A little exercise reaps big rewards
Okay, so maybe running a marathon is a bit out of scope for your lifestyle, but getting off your duff and adding a little exercise to your routine can make one big difference. Experts say it can give you a longer life.
Exercise or die?
A study published in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise looked at nearly 4,400 healthy American adults, dividing them into groups based on fitness levels. The group with the lowest physical fitness level – roughly 20 percent of the study group – was twice as likely to die over the next nine years as the 20 percent that did some exercise.
That's a startling conclusion when you take in to account that other health conditions, such as high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes, were factored into the study. The bottom line is that a little exercise really does go a long way toward keeping you healthy.
What's the difference between no exercise and a little exercise?
Surprisingly, there really isn't that much difference between being sedentary and exercising a little. Nearly two-thirds of the least-fit study participants were not getting the minimum recommended amount of exercise considered moderate activity, like brisk walking for 30 minutes, on five or more days a week. What does that mean for you? It's time to TiVo that half-hour TV show and go for a walk. Not a lot to ask, and research suggests that your longevity depends on it.
The study divided the participants into five groups based on fitness levels; they found that one-quarter of the least-fit men and women had died during the study period, versus 13 percent of those who were in slightly better shape. Among the adults in the most-fit group, only six percent died during the nine-year follow-up period. Ready to get up and move?
Anytime is a good time to start getting active
The effects of exercise kick in no matter how long a person has been inactive. This includes seniors. According to the National Institute of Aging, regular exercise and physical activity can reduce the risk of developing some diseases and disabilities associated with growing older. In some cases, exercise is an effective treatment for many chronic conditions. It also improves the quality of life regardless of age. Living better for longer is one of the biggest benefits of adding a little physical activity to your day.
Recommended exercise can be spread into 10-minute intervals
The US Department of Health and Human Services recommends that adults aged 18 to 64 should get at least two hours and 30 minutes each week of aerobic physical activity that requires moderate effort. Moderate effort exercise includes biking slowly, canoeing, dancing, general gardening (like raking), doubles tennis, brisk walking and water aerobics, to name a few. The two hours and 30 minutes a week can even be broken down into 10-minute intervals. Ten minutes is the minimal block of time needed to get some benefit, and these short intervals can add up over the week to vibrant long-lasting health.
How to add a little exercise into the mix
There are a number of ways you can make exercise a part of your weekly routine.
Join a health club. You can get the benefits of a wide variety of exercises that help you build cardiovascular and muscle strength. You can also take the extra step of working with a trainer. They will help keep you on the straight and narrow, and improve the efficiency of your routine.
Join a walking/running club. There are clubs in almost every community. Often being part of a group will help keep you motivated to improve and keep you coming back consistently. If walking or running isn't your preferred form of activity, join a bike or swimming club.
Do exercise you enjoy. Fitness doesn't have to be running on a treadmill. There are a lot a ways to get an extra amount of exercise into your week. You can dance, keep up with your kids or grandkids, or play sports activities that you like. Even taking your dog for a fast-paced walk counts toward improving your health. Making the time to be active will make a difference.
Getting off your duff and exercising even a little may seem arduous if you have been sedentary. However, if you set small goals, are consistent, and don't feel as though you've got to train like an athlete, you will reap the rewards of living a longer, healthier life.