Exercise: the No-Medicine Medicine

Exercise can keep you young! Well, not this young. . . .

There have been so many studies on the health benefits of exercise that it’s surprising more people don’t run right out to the gym.  The most recent study, out last week in the Archives of Internal Medicine, shows a clear link between regular moderate to vigorous exercise and the prevention of cognitive impairment (which I take to mean Alzheimer’s). The introduction to the study spells it all out:

Physical activity appears to be one of the more promising preventive strategies against cognitive impairment in the elderly population. In most studies, people who are more physically active in midlife and late life have lower rates of dementia and cognitive impairment in late life. In addition, people who participate in higher levels of physical activity have slower rates of cognitive decline compared with those who are less active.

In other words, working out can either keep you from suffering dementia or Alzheimers, or, at the very least, slow its progression. If a plant growing in the rainforest had these properties, drug companies would be scrambling to turn it into a highly profitable drug. Instead, it’s a drug-free drug that we can all have just for the doing. How amazing is that?

We already know that exercise helps prevent heart disease and cancer, lowers blood pressure (thus helping prevent strokes), relieves stress, has a measurable effect on diabetes, helps with weight maintenance,  improves depression,  and lessens arthritis symptoms. It even appears to slow the aging process dramatically at the cellular level.  In short, it’s good for pretty much anything that ails us, while helping us live longer and better.

So what are you waiting for? Wait, don’t tell me.  I think I know the excuses, err, reasons you’re about to give.

Sure, exercise can be a pain–literally.  Assuming you put a lot into it (why bother, otherwise?), it’s hard, time-consuming, and sometimes expensive.  For example, I work out 4 to 5 days a week, at least 3 of those in Jazzercise classes.  After an hour of strenuous working out, by time I take a shower and eat supper, it’s nearly 9 before I settle in for the evening. If I plan to have dinner with a friend or go to an event, I have to rearrange my workout schedule accordingly. On Sunday mornings, I often walk, and Saturday mornings, I’ll sometimes take in a water aerobics class just to change things up. All in all, a pretty substantial time commitment, which I consider an investment in my well-being and long-term mobility.  You may not have the time flexibility that I do, but you can still manage some kind of exercise, even if it’s only a walk at lunchtime.

Think about it, please.

Exercise Pros: Helps prevent almost every serious disease or health condition. Keeps you mobile. Is good for your brain.

Exercise Cons: It takes effort.  Can cost money (though walking and running are basically free.) Time consuming.

Reasons for not Exercising: None, unless your doctor forbids it, and if he/she does, maybe you should seek a second opinion. I’ve seen stroke victims, paraplegics, extremely obese people, amputees, sufferers of MS, and people nearly crippled from arthritis working out at my gym. And you’re going to say it’s inconvenient or too much effort? Oh, wah.

Conclusion: Shift your derriere into gear today!

Read more:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/01/28/AR2008012801873.html

http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1956619,00.html

Be well.

Donna

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2 Responses to Exercise: the No-Medicine Medicine

  1. elizasims says:

    Amen! I’m not as faithful as you, Ms. Donna (nor do I look as good as you do!) but I am a true convert. Now, if I don’t work out 3-4 times a week, I am a slug. My workout gives me so much more energy, clarity and overall vitality, I can’t function without it any more. Once you do it for a little while, you can’t wait to dig in and you miss it when you can’t get to it for some reason.

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