This is an excerpt from the book, A Pocket Full of Posies, a collection of articles written by Martha Benedict.
Everyone knows you should exercise, but did you know the enormous body of research substantiating the health claims for exercising? Perhaps you noticed the Harvard study published in May (2002) where men were tested for the effects of exercise and the lack of it at age twenty and again thirty years later at age fifty. Even though the fifty-year-olds were out of shape at the beginning of the study, after a protracted exercise regime, their performance approached their personal twenty-year-old output!
There are certainly many kinds of exercise. Choose something you like that is age and body-type appropriate, and matches your personal, work, and living style. For example, I find that what works for me is to do something with other people such as walking, dancing, a yoga or chi gung class, tennis or gardening.
The important thing is moving your muscles and body gracefully within your muscle range and in a relaxing context, where stress can be reduced.
There is a book, Strong Women Stay Young by Miriam Nelson, Ph.D, that counts the advantages of two forty-minute exercise sessions for women ages 65 through 92 completed at Tufts Medical School in Boston. After six months of a series of simple stretches and exercises performed with no fancy equipment, members of the study group needed less reliance upon walkers or wheelchairs, fewer medications or reduced dosage of medications, they slept better, had better appetites, and had a profound enhancement of joie de vivre. This is true for men too.
This sounds too good to be true. If you were reading an advertisement making health claims of this breadth and magnitude, I’d be the first to suggest caveat emptor, or let the buyer beware. In the case of exercise, however, I throw my hat into the ‘pro’ exercise ring with conviction. It has taken me a number of years to get into the groove in my own life patterns. Each year I’ve been able to increase the amount of time dedicated in my day to body movement. Each time I dance, or go to a Yoga class, or walk or hike with friends, I honestly wonder why I have had so much resistance. I really love the way I feel during and afterwards. I extend the invitation to all readers to find out for themselves the joys of frequent exercise.
For those of you who need a more convincing, I have collated the bottom line from a lot of medical studies and summarized the beneficial effects of exercise for you below. Each of the benefits listed in the next paragraph is a conclusion from an actual research project. There is a good reason listed for everyone. I invite you to begin including exercise for fun and health into your plans this year.
Here are twenty-five reasons to exercise:
Exercise improves immunity, strengthens bones, prevents cancer, improves stress tolerance, prevents insomnia, prevents constipation, prevents anxiety, prevents depression, increases activity of anti-aging enzymes, increases endorphins, slows neuromuscular aging, reduces body fat, simplifies weight control, improves insulin response, reduces blood pressure, increases reaction time, improves body’s ability to dissolve blood clots, increases physical work capacity, increases maximum oxygen intake, enlarges coronary arteries for better blood circulation, improves the heart’s pumping action, increases cardiac output, reduces resting heart rate, gives glowing light through the skin, and improves sex life.