Imagine a drug that reduces the risk of breast cancer death and recurrence by 50%, the risk of colon cancer and type 2 diabetes by two-thirds, and the risk of type 2 diabetes by 40%. risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and Alzheimer’s disease. Best of all, it may be as effective as antidepressants or cognitive behavioral therapy in combating depression.
It’s called exercise, says Dr Edward Laskowski of the Mayo Clinic.
Dr Laskowski, an expert in physical medicine and rehabilitation, said: “Activity is medicine. health benefits he cites proven time and time again by high quality research.
You don’t have to run a marathon to reap the benefits of exercise. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults can get the benefits with at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise a week plus at least two weight training sessions.
You can meet CDC guidelines by going to the gym twice a week and walking 30 minutes the other five days, says Mary Edwards, fitness director of Cooper Fitness Center in Dallas.
But any exercise is better than no exercise at all. Research has shown that people can improve their health by exercising for at least 10 minutes a week, Dr. Laskowski said. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
What type of exercise is best for you? While all exercise is good for your health, different forms will help you in different ways. As you might have guessed, your cardiovascular system gets the biggest boost from aerobic exercise.
Doctors used to recommend maintaining a steady pace with activities like cycling, walking, or swimming for at least 20 minutes. That approach still works.
But in recent years, there has been a renewed emphasis on high-intensity training. Instead of working out at the same pace the entire time, you do short bursts of exercise with maximum effort, followed by periods of easy exercise or rest.
This gives you all the benefits of traditional aerobic exercise in less time and a few extra reps. For example, High-intensity exercise seems to be more effective lower bad cholesterol (LDL) and improve fasting blood sugar levels.
High-intensity exercise is typically performed at 85% to 90% of your maximum effort. You don’t need heart rate monitors or other fancy devices to find the right level. Research has found that perceived effort is correct. If you’re sprinting as fast as you can for 30 seconds, followed by a few minutes of walking, you’re doing intense exercise.
“It’s just a matter of alternating between short periods of vigorous effort at high intensity, then allowing yourself to return at a moderate pace,” says Edwards of Cooper Fitness. .
As we age, weightlifting becomes increasingly important to slow the loss of muscle and bone density. The CDC recommends lifting weights at least twice a week, working all major muscle groups, including legs, hips, back, abs, chest, shoulders, and arms.
“Everybody loses bone and muscle as you age,” says Dr. Jonathon Sullivan, co-author of the weightlifting book for over-40s, “The Barbell Prescription.” “It’s just a fact of life. But ideally stick to as much as possible for you. “
Dr. Sullivan, who worked for many years as an emergency room doctor, says you shouldn’t exercise because you want to live longer. Instead, your goal should be to stay as healthy as possible in the years you have.
“What we are trying to do is make the dying part of our life shorter and the part of our life longer,” he said.
Twice a week, 73-year-old Carol Bateman of Kingwood, Texas, holds a dumbbell roughly her strength and performs squats or deadlifts. Bateman has been lifting for 14 years. “I knew I was getting older and I needed to do whatever I could to prevent anything natural that might get in the way,” she said.
Her trainer, Andy Baker, who co-wrote “The Barbell Prescription,” emphasizes that heavy lifting like squats and deadlifts put stress on the muscles in the hips and back. “It reduces the tendency to lose strength, lose muscle mass, lose bone density,” says Baker. “And there’s a dual benefit of improved balance.”
Ideally, you should combine weight training with aerobic exercises. If you’re really tight on time, you can do this by adding a few minutes of intense exercise after hitting the gym. Baker sometimes asks her customers to push around a weighted sled.
Those with more time can do separate weightlifting, moderate-intensity, and high-intensity sessions in the same week.
Exercise doesn’t have to be done in the gym. Dr. Laskowski said he tries to move around all day, climbing stairs and parking a little further from the office where he works.
For intense work, Dr. Laskowski walks up and down a steep hill near his home.
“I accumulate 10,000 or 15,000 steps a day,” he says. “The more activities you can incorporate into your day, the better.”
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