This is an article I wrote and it was previously published in Healthy Beginnings Magazine. This is # 3 of 5 in a series on Longevity Medicine. Please enjoy and share.
The title is taken directly off the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) website on exercise recommendations. It continues “Being physically active is one of the most important actions that people of all ages can take to improve their health. The evidence is clear—physical activity fosters normal growth and development and can make people feel better, function better, sleep better, and reduce the risk of a large number of chronic diseases.”[i]
Even with instant internet access to health-minded information, there is still confusion as to how much, how often, and what type of exercise is required to maintain optimal health. Sadly, only 26 % of men, 19 % of women, and 20 % of adolescent Americans report meeting minimum exercise guidelines. This sedentary lifestyle, coupled with the nutrient-deficient Standard American Diet (SAD), puts most Americans at high risk for avoidable chronic disease. The benefits of exercise are well-established and irrefutable. “High-intensity intermittent exercise has acute beneficial effects on endothelial function, postprandial lipemia, and chronic positive effects on weight management...there is emerging evidence regarding chronic benefits on the blood lipid profile, blood pressure, and pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines. Furthermore, emerging evidence suggests beneficial acute and chronic effects of high-intensity intermittent exercise on cognition.”[ii] This article will document beneficial aspects of exercise on the three fastest growing health problems in the USA; type 2 Diabetes(T2DM), depression, and obesity.
T2DM is poised to engulf the USA in a wave of chronic and debilitating disease. Mortality, as well as morbidity rate in diabetes mellitus, is increasing, alarmingly.[iii] Fortunately, exercise has been shown to be beneficial in combatting the multitude of metabolic derangements seen in T2DM. The study continues “Aerobic exercise is a valuable therapeutic strategy for T2DM as it has beneficial effects on physiological parameters and reduces the metabolic risk factors in insulin resistance diabetes mellitus...including glycemic control, fasting blood-glucose level and lipid profile. Moreover, it can restore the endothelial function and reduces the arterial stiffness which is the positive denominator for developing cardiovascular complications in T2DM.”[iv] Resistance training (using muscle strength) transports glucose out of the blood stream and into the cells without the need of insulin. This has major positive impacts on T2DM long term outcomes.
Major depressive disorder (MDD) is a global public health problem being the second leading cause of disability worldwide and projected to be the leading cause by 2030.[v] Depression affects all demographics from rich to poor and young to old. For years, exercise has been shown to be the most effective treatment, even surpassing antidepressants. When combined with antidepressants, studies have shown that exercise resulted in greater reduction in depression symptoms with 75% of the patients showing either a therapeutic response or a complete remission of symptoms vs. 25% of those who did not exercise.[vi] Adding exercise also boosted patients’ sleep quality and cognition, both of which are impaired with MDD.
In 2015-2016 the prevalence of obesity was 39.8% and affected 93.3 million US adults.[vii]
Obesity is an insidious disease that leads to hypertension, heart disease, T2DM, cancer and stroke. Many of the ravaging side effects of obesity can be ameliorated with exercise. A 2017 study noted “This study provides evidence that combined resistance and aerobic exercise can be a useful therapeutic treatment for high blood pressure, insulin resistance, and central adiposity, thereby reducing the likelihood of pathological development for cardiovascular diseases in later adulthood.”[viii] Even losing a few pounds can make profound metabolic improvements, and may be the difference between living healthfully into your 80’s or expiring in your 60’s.
HHS Guidelines on Exercise by Age
-Pre-school aged children: physically active throughout the day
-Children and Adolescents 6-17 years old: at least 60 minutes per day of aerobic activity combined with resistance training at least 3 days per week
-Adults: 150-300 minutes per week of moderate activity or 75 to 150 minutes per week of vigorous intensity activity to include resistance strength training 2 or more days per week
-Older adults: 150 minutes per week of aerobic and resistance training as well as balance training- If unable to do 150 minutes per week, then what is tolerable
Please see your doctor before beginning any exercise program!
[i] https://health.gov/paguidelines accessed 1/12/19
[ii] Cooper SB et al, High-Intensity Intermittent Exercise: Effect on Young People's Cardiometabolic Health and Cognition, Curr Sports Med Rep. 2016 Jul-Aug;15(4):245-51.
[iii]Thent ZC et al Role of Exercise in the Management of Diabetes Mellitus: the Global Scenario, PLoS One. 2013; 8(11): e80436. Published online 2013 Nov 13. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0080436
v Gourgouvelis et al, Exercise Leads to Better Clinical Outcomes in Those Receiving Medication Plus Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Major Depressive Disorder, Front Psychiatry. 2018; 9: 37. Published online 2018 Mar 6. doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2018.00037
vii https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html--accessed 1/20/19
V[iii] Son et al, Combined Exercise Training Reduces Blood Pressure, Arterial Stiffness, and Insulin Resistance in Obese Prehypertensive Adolescent Girls, Clin Exp Hypertens. 2017;39(6):546-552. doi: 10.1080/10641963.2017.1288742. Epub 2017 Jun 7.