Exercise: Beneficial to Your Brain, Body and Spirit

If you want to look and feel younger as well as improve your overall health, then the answer is likely exercise and physical activity. While exercise refers to actions such as brisk walking or yoga, physical activity also includes gardening, walking around your favorite store, or any movement outside of sitting down.

According to the American Journal of Epidemiology, too much sitting is linked to a range of health risks including premature aging, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, depression, and reduced brain function.  Dr. Alpa Patel at the American Cancer Society also found that people who exercise an average of 1 hour per day have a 37% lower risk of premature death compared to people who do not exercise at all. If you do not have an hour a day to exercise, don’t sweat it! The scientific community agrees that some activity is better than none and that just 30 minutes a day of exercise or physical activity – especially activities done at a moderate to vigorous pace – can reap positive health benefits

The latest research shows that not only does regular exercise and physical activity strengthen your heart, tone your muscles, and trim your waist; but it can also add years to your life by slowing down the aging process. Even more encouraging, strong evidence points to a link between exercise and healthy brain function. A daily routine of exercise and physical activity may improve memory and other cognitive functions (such as language and attention) and may reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.  

Exercises that are good for you

The National Institute on Aging recommends the following exercises. These exercises can benefit your brain, body, and spirit.

  • Walking, bicycling, and dancing. Endurance activities increase your breathing, get your heart pumping, and boost chemicals in your body that may improve mood.
  • Yoga. A mind and body practice that typically combines physical postures, breathing exercises, and relaxation.
  • Tai Chi. A “moving meditation” that involves shifting the body slowly, gently, and precisely while breathing deeply.
  • Any activity that you enjoy! Whether it is gardening, playing tennis, kicking around a soccer ball with your grandchildren, or something else, choose an activity you want to do and do it often.

Visit the National Institute on Aging (NIA) website to learn more about the Go4Life exercise campaign for older adults

Write to Chrishun Brown at Chrishun_m_brown@rush.edu

Sources: American journal of EpidemiologyDr. Alpa Patel, American Cancer SocietyNational Institute on Aging

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