Monday, November 28, 2016

Why Exercise?

Consider this a public service. Time Magazine (via Maggie’sFarm) recently offered a long article on the benefits of exercise. You knew all about it already, I am sure, but there’s no harm in looking at some of the most recent research. Whatever it takes to get you off the couch….

A couple of salient passages from Time:

Scientists don’t know exactly why exercise changes the structure and function of the brain for the better, but it’s an area of active research. So far, they’ve found that exercise improves blood flow to the brain, feeding the growth of new blood vessels and even new brain cells, courtesy of the protein BDNF, short for brain-derived neurotrophic factor. BDNF triggers the growth of new neurons and helps repair and protect brain cells from degeneration. “I always tell people that exercise is regenerative medicine–restoring and repairing and basically fixing things that are broken,” Bamman says.

Repairs like this throughout the body may be the reason exercise has been shown to extend life span by as much as five years. A small new study suggests that moderate-intensity exercise may slow down the aging of cells. As humans get older and their cells divide over and over again, their telomeres–the protective caps on the end of chromosomes–get shorter. To see how exercise affects telomeres, researchers took a muscle biopsy and blood samples from 10 healthy people before and after a 45-minute ride on a stationary bicycle. They found that exercise increased levels of a molecule that protects telomeres, ultimately slowing how quickly they shorten over time. Exercise, then, appears to slow aging at the cellular level.

And also, reflecting advice that I like to give to everyone:

Dr. Robert Sallis, a family physician who runs a sports-medicine fellowship at Kaiser Permanente Fontana Medical Center in California, has prescribed exercise to his patients since the early 1990s in hopes of doling out less medication. “It really worked amazingly, particularly in my very sickest patients,” he says. “If I could get them to do it on a regular basis–even just walking, anything that got their heart rate up a bit–I would see dramatic improvements in their chronic disease, not to mention all of these other things like depression, anxiety, mood and energy levels.”

Older people, too, can benefit from strenuous exercise. Until now, all the recommendations for increasing bone density have included low-repetition, high-weight types of training, says Jinger Gottschall, associate professor of kinesiology at Penn State University. “But this just isn’t feasible for a lot of people. You can’t picture your grandma going in and doing that.” Luckily for Grandma, Gottschall’s team found that lifting lighter weights for more reps improves bone density in key parts of the body, making it a good alternative to heavy lifting.

It’s becoming evident that nearly everyone–young, old, pregnant, ill–benefits from exercise.


Dennis said...

The one thing I would add is that one might break up their exercise routine into three or more sessions. One of the most important concepts is to move as much as you can and not become tied to that chair, et al.
When I started trying to lose weight I did one 30 plus minutes in the morning. I did gradually build up to it. I got a GARMIN activity tracker with a HR monitor. One of the things that actually makes it useful is its constant nagging to move. Though it is somewhat like having two wives letting you know your failings.
After awhile I broke up my walking sessions into 3 smaller sessions after each meal. One gets more time in with less wear and tear on the body and my mind is free to "roam" and analyze various ideas and events. Just watching the morning grow into full bloom can demonstrate the majesty of nature and all around you.
I have gone from 220 pounds down to 176 pounds. Now it is much more difficult to lose so I keep reminding myself that it took years to gain it so it is going to take a long while to lose it. Another positive side affects is that most of the pills I had to take have been removed from use there by improving my physical and mental health.
If one is going to enjoy life as they get older one needs to be healthy enough to enjoy it.

Ares Olympus said...

Its all good, just avoid injury. My running coach says "Rx exercise" for his motto.

This was my 11th year of running, and I passed 10,000 miles logged last winter. Sometimes I've wondered if my running was excessive, at least certain training cycles can have a lot, but dividing time by days in total its only 24 minutes per day, and 21 miles/week.

I only did one marathon, and overall can't recommend the distance unless you really like challenges and boasting rights, finishing and racing a marathon are two very different things.

Last summer had an article that said a 5k was the best distance, a 45 walk, or 25 minute run for a good in-shape runner. Here it is.
Williams’s research also found that the benefits of running might start to disappear at higher distances. People who exceed 30 miles per week may be at some increased risk of mortality relative to people who are at lower distances, Williams said, particularly if they have pre-existing health conditions. But it’s important to keep these findings in perspective: Among heart attack survivors Williams studied, runners never had a greater risk of a fatal heart attack than people who were sedentary.
Typical 5K training plans call for something on the order of 10 to 30 miles of running per week or the equivalent in timed runs — in the optimal range for health benefits.

So by focusing on the 5K, you’re optimizing health benefits and minimizing injuries, and if you’re deliberate about your training, you can maximize your fitness gains too. Training seriously for the 5K will get you close to your biological potential for aerobic fitness, Joyner said. “Seriously is the key though,” he said. The secret is high-intensity interval training, or HIIT — short periods of very hard efforts interspersed with easier recovery bouts.

I've been a life long biker, which is a much more practical exercise, and you don't have to be in as good of shape to bike long distances or time, although I'm not sure if the complaints about too much sitting applies to bikes as well. And since I've been running, I admit I probably take my commuting speeds more leisurely.

A couple of my coworkers have treadmill desks, and I've never tried that. They only go about 1mph, but if they do that 6 hours a day, that's much more than the 10,000 steps per day goal.

I've heard more than a few 30-something women who took up running say the reason they stayed away is they didn't want to mess up their hair or get all sweating. Apparently fashion also helps women feel cool when they start to run, and so looking cool in their new outfits is a part of the game.

Minnesota also has Olympian Carrie Tollefson to help get the women out there. Her motto is "Get after it"

But for men, I think its all easier - just get some shoes and a step counter or heart rate watch if you're fancy, and see what you can do, and then push just a bit harder next time. It's addicting, and pretty cheap.

I've never had a GPS watch, and you can use google maps to estimate distances when you explore your neighborhood.