The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends 2.5 hours of moderate to vigorous activity each week for optimal physical health, concluding that this amount of exercise reduces the risk of:
Your concierge family practice doctors at MD 2.0 in Jupiter, Florida, realize that to some people “exercise” is a chore. But study after study demonstrates the health benefits of regular movement, as well as the dangers of little-to-no exercise.
The danger of not exercising
Here’s another study that underscores the dangers of the sedentary lifestyle. Published last month in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), this one found that a lack of regular exercise is as detrimental to health as smoking, diabetes, and heart disease.
“Being unfit on a treadmill or in an exercise stress test has a worse prognosis, as far as death, than being hypertensive, being diabetic or being a current smoker,” Dr. Wael Jaber, a cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic, told CNN. The senior author of the study, he called the results “extremely surprising.”
“We’ve never seen something as pronounced as this and as objective as this,” he added. “[Being unfit] should be treated almost as a disease that has a prescription, which is called exercise.”
Researchers investigated 122,007 former patients at Cleveland Clinic who were tested on a treadmill between January 1, 1991 and December 31, 2014. They found those with the lowest level of fitness, i.e., a sedentary lifestyle, had a risk of death almost 500 percent higher than those who were the most physically fit.
This is only the latest study to document the danger of the sedentary lifestyle. Here are just a few others:
- A Texas study published in January found that for people over 50, regular exercise reversed the effects of aging, including hardening of the arteries and less efficient heart muscle action.
- Another showed a 40 percent decrease in cancer deaths among those who were more active than their sedentary counterparts.
- In the famous Nurses’ Health Study, those who exercised for a half-hour or more a day halved their risk of heart attack and stroke.
- Another Texas study found that men who were considered physically active lowered their stroke risk by two-thirds.
There are many others, and they all reach similar conclusions: A lifestyle that includes little physical exercise is deadly.
Too late to start?
But what if you’re no longer in the so-called “prime of life”? It’s a little late to bother with exercise, isn’t it? The answer is a resounding no. One study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology tracked the progress of 33,000 Swedish men from 1998 to 2012 who began exercising at an average of age 60. They reduced their risk of heart failure by 21 percent.
The important thing to remember when starting an exercise routine later in life is to start slowly, don’t push yourself, and work your way up to maximum fitness level. You may never compete in the Olympics, but you’ll notice improvements in every area of your life.
Benefits of exercise
Whatever age you begin regular exercise, you’ll begin to notice the positive effects within days. According to the Mayo Clinic, here just 10 of the many benefits of regular aerobic exercise:
- Losing weight and keeping it off
- Increased stamina
- Warding off viral illnesses like colds and flu
- Reduced risk of obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, stroke and certain types of cancer
- Control of chronic conditions including coronary artery disease
- Strengthening the heart muscle to slow the pulse, pump blood more efficiently, and improve blood flow to the entire body
- Boost the “good” cholesterol (high-density lipoproteins or HDL) while lowering “bad” cholesterol (low-density lipoproteins or LDL) helping to reduce plaque buildup in the arteries
- Reducing tension, anxiety, and depression
- Helping maintain mobility and brain function in older age
- Living longer.
We cannot stress this enough: Regular exercise is vital to your overall health and well-being. If you’re tired of feeling tired and dealing with various aches and pains, pick an exercise and go for it. Just be sure to check with us first.
Your concierge family practice doctors at MD 2.0 in Jupiter, Florida, would like to remind you that this week is the 19th annual National Women’s Health Week, when an alliance of government organizations spearheaded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) calls attention to the ways women can improve their health.
Although New Year’s resolutions are sometimes seen as an exercise in futility, research shows that approximately 45% of those who make them are still sticking with them six months later.
There is nothing wrong with using the start of a brand-new year to turn the page on old health habits and create new ones. But while approximately 40% of adults say they make New Year’s resolutions, fewer focus on helping their children use this practice to initiate new health habits.
Feeling kind of blah lately? Not as much energy as you had all summer? Not so willing to drag yourself to parties, or even out of bed? What about swimming? Tennis? Volleyball? Can’t think of even one good reason to chase a little white ball around with a stick when they couldn’t keep you off the course all spring and summer?
Maybe you’re depressed. Or maybe you’re just normal. We here at MD 2.0 Jupiter often begin to notice a subtle change in many of our clients around this time of year, even here in Florida, where we don’t have to face the extreme plunges in temperature. Nothing serious, just a little less enthusiasm, a bit less cheerfulness, a little less energy. Carb cravings and changes in sleep patterns are also a part of the syndrome. It doesn’t happen to everyone, but if you’re feeling something less than your usual perky self, rest assured there’s a scientific reason for it.
It has several names: “winter depression,” “seasonality,” “seasonal affective disorder (SAD),” but the fact is, researchers have determined that the shorter days in winter are the chief cause of winter blues. This likely has an ancient-survival connection, as humans learned to restrict activity when food sources were scarce. Of course, that’s not a problem today, but the tendency may still be hardwired into our biology, and people may experience symptoms on a sliding scale from barely noticeable to full-blown clinical depression.
Your body’s circadian clock, which triggers sleep and wake cycles among other bodily regulatory mechanisms, also decrees the output of serotonin, the so-called “mood” hormone. Studies have revealed that the circadian-related output of serotonin drops markedly with the decrease in light during the winter. This has led to fairly successful attempts to boost the winter mood of sufferers with light-box therapy, which employs specially built full-spectrum lamps to alleviate symptoms.
If you feel the “winter blues” are impacting your life, your concierge practitioners at MD 2.0 Jupiter can help you employ the correct light therapy, prescribe such antidepressants as generic Paxil at a low price and Prozac, or recommend cognitive behavioral therapy. Meanwhile, there are steps you can take to mitigate milder cases.
1. Stay active, preferably outdoors
Exposure to early morning light has been shown to be the most effective at reducing symptoms, as has vigorous exercise. An early morning walk or run might be all you need to boost your spirits.
2. Light up your life
If you can’t get outside, at least let the sunshine in as much as possible. Open blinds and drapes first thing in the morning, and keep them open all day.
3. Eat right
Yes, we’re still singing that same ole song, because it’s important. Simple carbs and sugars wreak havoc with your blood sugar, and hence, your mood. Lean meats, fruits, vegetables and complex carbohydrates are what your body needs to keep your brain in top shape.
Meanwhile, be sure to let us know if your low mood begins to interfere with your daily functioning. We can help.
Real healthy living starts with a commitment to making healthy decisions today in preparation for well-being tomorrow. It’s a lifestyle choice that requires dedication to the ideals and application of whole life health principles for body, mind and spirit.