Ten Powerful Anti-Aging Benefits of Exercise
Many people think that the physical effects of aging are inevitable. Losing muscle, gaining flab, and weakening bones are assumed to be a part of getting old. Disease and physical pain are considered par for the course.
In fact, these painful adaptations are a result of an inactive lifestyle. With the proper fitness program, the physical deterioration of aging is completely preventable.
Exercise can strengthen your heart, muscles, lungs, and skeleton. It can help you keep your belly slim and your muscles toned. You can give your brain a boost, reduce (or eliminate) joint pain, and radically lower risk of chronic disease like diabetes or cancer. Best of all, exercise increases energy, vitality, and improves your ability to cope with stress.
To convince you to start training, here is a list of ten of the most powerful benefits you can get from exercise.
Benefit #1: Maintain Muscle
One of the strongest predictors of longevity is how much muscle you have. Not only is muscle mass in the lower body linked with having less belly fat (the dangerous kind that raises risk of heart disease), but it is also associated with the ability to survive cancer and other diseases.
Benefit #2: Protect Your Heart
Exercise elicits adaptations that keep your blood vessels flexible and your heart strong so that oxygenated blood reaches muscle and organs with less effort. Exercise also helps prevent the buildup of inflammation that degrades cardiovascular function and contributes to heart disease.
Benefit #3: Build Strength
Studies repeatedly show a close association between how strong you are and how long you will live. One explanation is that as strength decreases, risk of falling increases. Fractures in the elderly often start a downward health spiral ending in mortality. For example, statistics in the UK show that 33 percent of people who fracture a hip die within 12 months.
Benefit #4: Prevent Fat Gain
Exercise burns calories while you’re doing it and during the 24-hour recovery period as your body recuperates. Along with the metabolic boost you get from maintaining your muscle mass, this combination helps to prevent the fat gain that comes with creeps up on you in an aging body.
Benefit #5: Avoid Diabetes
Often incorrectly thought of as a result of eating too many unhealthy carbs, diabetes is the result of inactivity and too much body fat. Exercise counteracts this by making muscle tissue sensitive to insulin, improving your body’s regulation of blood sugar and, lowering body fat.
Benefit #6: Keep Your Brain Sharp
Emerging research links exercise to less depression, better memory, and quicker learning. Exercise can also lower the risk of brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s by allowing for better metabolism of fat and glucose in the brain, reducing the deposition of harmful plaque that is linked with cognitive decline.
Benefit #7: Strengthen Bones
After age 35, there is a decline in bone mass of 1 to 2% a year, which increases fracture risk. Weight bearing activity can counteract this. Studies show that overloading the bone with strenuous loads is the best way to build bone in young and old people—one study found that elderly women who did a strength training program gained 1% bone density after a year.
Benefit #8: Improve Hormone Balance
Hormones regulate everything from metabolic rate, to mood, to energy levels. Hormones can easily get out of balance in modern society due to inactivity, excessive stress, and obesity. Exercise has been shown to “reset” hormone levels, improving balance of testosterone, estrogen, insulin, cortisol, and others so you feel and look good as the years go by.
Benefit #9: Prevent Cancer
Studies consistently find that people who are physically active have lower cancer rates along with greater chance of cancer survival. The association is explained by the fact that exercise lowers body fat, counters inflammation, and restores metabolic and hormonal function.
Benefit #10: Boost Mood
Depression is a common aspect of aging due to decrease in brain transmitters like serotonin and dopamine that help us feel upbeat and motivated. Exercise improves release of these chemical messengers, while also triggering beta endorphin that give you the “runners high” after a workout. The sense of accomplishment may also improve mood—after all, it’s hard to be down when you know your body can handle whatever challenge comes your way!
What do you need to do to get started?
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