Exercise: The Ultimate Age-Defying Elixir

Regular exercise can help you shed more than pounds. Find out why working out a few times a week makes you look and feel years younger.

Boost Your Energy Level

If you suffer from a late-afternoon slump, a few minutes of physical activity will perk you up by getting more blood to your brain. You’ll even sleep better if you exercise. Doing so helps you fall asleep faster-and stay asleep. Exercising will even improve your mood, because it triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s feel-good brain chemicals.

Lower Your Blood Pressure

Following an exercise routine makes you a calmer person. People who exercise regularly don’t experience as much of a rise in blood pressure during stressful situations as couch potatoes do.

Have a Healthier Heart

Almost any kind of physical activity can strengthen your heart, decreasing your risk of heart disease. And moderate to intense exercise can improve your cholesterol profile by raising your level of HDL-the “good” cholesterol that helps prevent clogged arteries. Regular exercise may also prevent the oxidation of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, a process that encourages it to stick to artery walls.

Increase Your Lung Capacity

Regular aerobic exercise increases your lung capacity. When your lung power improves, oxygen enters your lungs more rapidly and carbon dioxide leaves more quickly. The benefit? You’re less likely to get winded.

Build Stronger Bones

Your bones grow denser with exercise, particularly with strength training and high-impact activities like jogging. Women over age 50 who strength-train twice a week for one year typically increase their bone density by about 1 percent. Compare that with sedentary post-menopausal women who usually experience a 2 percent bone loss each year, along with a higher risk of falls-a potentially perilous combination.

Reduce Your Risk of Cancer

If you exercise regularly, you stand a good chance of reducing your risk for colorectal cancer, as well as cancer of the lung, breast, prostate, and uterus.

Head-to-Toe Benefits

From arthritis to weight gain, exercise helps prevent a variety of medical disorders. It’s a well-established fact that moderate aerobic activity boosts immune system function. Studies demonstrate positive effects of exercise on the immune system in people as old as 87.

In Short, a Longer Life Span

You don’t have to work out every day to add years to your life. In a 17-year study, people who exercised at least moderately for 30 minutes, six or more times a month, outlived those who were sedentary by a margin of 43 per cent. When it comes to longevity, staying physically fit may be even more important than maintaining a healthy body weight. Researchers found that lean sedentary men have higher death rates than men who are overweight but otherwise fit.

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