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Exercise – is it the key to health and longevity?

(NaturalHealth365) If you’ve ever read Growing Old Is Not for Sissies by Etta Clark, you may have already answered this question. The book is a collection of portraits of senior athletes – folks who are in exceptional shape at advanced ages. This certainly serves as evidence for the benefits of exercise.

Meet the 100 year old – aerobic instructor

As an example, one of the people included is Ida Kline, a 100-year-old aerobics instructor. Considering the fitness level of the average person, you’d probably agree that this is amazing. Are these people blessed with exceptional genes or extraordinary willpower? Or is this doorway to health open for everyone to walk through?

Abundant research indicates that anyone regardless of age can get into fantastic shape, yet 25 to 35 percent of Americans choose to remain inactive. Perhaps people who exercise appear to have more willpower due to how exercise affects the brain.

Katherine Hobson on – cites a review published by the Association of Psychological Science:

They were especially complimentary towards physical activity. “What is most impressive to us,” the authors write, “is the evidence demonstrating benefits of aerobic physical exercise on cognitive functioning in older adults.” Studies in both animals and humans “overwhelmingly” indicate that exercise helps the brain, they write, both generally and also specifically in executive functioning (things like deciding to change behavior or planning ahead), short-term memory, and focusing and maintaining attention.

Exercise improves brain function

Arthur Kramer, a neuroscientist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and one of the report’s authors, said at a news conference Wednesday that there’s enough evidence to launch a public policy campaign that includes an endorsement of exercise to improve brain function.

Could it be that just by starting on an exercise program, you’ll gain the mental stimulation to continue?

The euphoric feeling of a great workout may be just the cocktail you’ve been waiting for. Your body becomes flooded with endorphins during exercise that give you greater confidence to tackle the other challenges of your life. Hobson continues:

It doesn’t surprise John Ratey, a psychiatrist at Harvard Medical School and author of Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain. Exercise, like mental stimulation, provides a “challenge” to the brain, he says. “The brain needs to get the message that we need it to keep functioning,” says Ratey.

How to develop your brain – while you walk

A bunch of different mechanisms are thought to be responsible for the exercise-brain connection, including a growth factor called FGF-2 that is produced by exercise and is thought to be involved in the generation of new neurons. The authors of the new report emphasized the benefits of moderate exercise, saying that while walking distance was related to cognitive ability (the more you walk, the better), walking speed was not.

That’s certainly healthful, but Ratey says there might be additional benefits gained by interval training – short bursts of intense activity followed by rest periods. When you exercise more intensely, your brain produces human growth hormone that cuts belly fat, adds muscle, and “pump(s) up” brain volume, Ratey explains in Spark. It also produces more nitric oxide than steady training, he told me this week. “That’s the cardiologist’s best friend; it does so many good things for the vascular system,” he says, including acting as a “Roto-Rooter” for your small blood vessels.

Exercise will extend the quality of your life!

The August 10, 2009 Science Daily reported research from an Aerobics Center longitudinal study that examined one’s fitness level as a predictor of mortality. It studied 14,811 women who exhibited high fitness levels; one dramatic finding was that they were 55 percent less likely to die from breast cancer than women who were not as fit. This percentile rating was reflected in another independent study by Dr. Ralph Paffenbarger of Harvard University. This study included 17,000 male Harvard alumni. Dr. Paffenbarger and associates discovered that those men who exercised more than 10 hours a week and in those workouts burned up 3,500 calories on average had a 54 percent lower risk of death than those who didn’t exercise.

Naturally, there are ways to get the most from whatever type of exercise program you choose. I personally have chosen high-intensity resistance-based exercises. Why? For the same reason Dr. John Ratey states: the release of Human Growth Hormone that is triggered by intensity. As we age, HGH declines by around 14 percent per decade.

Intense exercise allows you to create and release more Human Growth Hormones (HGH)

Most people, by the time they become seniors, have seen the reverse of that youthful physical body: fat overtakes muscle and big changes in mood take place. It doesn’t have to be that way. In my 2010 book, Serious Strength for Seniors and Kids Under 65, you can read about how the amino acids like arginine and ornithine can help you release HGH and allow your body to cut those stubborn layers of fat as easily as when you were a youth.

When folks don’t see the gains in lean muscle mass and fat loss, the reason often relates to diet. Here are a couple of tips to help you: Getting enough magnesium into your diet from raw green vegetables improves insulin production. It’s insulin that controls body fat.

A healthy diet is key to healthy muscle tone

Magnesium assists this by helping construct lecithin, which eats fat. Chromium, which is found richly in seeds and nuts, is also a regulator of insulin. Raw organic hemp seed is a personal favorite of mine and is amazing in building muscle and cutting fat.

You can find 44 raw recipes and a fabulous exercise program in my latest book on Amazon, How to Build Muscle on a Raw Food Diet. While eating totally raw may not interest you, you’ll find ways to add the finest fat-cutting veggies to your diet with amazing benefits.

Add herbs to reduce inflammation and stress

As you experience both physical and mental improvement from your new exercise program, you can begin adding certain herbs, such as Ashwagandha root, which powerfully inhibits inflammation that is brought on by mental and physical stress. It also increases the red blood cell count and brings more oxygen to the cells, as well as increasing nitric oxide, which protects the heart and stimulates healthy hormone production. Various herbs and the right diet will bring untold blessings in health and supercharge any exercise program you may wish to start on.

With all these proven benefits, might it serve you to begin an exercise program today? More and more people are discovering it to be the key to health and longevity, and so can you. When might be the best time to begin?