Exercise as Medicine – Join Us in July!

Exercise as medicine

It’s a well known fact: Regular workouts may help fight off colds and flu, reduce the risk of certain cancers and chronic diseases and slow the process of aging.

But, new research shows that regular exercise – even something as simple as a brisk 30-45 minute walk five times a week – boosts the body’s immune system, increases the circulation of natural killer cells that fight off bacteria and viruses.  It even helps improve the body’s response to the influenza vaccine!

David Nieman, director of Appalachian State University’s Human Performance Lab in Kannapolis, N.C. states, “No pill or nutritional supplement has the power of near-daily moderate activity in lowering the number of sick days people take.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that over 45% of U.S. adults do not engage in any leisure-time physical activity.  Inactivity, according to most medical experts, poses as great a health risk as smoking and contributes to osteoporosis, heart disease, arthritis, hypertension, depression, diabetes and cancer.

Even those that are lean and inactive – both women and men – are at a higher risk for death and disease.

The ongoing damage done to cells, tissues and organs that underlie many chronic conditions can be combated with regular exercise and studies show that it can also cut the incidence rate of Type 2 diabetes, lower blood pressure and reduce bad cholesterol.

Scientific studies now suggest that exercise induced changes in the body’s immune system may protect against some forms of cancer i.e. Harvard Medical School’s consumer Web site (hms.harvard.edu/public/consumer) notes that more than 60 studies in recent years taken together suggest that women who exercise regularly can expect a 20% to 30% reduction in the chance of getting breast cancer compared with women who didn’t exercise.  The outcome could be related to lower estrogen levels from exercising.

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association of 3,000 women being treated for breast cancer showed that for those patients with hormone-responsive tumors, walking the equivalent of three to five hours per week at an average pace reduced the risk of dying from the disease by 50% compared with more sedentary women.

Can exercise influence the aging process?  Researchers are investigating – in particular, they are looking at whether exercise lengthens telomeres, the strands of DNA at the tips of chromosomes.  When telomeres get too short, a process associated with aging, cancer and a higher risk of death, cells no longer can divide and they become inactive.

German researchers compared two groups of professional athletes (32 of whom were in their early 20s, and 25 who were middle-aged) with two groups (26 young and 21 middle-aged) who were healthy nonsmokers, but not regular exercisers in a study published in November in Circulation, the medical journal of the American Heart Association that show the athletes had significantly less erosion in telomeres than their more sedentary counterparts.  The conclusion suggests exercise could prevent aging of the cardiovascular system and that physical activity has an anti-aging effect at the cellular level.

Join us for month seven of the Self-Care Revolution as we explore: Exercise as Medicine

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