Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A New and Improved Life

To live long and well, we must exercise.  We’ve been told this for years, and we still don’t get it.  There’s just no substitute.  Dieting and maintaining a healthy weight are great, but they’re not enough.  Exercise does things for the mind and body that nothing else, including diet, can do.  Check out three ways regular exercise can improve your life and see if you can get excited enough about just one to get you going.
1. Cancer - Exercise reduces your risk of cancer or improves your prognosis if you do develop it.  As the people I know age, I learn of new cancer diagnoses almost every week.  The risk of colon , breast , endometrial , pancreatic , and several blood forming cancers are all affected by exercise, either directly or indirectly through weight management.  Strive to do the highest level of aerobic exercise that you can manage safely and will continue with, since some cancer risks are reduced only with moderate to vigorous exercise.
2. Dementia - Exercise creates new brain cells.  Aerobic exercise increases blood flow to the brain and stimulates new brain cell growth and the connections between them.  It also increases the supply of BDNF, a protein that promotes the growth of nerve cells and synapses that enhance memory and learning.  Three years ago I lost my father after watching his abilities in these areas diminish over several years.  It was a painful experience for both of us and something I’d like to see us all avoid.
3. Diabetes - Exercise improves insulin sensitivity.  As we age or put on weight (or both, as many people do), our bodies become less insulin sensitive, increasing our risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.  In this case, both aerobic exercise and strength training will garner these benefits provided you exercise at least every other day.
In addition to lowering your risk of developing these debilitating conditions, exercise is a simple and inexpensive way to look, feel, and be your very best!
Source: Nutrition Action December 2009

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