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An Exercise Program for You

September 23, 2016 by  
Filed under blog

Last week I wrote about the “New Science of Exercise” as talked about in Time Magazine.  Since science has confirmed the huge benefits of exercise for both health and longevity, I thought it was pretty darn important to give some more specifics concerning exercise.

We all know that it takes mental and physical energy to make ourselves move and move enough that it really can make a difference for a good, healthy, long life.  As mentioned in the article, the World Health Organization advises “most adults to do 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity each week and twice weekly muscle strengthening.”  But what counts as moderate-intensity exercise?

According to the article, moderate-intensity is “everything you think of as exercise plus lots of stuff you don’t, including brisk walking, playing with the kids, walking the dog, carrying heavy groceries or gardening.  Do at least 10 minutes at a time, and break it up however you want.”  This is great news because most of us could easily sneak in 10 minutes of activity here and there to make up that 150 minutes.

If you are hesitant to start or speed up your exercise program or, like many people, are not looking forward to the idea of starting a strength training regimen, please remember the ‘baby step’ concept.  You can go ahead and set big goals but concentrate on taking baby steps, especially at first so you don’t get discouraged. For instance, the recommended 150 minutes of aerobic activity a week may sound like a lot but break that up into chunks of time that work for you. It could be just two 11-minute play sessions with your kids or dog each day or 40 minutes of gardening 4 times a week or 30 minute chunks of time 5 days a week doing whatever aerobic activity sounds good that day.  Work in those two strength training sessions each week and you will be in really good shape to live a long and healthy life.

But if this still sounds like too much to take on right away, start with just 60 minutes the first few weeks—maybe 10 minutes a day with one day off–then gradually increase the number of minutes each day until you are at 150 minutes a week.

Here are a few other little secrets that have helped me with my exercise program.  First of all, I tried to work my baby steps into small but regular habits; like instead of driving down my very long drive way to pick up the morning paper I starting walking which takes about 15 minutes. Later on I started to zig zag my walk to increase the time and the total steps it took. Also, I began parking my car on the far end of the parking lot at whatever store I might need to go to. The great thing about these little activities, is that once they turn into habits, you don’t even think about what you are doing, you just automatically do it.

Another of my little secrets is that I made it a goal to get to know and hang out with more active people.  It’s also very helpful to be married to a wonderful person who seems to always be in motion. My wife helps even more by frequently asking me how much exercise or how many total steps and time I logged in for the day. Even my friends started asking me my total minutes or steps logged for the day or week. Having people around you that are interested in health and longevity and are doing it themselves, is very, very helpful and motivating. Try it and I’ll bet it works for you too!

 

 

Is There Really an ‘Exercise Cure”?

September 16, 2016 by  
Filed under blog

Did you see the cover of Time Magazine’s September 12-19 issue with the headline “The Exercise Cure“? That certainly got my attention! But then I wondered what did it cure? The author, Mandy Oaklanders said, “Doctors, researchers, scientists, even ancient philosophers have long claimed exercise works like a miracle drug.” She followed that up with the real attention grabber, “Now they have proof.”

Experts are not only talking about how exercise can cure sickness and disease but also how it can lengthen your lifespan. Now I don’t know about you but I find this to be pretty exciting news. After reading the entire cover story–which I recommend that you take the time to read–I’m certainly more motivated to keep up my exercise program and don’t even need to increase it. The good news is that researchers found that to get these health, curative, and longevity benefits you don’t have to go crazy with hours and hours of working out. Just regularly running or jogging for as little as 5 or 10 minutes is linked to a longer life.

In the article, examples and reasoning are discussed with Dr. Mark Tarnopolsky of McMaster University. He did a study with mice that had terrible genetic diseases. He divided the sick mice into 2 groups and for 5 months the first group was allowed to be very sedentary. (Maybe he had a mouse couch in front of a mouse TV for each of those mice in the first group? Ha ha.) The second group of mice were coaxed into running 3 times a week.

At the end of the 5 months, he found that the sedentary group was just barely hanging on. “The fur that had yet to fall out had grown coarse and gray, muscles shriveled, hearts weakened, skin thinned … even the mice’s hearing got worse. They were shivering in the corner, about to die,” Tarnopolsky says. But there was a huge difference with the second group. Quoting from this wonderful article, “… the group of mice that exercised, genetically compromised though they were, were nearly indistinguishable from healthy mice. Their coats were sleek and black, they ran around their cages, they could even reproduce. We almost completely prevented premature aging in the animals,” Tarnopolsky says.

At this point I was asking myself, “Yes, but does this exercise thing work just as well in humans?” Well, apparently it does. Doctor Tarnopolsky has found similar results happen in his ill patients–he treats kids with severe genetic diseases like muscular dystrophy. “I’ve seen all the hype about gene therapy for people with genetic disease but it hasn’t delivered in the 25 years I’ve been doing this. The most effective therapy available to my patients right now is exercise.”

Tarnopolsky now thinks he knows why. In studies where blood is drawn immediately after people exercised, researchers have found that exercise slows down the aging of cells because it increases levels of a molecule that protects telomeres so those telomeres in a person’s cells don’t shorten as fast. From everything I’ve read over the years the slower your telomeres shrink your cells the healthier your cells will be, so the cells live longer and so will you.

“Going for a run is going to improve your skin health, your eye health, your gonadal health,” Tarnopolsky says. “It’s unbelievable. If there were a drug that could do for human health everything that exercise can, it would likely be the most valuable pharmaceutical ever developed.”

So how do you go about getting the exercise you need to live a long and healthy life? Start now by getting a daily walk or run in if you don’t already. Then next week, we’ll talk more about what is recommended so you can reap the benefits of this exercise cure.