By Stephen T. Sinatra, M.D., F.A.C.C., F.A.C.N., C.N.S., C.B.T.
Live longer and healthier with less mental and physical decline by exercising routinely. That’s the simple and unequivocal message from investigators at the Queensland University of Technology in Australia after conducting a systemic review of research “on the impact of leisure-time and general physical activity levels on physical and cognitive decline in postmenopausal women.”
Here are their main findings, published in 2014 in the European menopause journal Maturitas:
• Every previous study done associates physical activity with lower rates of cognitive and physical decline and a significant reduction in the rate of death of individuals in this age and gender population.
• Exercise that improves the cardiorespiratory capacity, that is, aerobic activity, provides the most positive results. Women at the lowest level of fitness have a 70 percent greater risk of different diseases, and a 56 percent greater risk of coronary heart disease, as compared to those at the highest levels of fitness.
My Viewpoint: Nothing surprising to me in this study, you have to move it or lose it! That’s what I’ve always told my patients. A sedentary lifestyle is a recipe for an early death. In fact, one leading expert has coined the term sedentary death syndrome. The research on the benefits is utterly undeniable.
What This Means to You: The researchers pointed out that cardiorespiratory exercise is the best. That means aerobic activity, which is enough physical movement to get your heart beating faster so that you thoroughly oxygenate your heart, lungs, and muscles. Exercise significantly improves these systems that are absolutely vital to health and daily functioning.
Recommendation: You need to move. Your body was made to move. The standard recommendation is to do 20-60 minutes of physical activity 3-5 times a week. You can easily accomplish that in a gym aerobics class, but if that isn’t your cup of tea, just go out for a brisk walk – if you want company, ask friends to join you, take your dog, or get involved in a dance group. Find something you enjoy, and move! There is no pill that can substitute for physical activity. If you need more tips and motivation, check out the book Move Yourself.
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