Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D. (Dr. Oz of Oprah fame) in their book YOU: The Owner’s Manual are thrilled about what exercise can do for you. Here's what they have to say:
"Some people exercise to lose weight. Some exercise because it allows them to feel good, to reduce stress, to win races. And some people just love to sweat. But of all the reasons to be physically active, we think one trumps all the others: Do it to live younger. …Men who exercise right live eight years younger and women who do so live nine years younger."
That’s impressive. You can live younger from something as simple as exercise.
But that’s not the only benefit you’re going to get from regular physical activity. A growing body of research shows that regular exercise—even if it’s just a brisk 30- to 45- minute walk five times a week—can also support a healthy immune system by increasing the circulation of natural killer cells that fight off unwanted invaders.
Dr. David Nieman, director of Appalachian State University’s Human Performance Lab in Kannapolis, North Carolina has conducted several randomized controlled studies showing that people who walked briskly for 45 minutes, five days a week over 12 to 15 weeks, had fewer and less severe upper respiratory tract infections, such as colds and flu.
As an added bonus, the studied subjects also reduced their number of sick days by one-fourth to one-half compared with those were in the sedentary control group, says Nieman. Here’s why:
"During exercise," says Nieman, "two types of immune cells circulate more freely in the blood, neutralizing unwanted intruders. Although the immune system returns to normal within three hours, the effect of the exercise is cumulative, adding up over time to reduce illness rates," he says. Nieman compares the process to "a cleaner who comes in for an hour a day, so by the end of a month, your house looks much better."
If that’s not incentive enough for you to add some walking or other exercise to your routine, you’ll want to know this: inactivity contributes to heart, blood sugar, blood pressure, cellular, joint, bone and mental unhealth.
Regular exercise, on the other hand, can support cellular, tissue and organ health. Many studies indicate these systemic benefits of exercise. One study even took the benefits to the heart level, saying that “physical activity has an anti-aging effect at the cellular level, suggesting exercise could prevent aging of the cardiovascular system.”
If you're like most Americans, however, you spend your leisure time doing everything but getting enough exercise. While about six of 10 U.S. adults say they have some physical activity in their leisure time, only three of 10 Americans exercise regularly. It’s hurting us, too, because the lack of physical activity contributes to some 300,000 deaths each year in the United States.
If you’re looking to live younger and to reap all these other benefits, then give regular exercise a try. The bottom line is that people who exercise live younger, have more vitality and fewer health problems than those who do not exercise.
What are you waiting for? It’s time to start moving. You have a younger life to live.