Exercise to Extend Your Life

Exercise and regular physical activity are directly associated with both longevity and enhanced quality of life, so put your best foot forward and spend some time now so you'll be able to have a grand time later!
05/09/2016 04:33 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

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Imagine if there was a pill you could take that was free and would virtually eliminate, or at least minimize most disease processes. It would provide you with energy and strength to live your life beyond what you thought was possible. Everyone would want this pill and if it worked as well as it promised, just think of how healthy our population may be.

Of course this "pill" does exist. It's called regular physical activity and exercise.

According to the World Health Organization's Global Health Risks data physical inactivity is the fourth leading cause of death globally only behind high blood pressure, tobacco use, and high blood sugar. The American College of Sports Medicine Exercise has published some staggering statistics on the powerful impact of physical activity on our health:

Research shows that a low level of physical activity poses a greater greater risk of dying than smoking, obesity, hypertension, or high cholesterol. For older men, regular physical activity can decrease the risk of death by 40%.

  • Active individuals in their 80s have lower risk of death than inactive individuals in their 60s.
  • Regular physical activity can:
  • Reduce mortality and the risk of recurrent breast cancer by approximately 50%.
  • Lower the risk of colon cancer by over 60%.
  • Reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease by approximately 40%.
  • Reduce the incidence of heart disease and high blood pressure by approximately 40%.
  • Lower the risk of stroke by 27%.
  • Lower the risk of developing type II diabetes by 58%
  • Be twice as effective in treating type II diabetes than the standard insulin prescription and can save2250 per person per year when compared to the cost of standard drug treatment.
  • Can decrease depression as effectively as Prozac or behavioral therapy.

These statistics should offer inspiration and motivation to start a regular exercise routine if you're not engaged in one now. It doesn't take much to gain these health benefits (See Ornish Living article, Two Minutes of Walking Can Save Your Life) and more. Exercise doesn't need to be complicated, costly or grueling. It's actually just the opposite. Exercise can be relatively inexpensive, quite simple and must be enjoyable! (See Ornish Living article, Jump Start Your Fitness Routine Without Breaking the Bank).

Here are some key strategies to help you create space for more exercise and activity in your life:

  • If you can only do five to ten minutes of walking or other activity at a time that's great! Continue to challenge yourself to do more. You can always do multiple five-minute walks throughout the day.
  • Strive for 150 minutes of activity per week. This would include walking, gardening, yard work or other active tasks.
  • Exercise has to be enjoyable! Find exercises, classes or routines you enjoy. If you enjoy a social environment find a friend or gym where you can talk and have social support.
  • A little exercise can go a long way. Do more than you are used to and your body will improve. Remember, we're not aiming for perfection just consistency. Move more every day!
  • Each day brings about a different set of challenges whether it's time, energy or other commitments. Learn to roll with those punches yet keep exercise as a priority.
  • Lastly, if you need help with exercise search for it. In most communities there are knowledgeable fitness professionals who can help you along the way whether you are a beginner or an exercise veteran.

So do you need exercise in your life? Chances are yes if you're looking to live life to it's fullest in both years and quality. Exercise and regular physical activity are directly associated with both longevity and enhanced quality of life, so put your best foot forward and spend some time now so you'll be able to have a grand time later!

How have you found ways to create space for more exercise in your life?

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