What’s the key to looking and feeling better and enhancing your health? Exercise.
Moderately strenuous exercise, about 30 minutes a day, can lead to enormous benefits in terms of your mood, health, weight and the ability to live an independent and fulfilling life. The exercise doesn’t need to be athletic or difficult. Studies have shown that simply walking at a brisk pace for 30 minutes or more on most days can lead to significant health improvements. Add simple strengthening exercises two or three times a week and the benefits are even greater.
The January issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letter lists some of the benefits of 30 minutes of exercise a day:
- Lower blood pressure: A reduction of 5 to 10 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) is possible. In some cases, that’s enough to prevent or reduce the need for blood pressure medications.
- Improve cholesterol: Exercise often increases the concentration of high-density lipoprotein (HDL or “good” cholesterol in the blood), especially when accompanied by weight loss. Exercise also helps reduce triglyceride levels.
- Prevent or manage type 2 diabetes: Exercise helps insulin work better, lowering blood sugar.
- Manage weight: Coupling exercise with a healthy diet is the best way to shed fat and maintain a healthier body composition.
- Prevent osteoporosis: Exercise may increase bone density and protect against bone mass decline, especially if weight-bearing activities are involved.
- Prevent cancer: Exercise has been shown to strengthen the immune system, improve circulation, reduce body fat and speed digestion. Each has a role in preventing cancer, particularly cancers of the colon, prostate, uterine lining and breast.
- Maintain mental well-being: Exercise may help reduce stress, improve mild-to-moderate depression and anxiety, improve sleep and boost moods.
- Increase energy and stamina: A lack of energy often results from inactivity, not age.
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