Now that summer is here, the sun is shining and it’s time to get out and play. With that in mind, many of us also tend to reflect on how we are living our lives and research what kind of positive changes we can incorporate to help us succeed in work, play and relationships. One of the best ways to do this is to look at the benefits of exercise.
Exercise has an important role in aging well. Those who exercise live an average of seven years longer than those who don’t. It can prevent and control chronic diseases that affect both quality of life and life expectancy.
More than any drug or supplement, exercise has shown to promote a healthy libido in women. This also is the same for men. Over-the-counter medication such as Viagra would not be in as much high demand if men controlled their blood pressure, cholesterol and avoided diabetes.
Exercise has been shown to increase brain power. It has been revealed to be as effective as medication in many depressed and anxious patients. Even if a medication is still necessary, exercise will help. The progression of dementia also has been shown to slow in those who exercise.
Exercise gives your immune system a boost more than anything else you do. It can fend off cold and flu viruses. Exercising while you are sick might not be bad for you if it’s done in moderation — though please don’t take your germs to the gym, members will thank you. After exercise, the total number of white blood cells increase and these cells are what help fight infection in the body.
A new study published in circulation from the Journal of the American Heart Association suggests, “exercise, more than diet or weight loss, has the biggest impact on reducing heart disease. Those who are fit, even if still overweight, were more likely to live longer than those who were of normal body weight, and watched their diet.”
Lung cancer and gastrointestinal cancers may also lessen in those who exercise. In July of 2009, a British medical journal reported a 50 percent reduction rate in men dying from cancer who exercised intensely for 30 minutes per day.
Don’t want to take a drug for osteoporosis? Weight-lifting does more to prevent bone loss than anything else you can do.
If you want to remain independent as you age, exercise will help. Most falls occur with the elderly due to a loss of balance, also known as “weight shift.” A simple balance test is checking to see if geriatric patients can get up from a chair without using their arms. A majority of the elderly patients I treat have such weak quadriceps that they cannot do this simple movement, thus creating an easy threat of injury from falls. An increase in exercise is an easy way to help keep physical independence. Simple and easy movements taught by a qualified professional can help increase overall strength and help to avoid injury and remain independent.
So, whether you’re 80 or 10 years old, while you’re assessing your summertime activities, do a little research, meet with your physician and make a plan. Find time to get fit now, and you will find yourself with more quality-enriched time.
— Dr. Crenshaw is a physician with Barton Internal Medicine and owner of Anytime Fitness in Cameron Park. She can be reached at 530-543-5686.