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Healthy Lifestyle


Andrew C. Villa, MD, FACOG, FACS, FICS dr_andrew_c_villa_profile
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Exercise to Live Longer


Exercise can help us look good, feel good and become more energized. What many people don’t realize is that regular exercise also helps us live longer. It helps fight against cancer and other medical problems. Some of these include obesity, osteoporosis, forgetfulness, depression and impotence. All these problems can rob us of our youth and make us grow old prematurely.

When we look at a person who exercises and is in shape, usually we are impressed by the way he or she looks. By exercising and building the muscles of our bodies, we build and tone our muscles to give us that shapely sexy body that we would all prefer to have. We can do more because toned muscles function better. If this healthy lifestyle habit helps us to look great on the inside, doesn’t it make sense that it also helps the organs on our inside look good, feel good and function better also?

Exercise Improves Cardiac Fitness

There are many scientific studies in the medical literature that have shown the life extending effects of exercise. The famous Framingham Heart Study found that expending 2,000 calories a week in physical activity increased life expectancy by two full years. This is equivalent to walking about an hour a day.

A Stanford researcher, Dr. Ralph Paffenbarger, studied more than 17,000 Harvard students for a quarter century after graduation and concluded that every hour spent in vigorous exercise as an adult is repaid with two hours of additional lifespan.

The most obvious and significant effect of aerobic exercise is that it exercises the heart and thus raises cardiac output. In so doing, it strengthens the heart muscle, improves its blood supply, and increases the fitness of the heart, or what we call cardiac fitness.

We probably have all heard about cardiac fitness and how exercise improves the health of our heart. But research is also discovering increasing evidence that exercise also improves the fitness of other organs in a similar fashion.

Exercise Improves All Organ Fitness

The 1996 Surgeon General’s Report on Physical Activity and Health concluded that exercise is beneficial to almost every organ and system in your body. This includes your digestive system, your kidneys, your bones and your brain.

Exercise increases intestinal motility, the speed with which food passes through the gut, and reduces the incidence of many gastrointestinal disorders. One can see a reduction in gallstones and diverticulitis, a painful inflammation that results when food is trapped in pockets in the intestinal wall. Exercise also cuts the risk of colon cancer by almost half.

In fact, regular exercise seems to lower the rate of cancers of many organs of the body. Women are less likely to develop the dreaded breast cancer, plus there’s a decreased risk of uterine cancer. In men younger than 60, regular aerobic exercise has been shown to cut the risk of developing prostate cancer.

Osteoporosis, or the thinning and weakening of bones as we get older, is markedly reduced with regular exercise. An older woman who has developed this debilitating problem can fall and break her hip or other bones easily. A hip fracture has been associated with a reduced lifespan for these people.

Diabetes is markedly reduced with regular exercise and weight control. This is a disorder of glucose metabolism in the body which could cause multiple problems if the glucose level rises to high levels. This disease also affects the capillaries of our blood vessels, resulting in potentially fatal complications including blindness and kidney failure.

The incidence of diabetes is growing rapidly – up 33 percent between 1990 and 1998 – which seems to be rising along with the rapidly growing obesity epidemic of our population. Diabetes is strongly linked with obesity, a high-calorie, high-sugar diet, and an overeating, over consuming population.

High blood pressure can also be helped with regular exercise. This disease can cause “hardening of the arteries”, also called atherosclerosis. We treat high blood pressure with medications to help decrease this development which can result in heart attacks. If we can reduce the risk of having a heart attack, wouldn’t this help us live longer?

Not exercising or eating proper diet can increase the risk of us developing Atherosclerosis. Here the arteries become clogged with fatty substances deposited along the sides of the blood vessels. In so doing, this restricts the blood traveling through the vessels and results in a decreased circulation through them. Less blood flow means less oxygen and nutrients go to the organ and can make it unhealthy.

Certain types of fats in our blood vessels, called lipoproteins, can either worsen this process or improve it. Exercise decreases the bad lipoproteins, called LDL, and increases the good lipoproteins, called HDL, to improve our health. It thus improves circulation throughout the body, including to our vital organs.

This improvement in circulation also occurs in the male penis. A study last year of 2,000 men over 50 found that those who exercised at least 20 minutes a day were half as likely to suffer sexual impotence as those who did no exercise at all.

There is a growing body of evidence that exercise can enhance brain function. Improvement in sleep can occur. Moderate exercise at least four days a week was shown to add almost an hour of additional sleep to most people’s nighttime rests. Memory and thinking ability are enhanced as people age if they exercise regularly. This has been proven in multiple studies, showing improvement of 15 to 20 percent on memory tests.

Exercise Helps Us Stay Young

The brain, the heart, and all other organs benefit from the increased blood flow brought about by regular aerobic exercise. An increase in blood flow brings more oxygen, glucose and other nutrients to all the organs of the body. This includes the muscles and the skin which helps us look good.

This improvement in health and fitness helps these organ systems work more efficiently and have less chance of developing problems. They “look” better. This in turn helps them to function longer so we live longer. Isn’t this what we mean by anti-aging?

Exercising to look and feel younger is a new way of looking at this healthy lifestyle change. The True HCG Diet program encourages exercise activities to help you really get the weight off. Plus, it has so many other life preserving consequences. It should be a lifelong prescription for health and longevity that all of us should embrace.

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