The Link Between Regular Exercise And Healthy Lifestyle
Is Regular Exercise the True Fountain of Youth?
We all know the story of Ponce de Leon and his failed quest for the fountain of youth. However, the concept of eternal youth still holds a certain allure, several centuries after the fact. Although the market is permeated with a vast number of creams and potions that promise to turn back the hands of time, few, if any have been shown to be effective.
However, there is one way that studies have shown to be useful in reducing the ravages of time on the body, and that is through regular exercise. Read on to learn more about how exercise can keep you feeling years younger, and how a lack of it may lead to an early grave.
Over the past fifty years, people have become far less active, and it shows in our ever-expanding waistlines. Modern conveniences have made it easier for us to go about our daily lives expending much less physical effort for our survival, but an unfortunate result of these advances has been an epidemic of obesity.
According to the Center for Disease Control, two-thirds of Americans can be classified as overweight, and one-third are clinically obese. Although Americans are at the head of the worldwide pack in terms of obesity, several European countries including UK, are not far behind. This is a deadly serious matter, as the health effects of obesity threaten to obliterate all of the wonderful progress we’ve made in medicine that have extended our lifespans over the course of the last one hundred years.
More specifically, obesity is positively correlated with Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, various gynecological conditions, and breast, colon, kidney, thyroid, pancreatic and gallbladder cancer. In addition to these deadly diseases, obesity makes it difficult to perform the daily functions of everyday life, such as taking the dog for a walk or climbing the stairs at work. Suffice it to say, a poor diet and lack of exercise will age you and lead to a multitude of health problems early in life.
However, you’re not doomed to a life of obesity. The following types of exercises will put you on the right track toward finding your own personal fountain of youth and pave the way for you to live a healthy lifestyle.
How cardiovascular exercise keeps us young
Health experts have always known that people who exercise on a regular basis tend to stay healthier as they get older, but the problem is why that has always eluded many. Recent studies have shown that marathon runners have cells that look younger when viewed under a microscope, and scientists observed that they had longer telomeres, which is basically the DNA located on either end of chromosomes. The shortening of these telomeres occurs each time a cell divides, and when they get too short, cells can no longer divide and they eventually die.
Some scientists speculate that telomere shortening may make people more vulnerable to diseases such as heart disease and cancer as they age. Scientists went on to undertake animal studies in the lab, and soon discovered that the mice that exercised created more proteins that stabilized the telomeres in their bodies. These same results later panned out with humans, showing that professional athletes usually had longer telomeres than healthy non-athletes in middle age. In addition to the telomeres, they also had slower resting heart rates, lower blood pressure, and were much less likely to be obese. All of these studies can be found in the American Heart Association journal, entitled “Circulation.”
How strength training keeps us strong
Although its benefits are not as widely touted, strength training also plays a vital role in keeping us young. In fact, studies show that protein consumption and increased muscle mass are essential to fight off sarcopenia, which basically is a condition where older individuals lose their muscle mass, and therefore, their strength. This is a process that begins at a younger age than many people appreciate — around age 40. Even worse, it’s a condition that affects one in three people over age 70. For the young readers — this is why elderly people are so concerned about falling, and why it can have such a profound effect on their overall health. However, it doesn’t have to be this way. It’s important to build up muscles and make use of them, because if you don’t, you’ll lose them, leading to a multitude of negative health consequences.
How a yoga and stretching routine keeps you supple
There are several ways in which a regular yoga routine can help you remain young, but perhaps the three most important are an increased range of flexibility, a better sense of balance, and a calmer approach to life. The flexibility that is at the core of yoga practice can reduce arthritis by promoting great joint health, and the greater range of motion can serve as a protective factor that makes it easier for you to perform routine functions in old age, such as cleaning and bathing, while reducing your chance of injury when exercising.
Also, the emphasis placed on balance in yoga can reduce the possibility of falling and seriously injuring yourself in old age. By developing your core muscles and improving your sense of balance, you may be preventing a fall that could place you in a nursing home, and that’s not an exaggeration.
Finally, yoga teaches you how to manage stress and control your negative feelings through deep breathing. Thus, it lessens stress, reduces depression, and improves heart health. In fact, studies have shown that a regular yoga practice can reduce high blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood glucose. Considering all of these factors, yoga is an exercise practice that you don’t want to leave out of your daily regimen and healthy lifestyle strategies.
The verdict is in — the legend is real. Regular exercise is the closest thing that exists to a fountain of youth, and its benefits have been well-documented. A combination of cardio, strength training, and yoga, in addition to a healthy diet, is the best weapon we have to ward off obesity, that great slayer of lifespans. By making the above mentioned changes to your lifestyle, you’ll soon find yourself looking and feeling much younger than many of the people in your age group.