Author: Winston Craig, MPH, PhD, RD.
Exercise – The Fountain of Youth
Regular physical activity is an important component of a healthy lifestyle, as it promotes health and enhances the quality of life. Regular physical activity helps protect against abnormal blood lipids and heart disease, obesity, diabetes, hypertension, certain cancers, osteoporosis, and depression. In addition, regular exercise can help decrease stress and improve self-confidence. On average, physically active people outlive inactive people, even if they start exercising late in life.
Let’s Get Moving
Unfortunately, one in every four adult Americans is completely sedentary, while another one-half are fairly inactive and would greatly benefit from more physical activity. Why are so few American’s physically active? One reason suggested is that there has been an overemphasis on high-intensity exercise. Many people believe that health benefits are achieved only through vigorous exercise.
Steven Blair of the Institute for Aerobics Research in Dallas has now shown that regular moderate-intensity physical activity provides substantial health benefits. For example, moderate-ntensity exercise can reduce blood pressure in mild to moderate hypertensives by as much as that achieved by high-intensity exercise. This is a real boon for people (especially the elderly) who have trouble performing intensive exercise.
No longer should we panic trying to find a high intensity exercise to engage in. Furthermore, the exercise doesn’t have to be continuous. It can be broken into 2 or 3 sessions. It has been found that moderately-intense activities spread throughout the day will provide measurable health benefits.
The American College of Sports Medicine recently published in recommendation that “every American adult should accumulate 30 minutes or more of moderate-intensity physical activity over the course of most days of the week.”
This means that we should incorporate more active into our daily routine, such as walking part or all the way to or from work. The one-half hour of physical actor may also include cycling, swimming, jogging, tennis, shoveling snow, aerobics, gardening or a brisk 2-mile walk every day. For many troubled by cold and ice, an exercise bike or NordicTrack can provide the needed exercise in the safety of their home.
Physical activity plays an important role in the health of children. On average, the physical activity of children nationwide is decreasing. Overall, youth fitness is on the decline. The President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports found that teenagers run the mile slower and can perform fewer pull-ups than a decade ago. Studies of young children suggest that a low physical activity is a primary factor contributing to excessive fat accumulation, which can be a precursor to adult obesity.