Regular exercise is one of the best medicines for preventing or alleviating a wide variety of diseases and health problems. Tackle these 7 health issues with regular, invigorating work-outs.
THE AGING MIND
There has never been more research and evidence for the positive effects of exercise on the aging brain. Cognitive skills, memory, and basic mental functioning of those over 60 are vastly improved after a regular exercise regimen. There is even initial evidence of exercise significantly delaying the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Lisa D. Ravdin, PhD, director of the Weil Cornell Neuropsychology Service, clarifies: “People who are more active, physically and mentally, fare better in terms of cognitive aging. It may be that those who exercise are generally more health-conscious and they engage in more health-related behaviors that result in better aging. However, there is also ample evidence that physical activity enhances cognitive mental function by increasing the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the brain. It essentially fuels the brain and improves brain function. Exercise can also help build a network of neural connections, which supports improved information processing and storage of information.”
Getting your heart rate up for at least 30 minutes or more eases anxiety and stress in difficult circumstances. When the heart is pumping, mood-stabilizing neurotransmitters like serotonin are released, calming the mind. Giving yourself a work-out before an important event like a job interview rarely fails to lower stress levels. According to the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, people who regularly exercise “report less overall stress, anxiety and depression.”
People who exercise 150 minutes per week – the recommended guideline – are far less likely to suffer from insomnia. Oregon State University’s Brad Cardinal, PhD, co-director of their exercise and sport psychology program, asserts: “Exercisers fall asleep faster, suffer fewer middle-of-the-night wake-ups and have a reduced risk of sleep disorders. We aren’t sure why activity primes your body for sleep so well, but it’s likely a combination of factors, including lowering your core body temperature, increasing the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin and supporting a biological need to restore energy levels and repair cells and tissues when you sleep.” Sleep won’t be affected if a work-out is completed at least 3 hours before bedtime.
The sedentary lifestyle ubiquitous in or modern age doesn’t help the muscles surrounding the lower spine. Strength training for abdominal, oblique and lower back muscles is one of the acknowledged best remedies given by doctors and back specialists. Exercise scientist Wayne Westcott, PhD, of Quincy College in Massachusetts explains that targeted work-outs can both treat and help avert pain: “It can lessen pain by 30 to 80 per cent in 10 to 12 weeks.” Since the back is often an enigma even to specialists, make sure you get your doctor’s okay if your problem is debilitating.
Yielding to daily food temptations is not only bad for the waste line, but can bring on a myriad of other serious health problems. Those mid-morning or mid-afternoon sweet tooth cravings can be fought off by a brisk walk or something more rigorous. John Ratey, MD, author of the best-selling Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, clarifies how it works: “In the throes of a craving, your brain is saying ‘feed me dopamine!’ – that neurotransmitter that taps into the reward center of your brain. You can satisfy the call with carbs – or with exercise.” That piece of decadent chocolate cake and a good bout of exercise both raise your dopamine levels. One may make you feel guilty, while the other may even make you somewhat glow.
At least 80% of women experience night sweats and hot flashes during menopause and for many, for some time before. Physically fit women have the advantage of a healthy BMI, which effectively lowers stress levels. High stress produces hot flashes for some women. Excess weight exacerbates menopausal symptoms. A recent study in the journal Menopause found that a brisk half-hour walk or jog reduces hot flashes by almost 75% over 24 hours.
THE COMMON COLD
Exercises that effectively get the heart rate up and the blood flowing increases immunity to common colds. Cells are forced out of bodily tissues and surge into the bloodstream, where they defend against bacteria and viruses. A recent study from Appalachian State University found that 5 days a week of energetic cardio reduces the odds of getting colds by 43%. Workouts of more than 90 minutes can weaken the system, actually making illness more likely.
Also in this web site see these 4 similar articles:
The editors, “Research Shows Benefits of Exercise on Mental Functioning”, Iris Cantor’s Women’s Health Advisor, October 2012
Jessica Girdwain, “Fix It With Fitness”, Health, May 2013
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