How Exercise Can Lengthen Your Life

How to Live Longer


Exercise is a health and lifestyle issue that appears to weigh on a lot of peoples' consciences. These folks know they ought to do more, but never quite get around to it. More than 90 percent of Americans agree that exercise is a significant part of healthy living, but only 15 percent exercise as much as they should. In spite of the sports fashion boom, Americans seem to be exercising less and less. As a country, our fitness level is going down. More than two hundred fifty thousand deaths a year, 12 percent of the national total, can be ascribed to lack of regular physical activity. Though individuals spend on fitness equipment, much of those equipment gathers dust in the basement. Expensive equipment is not what's actually needed.

 One of the key reasons that most people don't exercise adequately is that they think they must invest an hour or two in a vigorous workout to get the health benefits of exercise. Since they can't accommodate this plan into a busy schedule, they do nothing in the least. The fact is that even modest physical activity can make you considerably younger. And you don't have to allow it interrupt your daily schedule. Just 30 minutes of walking daily—where each one of us can fit into our present lives, given the slightest dedication—can make a world of difference. Getting just 750 kcal of physical activity weekly (about two ten-minute walks each day) makes you look years younger than if you did nothing. For a twofold benefit, walk while you talk to a friend on your cell phone. Being younger doesn't have to entail hard-sweat exercise, just anything that gets you out of the armchair.

 Being physically active is a magic bullet when it concerns our health, and it costs us nothing. And anybody can do it—even individuals who have been physically handicapped. As a matter of fact, such individuals really tend to do more, as they value being able to be active. Even when you have a health problem, you must integrate physical activity into your life (do so under the guidance of your physician). Actually, if you have a health problem, you ought to start an activity program, since you stand to benefit the most. Those who belong to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease and other illnesses, exercise keep the illness at bay. The biggest benefit happens when you begin exercising prior to a major health problem—an aging event—occurs. All the same, it's never too late to start.

 While we might imagine physical activity like sports as being in the realm of the young, older people who become active literally stand to benefit more. People who start doing even moderate physical activity in midlife age less quickly. Fitness researchers have even determined that encouraging the frailest of nursing home residents—people already in their nineties, and a few even one hundred—to lift weights actually makes an astonishing difference in the quality of their lives, enabling some to move out of their wheelchairs and back onto their feet. Regardless what your age or physical condition, exercise will virtually always make you younger. What is most significant about fitness is that you keep on doing some exercise. Within five years of stopping exercise, even great college athletes are no longer fit and no younger than those who had never exercised at all. Physical activity does keep you young, only as long as you keep doing it.