Disease Prevention

Physical activity has important positive effects on virtually all of the body's systems: musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, respiratory and endocrine. These effects result in reduced risks of coronary heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, colon cancer and Type II diabetes. As more exercise and disease research accumulates, we'll likely find many other conditions that may be prevented with regular exercise.

Probably the most compelling evidence out there has to do with exercise's ability to help our hearts: In the famous Honolulu Heart Program study of twenty-six hundred men ages 71 to 93, researchers found a fifteen percent decrease in risk of heart disease for every half mile walked per day. The men who walked one and a half miles or more per day had less than half the rate of heart disease compared to those who walked less than a quarter mile per day. Other studies have had similarly amazing results.

Have I made my case? So why is it that sixty percent of us don't get regular exercise? Here are some of the excuses I hear most often:

• "I don't have time:' Oh, how often I've heard this one. Listen, folks, if you sleep eight hours a night, you have sixteen waking hours a day. Subtract eight hours for working and two for eating and personal hygiene and you still have six hours left. In those six hours, there is no way you can't find half an hour for exercise. For other things that are important to you, you simply find or make time, and this should be the same!

• "I'm too old:' If you're over a hundred, call me for a special consultation to discuss the possibility of your not exercising. The rest of you, get up out of your rocking chairs!

• "I'm not in good health:' This is a reason to begin slowly and proceed cautiously. An exercise program can be tailored to any condition, and even the frailest person can start at a level appropriate to his or her condition. If you still have the use of your limbs, you can exercise.

• "I'm too lazy:' This is usually the real reason, and I can hardly criticize you with a straight face since, for much of my life, I've been guilty myself. The solution for you may be what worked for me: Find an exercise you really like (in my case, tennis) and build your fitness program around that. I even find it easier to do some things I don't like at allsuch as jogging and weight-training-because I tell myself they'll help my tennis game. If you find the sport or activity you enjoy, you'll look forward to doing it instead of thinking of it as a chore.

Your Heart and Nutrition

Your Heart and Nutrition

Prevention is better than a cure. Learn how to cherish your heart by taking the necessary means to keep it pumping healthily and steadily through your life.

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