Following four healthy behaviors was associated with a lower risk of death in this analysis of data from 16,958 people who took part in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III Mortality Study. Researchers collected information on lifestyle behaviors from the participants between 1988 and 1994 and followed the group until 2006 to determine who died. Each healthy behavior was associated with a significant reduction in the risk of death during the study follow up, but people who had all four healthy behaviors had some dramatic reductions in their risk of death. People who ate a healthy diet, got enough exercise, drank moderate amounts of alcohol, and did not smoke had a 63% lower risk of all-cause death, 66% lower risk of death from cancer, 65% lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease, and 57% lower risk of death from all other causes during follow-up compared to people who did not have any of these healthy behaviors. While many people had at least one healthy behavior, only 4.8% of the participants had all four.
- Reduces your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, diabetes, and obesity
- Keeps joints, tendons, and ligaments flexible, which makes it easier to move around
- Reduces some effects of aging, especially the discomfort of osteoarthritis
- Contributes to mental well-being
- Helps relieve depression, stress, and anxiety
- Increases your energy and endurance
- Helps you sleep better
- Helps you maintain a normal weight by increasing your metabolism (the rate you burn calories)
- Control your weight
- Reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease
- Reduce your risk for type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome
- Reduce your risk of some cancers
- Strengthen your bones and muscles
- Improve your mental health and mood
- Improve your ability to do daily activities and prevent falls, if you’re an older adult
- Increase your chances of living longer
If you’re not sure about becoming active or boosting your level of physical activity because you’re afraid of getting hurt, the good news is that moderate-intensity aerobic activity, like brisk walking, is generally safe for most people.
Start slowly. Cardiac events, such as a heart attack, are rare during physical activity. But the risk does go up when you suddenly become much more active than usual. For example, you can put yourself at risk if you don’t usually get much physical activity and then all of a sudden do vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, like shoveling snow. That’s why it’s important to start slowly and gradually increase your level of activity.
If you have a chronic health condition such as arthritis, diabetes, or heart disease, talk with your doctor to find out if your condition limits, in any way, your ability to be active. Then, work with your doctor to come up with a physical activity plan that matches your abilities. If your condition stops you from meeting the minimum Guidelines, try to do as much as you can. What’s important is that you avoid being inactive. Even 60 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity is good for you.
The bottom line is – the health benefits of physical activity far outweigh the risks of getting hurt.
If exercise and regular physical activity benefit the body, a sedentary lifestyle does the opposite, increasing the chances of becoming overweight and developing a number of chronic diseases. Despite all the good things going for it, only about 30 percent of adult Americans report they get regular physical activity during their leisure time—and about 40 percent of Americans say they get no leisure-time physical activity at all.
Help kids and teens be active for at least 1 hour a day. Include activities that raise their breathing and heart rates and that strengthen their muscles and bones.
Physical activity helps to:
- Maintain weight
- Reduce high blood pressure
- Reduce risk for type 2 diabetes, heart attack, stroke, and several forms of cancer
- Reduce arthritis pain and associated disability
- Reduce risk for osteoporosis and falls
- Reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety
Aerobic exercise is the key for your head, just as it is for your heart. It has a unique capacity to exhilarate and relax, to provide stimulation and calm, to counter depression and dissipate stress. Endurance athletes commonly experience the restorative power of exercise, and this has been verified in clinical trials that have used exercise to treat anxiety and depression.
How can exercise contend with problems as difficult as anxiety and depression? There are several explanations, some chemical, others behavioral. The mental benefits of aerobic exercise have a neurochemical basis. Exercise reduces levels of the body’s stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. It also stimulates the production of endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers and mood elevators.
Behavioral factors contribute to the emotional benefits of exercise. As your waistline shrinks and your strength and stamina increase, your self-image will improve. You’ll earn a sense of pride and self-confidence. Your renewed vigor will help you succeed in many tasks, and the discipline will help you achieve other lifestyle goals. Exercise and sports also provide opportunities to enjoy some solitude or to make friends and build networks.
