Longevity Coaching® = Optimal Medical and Disease Management + Financial Planning + Diet not Dieting + Supplements and Hormones + Exercise + Dis-Stress Reduction + Spirituality

Exercise

The amazing thing about cycling so much that summer of ’68, was the number of calories I needed to keep my body fueled. The next most amazing thing is the number of calories I don’t need in 2010 to keep my body fueled. Metabolism is what burns up the calories you eat. If you can’t eat less, you can burn more. That is if you metabolize more. Exercise is the safe way to speed up your metabolism at any age. And muscle mass, pound for pound, kilogram for kilogram, metabolizes more than fat. So the more muscle mass you have, as opposed to fat, the more calories you burn.

When I’ve stopped exercising for various reasons over the years, I again understand how painful it is to get started again. Jack Lalanne (that dates me doesn’t it?) was quoted as saying “the only thing worse than working out is the result of not working out”.

I believe there is no other single effort that you can make that will do more to increase your longevity than exercising on a regular basis. Especially if you incorporate stress reduction and spirituality into your exercise routine (which is what tends to happen when you do uninterrupted aerobic exercise for more than about 20 minutes at a time).

What type(s) of exercise? Good question. What are you doing already? Are you getting any aerobic/cardiovascular exercise? You need to. Is there anyone who needs to be reminded how important it is to keep your heart pumping and your lungs breathing? I personally think of aerobic exercise as “burning up the stress chemicals” which, I assure you, do tend to accumulate working in the Emergency Department. The disclaimer, if you have not been working out on a regular basis, you should get checked out by your physician first, maybe even a cardiac stress test if your cardiac risk factors are high enough. Better to have that arrhythmia or ischemia on the treadmill in the doctor’s office than on a high school track at dusk on a Sunday with no one around to call 911.

How about strength training? Remember the First Law of Thermodynamics? (No!, then see Diet not Dieting). Now for the Second. For you science majors, it deals in entropy. Basically, everything runs down. Our bodies are marvelously efficient machines. If we need to use a muscle, we will develop the muscle so that it is up to the job. If we don’t use it, it goes away.

And as we age, entropy sets in. Muscles become smaller as we stop using them. So do bones. Osteoporosis is accelerated when we don’t stress our bones. (Zero gravity is a killer, that’s why the astronauts need to work out so much on long space flights). Bottom line, stress the muscles, stress the bones, weight training. Bigger muscles not only look good, they burn the calories. Bigger bones aren’t as likely to fracture when you fall. And since falls account for one of the top 10 causes of death in the elderly (or at least the outcomes of the fall), you don’t want to fracture when you fall.

Actually you don’t want to fall, so how about doing something about that? Tai chi has been shown to increase longevity in the elderly, among other things, by decreasing the rate of falling. Balance and coordination. Being off balance, bringing the body back into balance. Incorporating inputs from balance organs in the ears, visual input from our eyes, proprioceptors in our joints. Exercising must involve the cerebellum (the balance coordination center of our brain), so as to enforce its plasticity, its ability to grow and change. And if you exercise in ways that involve aerobic plus balance, like racquet sports, bicycling, yoga, trail running for long enough to get the meditation benefits, why it’s as good as it gets!

 

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