity and is defined as planned, structured, and repetitive body movements that are performed to improve or maintain one or more components of physical activity. In other words, physical activity is activity that gets a person moving, such as walking to the mailbox, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or even gardening, whereas exercise includes activities such as weight training, tai chi, and aerobics classes. Physical activity and exercise are both important for health and fitness. While the American Heart Association (AHA), the National Institute on Aging (NIA), The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) use physical activity in the titles of their recommendations, by definition they are referring to exercise.
TURN BACK THE CLOCK
Rule number one, and the only rule when it comes to exercise:
IT’S NEVER TOO LATE.
Many people assume that they’re too out-of-shape, or sick, or tired, or just plain too old to exercise. Regular exercise is the only well-established fountain of youth,” writes New York Times personal health reporter Jane Brody. The American Council on Exercise reports that people over 50 can slow or even turn back the clock. Even people in their nineties living in nursing homes can start a routine that can boost muscle strength. No one, not even the disabled can come up with a good excuse not to exercise. As they say, age is just a number.
LIFE CHANGER, LIFE EXTENDER
Exercise has life giving and life enhancing power. Without question, it is one of the most important things you can do for your health increasing your chances of living long and better. Consider just some of its benefits…According to experts such as John Hopkins Hospital, exercise can
- Control your weight
- Reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease
- Lower risk of colon, breast, endometrial and lung cancer
- Reduce your risk for type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome
- Strengthen your bones and muscles
- Lower risk for, strokes, type 2 diabetes and depression, improving your mental health and mood
- Boost your memory
- Improve your ability to do daily activities and prevent falls if you’re an older person
- Improve blood circulation
- Prevent and manage high blood pressure
- Prevent bone loss
- Prevent muscle atrophy
- Ease back pain
- Reduce arthritis pain and joint stiffness
- Help you sleep better
- Boost energy level
- Help delay or prevent chronic disease and illness associated with aging
- Beginning to get the point?
MAKE THE MOVE
The World Health Organization recommends 150 minutes of exercise every week. That might sound like a lot. Actually, it’s only a little over 20 minutes a day. What’s more, you don’t have to do it all in one chunk. You can split it up. For instance, take a 10-minute walk in the morning and pedal on a stationary bike for 15 minutes in the evening — you’re done.
If you ask, “What should I be doing? there’s no questioning here. There are established building blocks of a well-rounded program.
Aerobic (endurance) exercises
Regular aerobic exercise provides the following benefits:
- Protection from heart attack, stroke, diabetes, dementia, depression, colon and breast cancers, and early death
- Builds endurance
- Keeps the heart pumping at a steady and high rate for a long time
- Boosts HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels
- Helps control blood pressure
- Strengthens the bones in the spine
- Helps maintain normal weight
- Improves one’s sense of well-being
Aerobic exercise is usually categorized as high or low intensity. You need to sweat, but you don’t have to sweat it. Brisk walking burns as many calories as jogging for the same distance and poses less risk for injury to muscle and bone.
Strength or resistance exercises
While aerobic exercise increases endurance and helps the heart, it does not build upper body strength or tone muscles. Strength-training exercises build muscle strength. These exercises help maintain bone density and lower risk for heart disease, possibly because it lowers LDL (the so-called “bad” cholesterol) levels.
Each year, millions of older people—those 65 and older—fall. In fact, one out of three older people falls each year. Falling once doubles your chances of falling again. That’s why these often forgotten exercises are so crucial. They benefit your neuromuscular coordination, improving the communication between your brain and muscles. They help with muscle isolation forcing you to maintain stabilization, training the muscles in your pelvis, lower back, hips and abdomen to work in harmony.
Flexibility or stretching exercises
Many stretching exercises are particularly beneficial for the back. In general, flexibility exercises help prevent cramps, stiffness and injuries and improve joint and muscle movement (improved range of motion.) Certain flexibility practices, such as yoga and tai chi, also involve meditation and breathing techniques that reduce stress. Such practices appear to have many health and mental benefits. They may be very suitable and highly beneficial for older people, and for patients with certain chronic diseases.
NOT JUST MUSCLE POWER, BRAIN POWER
BAs reported in the Harvard Medical School Harvard Health Publications, researchers say one new case of dementia is detected every four seconds globally. They estimate that by the year 2050, more than 115 million people will have dementia worldwide. In a study done at the University of British Columbia, researchers found that regular aerobic exercise, the kind that gets your heart and your sweat glands pumping, appears to boost the size of the hippocampus, the brain area involved in verbal memory and learning. Resistance training, balance and muscle toning exercises did not have the same results. Brain scans of older adults who exercise have shown an increase in the thickness of the cortex, the outer layer of the brain that typically shrinks with Alzheimer’s disease. Many people think it is too late to intervene with exercise once a person shows symptoms of memory loss, but some data suggest that exercise may have a benefit in early stages of cognitive decline.
YOUR PERSONAL BEST
When it comes to exercise, your toughest opponent is you. The only thing you’re really competing for is your ongoing health and well-being. There’s a new definition of “personal best” that anyone can achieve. But you can’t achieve it if you don’t go for it. You don’t have to be an athlete. Although just as a bit of inspiration, The National Senior Games or “Senior Olympics” is a sports competition for seniors from the United States. It is a multi-sport event specifically devoted to adults aged 50+, with oldest competitors being over 100 years old. Competition categories include everything from horseshoes to badminton, bowling, cycling, table tennis, archery and swimming, to name a few. Exercise shouldn’t be intimidating, but rather fun and rewarding.
AS WE AGE, OUR HORMONES BEGIN TO FADE PARTLY BECAUSE OF LEADING SEDENTARY LIVES AND EATING BADLY. HORMONE BALANCE AFFECTS OTHER EFFORTS TO IMPROVE YOUR HEALTH INCLUDING EXERCISE AND GOOD NUTRITION. DR. STEPHEN A. GOLDSTEIN, M.D, F.A.C.S. AT DENVER HORMONE HEALTH IS AUTHORITY ON THIS. ONE MEETING WITH HIM AND YOU’LL UNDERSTAND ALL HE CAN DO TO MAKE ANY IMPROVEMENTS IN YOUR LIFESTYLE MEAN MORE. HE STARTS WITH SIMPLE TESTS TO DETERMINE YOUR HORMONE LEVELS FOR ANY EXCESSES OR DEFIENCIES THAT COULD BE NEGATIVELY AFFECTING YOUR HEALTH. AT THAT POINT HE CREATES A UNIQUE AND COMPREHENSIVE TREATMENT PROGRAM THAT WHEN COMBINED WITH EXERCISE AND NUTRITION MAKE YOU FEEL BETTER THAN YOU HAVE IN A LONG TIME. SO IF YOU’RE LOOKING TO PUMP UP YOUR PROGRAM,
GIVE US A CALL. EXERCISE ALL YOUR OPTIONS.