Harvard Men’s Health Watch notes that you should exercise nearly every day. That doesn’t necessarily mean hitting the gym. But it does mean at least 30 minutes of moderate activity. And if you need more help with stress, consider autoregulation exercises involving deep breathing or muscle relaxation.
Have you ever heard the expression “use it or lose it”? Its true! If you don’t use your body, you will surely lose it. Your muscles will become flabby and weak. Your heart and lungs wont function efficiently. And your joints will be stiff and easily injured. Inactivity is as much of a health risk as smoking!
- Helps Prevent Diseases-Our bodies were meant to move — they actually crave exercise. Regular exercise is necessary for physical fitness and good health. It reduces the risk of heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes and other diseases. It can improve your appearance and delay the aging process.
- Improves Stamina-When you exercise, your body uses energy to keep going. Aerobic exercise involves continuous and rhythmic physical motion, such as walking and bicycling. It improves your stamina by training your body to become more efficient and use less energy for the same amount of work. As your conditioning level improves, your heart rate and breathing rate return to resting levels much sooner from strenuous activity.
- Strengthens and Tones-Exercising with weights and other forms of resistance training develops your muscles, bones and ligaments for increased strength and endurance. Your posture can be improved, and your muscles become more firm and toned. You not only feel better, but you look better, too!
- Enhances Flexibility-Stretching exercises are also important for good posture. They keep your body limber so that you can bend, reach and twist. Improving your flexibility through exercise reduces the chance of injury and improves balance and coordination. If you have stiff, tense areas, such as the upper back or neck, performing specific stretches can help “loosen” those muscles, helping you feel more relaxed.
- Controls Weight-Exercise is also a key to weight control because it burns calories. If you burn off more calories than you take in, you lose weight. Its as simple as that.
- Improves Quality of Life-Once you begin to exercise regularly, you will discover many more reasons why exercise is so important to improving the quality of your life. Exercise reduces stress, lifts moods, and helps you sleep better. It can keep you looking and feeling younger throughout your entire life.
Exercise is also considered vital for maintaining mental fitness, and it can reduce stress. Studies show that it is very effective at reducing fatigue, improving alertness and concentration, and at enhancing overall cognitive function. This can be especially helpful when stress has depleted your energy or ability to concentrate.
- Obtain medical clearance to exercise.
- Stop exercising if you feel pain.
- Don’t exercise when you are injured, sick, or running a temperature.
- Don’t over_strain during exercise.
- Don’t hold your breath during exercise.
- Always warm up.
- Always cool down.
- Drink plenty of water before, during and after exercise.
- Avoid heavy meals for about 2 hours before energetic exercise.
- Use sun screen, hats, visors, and sunglasses during outdoor daytime exercise. Think safety at all times (for example, should you be wearing fluorescent colors? Is it too cold, too wet, too stormy, too polluted, too hot, and/or too humid for safe exercise?)
- Use the right equipment and wear the right clothes for exercise (dress in layers, wear fabrics that allow heat to escape, wear good shoes).
- Work at an effective, yet comfortable, intensity level. You should be able to carry on a normal conversation while working out.
- Use good posture during exercise.
- Stop exercise and consult your physician immediately if you experience any of the following:
- chest pain or tightness in the chest, neck or throat;
- considerable difficulty breathing;
- abnormal heart rhythm; nausea’ dizziness, light headedness, or visual
- interruption; excessive cold sweat; or extreme or lasting weakness or fatigue (after exercise)
via Safe Exercising.
Like most people, you’ve probably heard that physical activity and exercise are good for you. In fact, being physically active on a regular basis is one of the healthiest things you can do for yourself. Studies have shown that exercise provides many health benefits and that older adults can gain a lot by staying physically active. Even moderate exercise and physical activity can improve the health of people who are frail or who have diseases that accompany aging.