benefits of exercise

  1. Physical activity slashes disease risk

    How perching on your posterior could kill you

    Here's some news you don't want to read sitting down -- because if you spend too much time parked in a seat with little to no physical activity, you're facing big-time health risks.

    It doesn't matter if you have a perfect weight.

    It doesn't matter if you're healthy by every mainstream measure.

    It doesn't even matter if you exercise every day and have regular physical activity -- because if you're spending hours at a time sitting, you're altering your metabolism in ways that could hurt or even kill you.

    I've warned you about these risks before, and now two new studies confirm them.

    Men, if you sit for five hours a day or more, your risk of heart failure shoots up by more than a third, according to one of the studies. And if you have low overall levels of physical activity, your risk of heart failure skyrockets by 52 percent.

    And ladies, if you spend 11 hours or more sitting, your risk of death jumps across the board. The biggest increase is in your risk of death from heart disease, which climbs by 27 percent. But all that sitting can also boost your risk of death from cancer by 21 percent, cardiovascular disease by 13 percent and all causes by 12 percent, according to the second new study.

    Don't count on a little exercise to bail you out. Both studies find that if you're spending most of the day sitting, the physical activity won't matter. In fact, your risks are identical to those of someone who sits all day and doesn't get exercise.

    This doesn't mean exercise is useless. It means that exercise simply can't undo the damage of hours and hours of sitting -- so along with getting that regular exercise, be sure to get up and get moving throughout the day.

    One way to do that is to buy a timer and set it for 20 minutes (you can also use the timer feature on your phone). Every time it goes off, get up and get moving. You don't have to do pushups or jumping jacks, just a walk around the block or even pacing across the room will help break up the sitting.

    Yes, if you're at a desk job, getting that regular movement may look a little like you have a nervous habit. But given what's at stake here, maybe everyone should be a little nervous about sitting.

  2. Exercise beats drugs for heart & stroke patients

    Better than drugs for heart disease

    Survive a stroke or a heart attack, and you'll leave the hospital with enough pills to stock a CVS pharmacy.

    But there's something you can do that's every bit as good as those meds, maybe even better -- something far more effective at preventing a second heart attack and stroke.

    And your own doctor probably won't even tell you about it.

    It's having an exercise routine.

    Sure, he'll mention exercise -- but he won't emphasize it, and he'll tell you it's something to do in addition to taking your meds.

    What he won't tell you is that having some form of exercise routine can actually take the place of those meds.

    But it's true, and one new look at more than 300 studies that compared drugs to an exercise routine finds that exercise ties or wins nearly every time. When it comes to diabetes and heart disease, for example, exercise is as effective as drugs at extending life.

    And if you've suffered a stroke, getting into an exercise routine is actually better than meds.

    The only time drugs win is in heart failure patients, where diuretics are more effective than exercise -- but I think this is the exception, not because exercise doesn't work.

    It's because the heart failure itself can make it difficult to get the exercise you need.

    If you've suffered heart failure, work with your doctor on a safe routine program your heart can handle -- and if you do need a diuretic, ask about natural alternatives to prescription meds.

    And for all other conditions, there's a reason your doctor is loathe to mention exercise as an alternative to drugs: He assumes you're not going to follow through on your workout program.

    And, let's face facts here, in most cases it's a pretty safe assumption.

    But you can be the exception and get the movement you need for good health -- because it's a lot easier than you think. Just find something you love that keeps you moving. Do it three or four times a week, and there's your exercise routine -- no gym memberships, sports equipment or fancy workout clothes necessary.

    And as always, don't quit any meds without speaking to your doctor first.

  3. Benefits of music help the heart

    Want a better workout? Turn on some music -- because music can increase the benefits of exercise, according to new research.
  4. Exercise can slash risk factors for stroke

    One of the best ways to reduce your risk of stroke is with exercise -- and new research confirms that moderate movement can decrease your risk by a fifth.
  5. Exercise helps when dealing with stress

    Exercise can kick off a reaction in the brain that can help fight stress -- even later on, when you're not exercising, according to a new study.
  6. The right workout regimen

    Part of getting exercise is getting the right amount -- and sometimes, that means starting out light and working your way up.
  7. When it comes to exercise, less is more

    Everyone should make sure they get moving during the day -- but no one needs to turn into a treadmill-racing workout fiend to get the benefits of exercise.

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