Two Ways Exercise Prevents Disease
We all know the direct benefits of exercise – that the influx of buzzing endorphins increases our sense of well-being, that the boost in physical activity sculpts our muscles and tightens our waistline, and that the oxygenation to our skin creates a healthy, attractive glow. But how exactly does exercise protect us for the future?
It’s time to address the benefits of exercise as a preventative measure – for the most common diseases of the body and mind.
1. Combating Chronic Diseases
According to the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics, chronic diseases last three or more months and generally do not have applicable vaccines, medical cures or biological remedies. Cancer, heart disease, and diabetes are some of the most common offenders. The question: can regular excercise help us prevent the onset of these chronic conditions? According to research, the answer is yes.
Dr. Anne McTiernan of the Public Health Science Division conducted a study whose findings revealed that regular, moderate-intensity activity is important for reducing the risk of chronic diseases. The reason? Exercise helps eliminate intra-abdominal fat, which cannot be detected by the naked eye because it is hidden away inside internal organs. Not only does intra-abdominal fat increase the risk of heart disease and diabetes, but it can raise insulin levels, which increases the risk of cancer. With regular, moderate-intensity exercise, however, intra-abdominal fat can be reduced, and these risk factors can be mitigated. Need a better reason to get up on that treadmill again?
2. Prevention of Dementia and Alzheimer’s
Few ideas are as disconcerting to healthy adults as the gradual degradation of memory, acuity, identity and logical thought. Can exercise work to prevent the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s in older adults? Again, the answer appears to be yes.
A study featuring 1,740 persons over the age of 65 – all without cognitive impairment – followed those who exercised three or more times per week, and those who exercised less than three times per week. Six years later, results showed that those who exercised three or more times per week had a 32 percent reduction in risk of dementia. And according to the Alzheimer’s Research & Prevention Foundation, regular physical exercise reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s by a whopping 50 percent. Evidence even shows that the hippocampus, the brain’s memory center, sustains less tissue loss when older adults have higher physical conditioning.
While nothing can completely protect a person from the ravages of time and the diseases of body and mind, there are many ways to prepare positively for the future, and few are better than regular exercise. Time to hit the gym again!