Sunday, August 23, 2009

Stay Young, Play Young.... Exercise!

Remember when you were little and you would run and jump, just to run out of breath? Jumping was fun! Running was easy (and fun), riding your bike was just "something to do." You would play "tag" and all kinds of crazy games, that involved running and jumping. It was fun! Crazy to think that a body that was not even fully developed could withstand all that activity, and still grow! What an amazing creation our bodies are. Where did all that energy, and enthusiasm go?
After 28 years of research, Exercise Physiologist Fred Kasch has decided that "aging naturally accounts for about one-third of the body's aerobic decline. Inactivity accounts for the remaining two-thirds of the downward slide."(Health, May/June 1993 p.62) Jim Graves from the University of Florida Center for Exercise Science adds that, "Exercising will prevent most age related deteriorations through age 60." Research confirms that "the fountain of youth" lays within you, and within your grasp.
An example of remarkable health, and a well being would be fitness pioneer, Jack LaLane. We all remember him, and his simple routines developed to get the homebody up and moving. At age 60 (Well above the age 60 indicated above!) he is still a monument to fitness, nutrition and well being. He still sports a 32-inch waist, 44-inch chest, and 15-inch biceps! No atrophy here! He can still easily touch his hand to the floor, without bending his knees. His resting heart rate is the equivalent of an athlete, at 55 beats per minute. How, you might ask, has he managed to keep his youthful physique, and energy level up? He follows a vegetarian diet, and works out vigorously everyday, still. Here are a few other suggestions from our fitness example:
*Exercise a minimum of 30 minutes per day, three to five times per week. Change your routine every three to four weeks.
*Set short term fitness goals, and follow through.
*Slowly change a few "bad" habits for "good" habits.
*Eat food in its natural state and in as many varieties as possible.
*Pass on caffeine, sugar, alcohol and cigarettes.
Drink plenty of plain water.
(CNN Interview, Monday, January 19 2004, Posted 2:22PM EST) Jack is an inspiration to all and his life is a testimony to the benefits of healthful eating and exercise.
Other suggestions if you are new to exercise would be:
*start slow, and build.
*Make sure your doctor has given you a clean bill of health.
*Work with a fitness professional, even for a short time, who can help assess your strengths and weaknesses. Your program should be about you, not a cookie cutter program. Make sure that this person has the proper credentials, and maintains them.
*Keep a journal for food and exercise. It will keep you informed as to progress, moods, and habits you might not otherwise notice.
*Try new things. It is important to stimulate your body and mind with a variety of exercises, and exercise modalities. The same old same old, will not give your any progress. Your body adapts in four to six weeks of continuous training. Exercise should be progressive to avoid repetitive stress. It also keeps the mind active throughout the activity, preventing boredom and injury.
Additionally, exercise makes us feel better. This also contributes to a youthful attitude. Scientifically, exercise directly impacts the brain chemistry. Sleep, mood, memory and behavior are all influenced by a chemical in he brain called Serotonin. Persons with low serotonin levels have bouts of depression, have trouble sleeping, memory problems and can even have episodes of violent behavior. Regular exercise has been proven to positively influence serotonin levels. Increases of serotonin from exercise improves mood, decreases stress, aids in sleeping, and improves memory.
A positive impact has also been noted in cognitive function in individuals that regularly exercise. From childhood through to old age, improved scores in mental acuity have been noticed. In a study of forty-one adults, aged 58 through 78, that was conducted for six weeks saw an increases in brain wave activity after only three weeks. This was measured by use of magnetic resonance imaging. (MRI) These individuals programming consisted of three 45-minute walks three times per week. These individuals also displayed an increase in their decision-making abilities.
Exercise, for me, takes me to another level of existence, one where anything is possible- as long as I keep trying!! Exercise is not about the superficial results, it is about so much more than that. While a complete exercise program is multifaceted, it is important to find the RIGHT components for your body (physiologically , physically(mechanically), kinesthetically (neurologically), aerobically, and mentally/spiritually), experience level, and of course interest level. Exercise is movement based. It is important to do the right movements for your body, with the right amounts of intensity, with the correct amount of frequency to ensure healthy results. It is about the inside, not the outside. The outside is just the side effects of a healthy, whole person.

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