1. Walking and jogging prevents metabolic syndrome

    Stay one step ahead of disease

    You can outrun disease like metabolic syndrome, and you don't even have to move very fast. A quick walk or a light jog is all it takes to stay a step ahead of diabetes, heart disease, and more.

    I've written to you before about the dangers of being sedentary as well as the benefits of even light movement. Now, a new study confirms that you can get fit, stay healthy, avoid disease, and more -- and it starts with a brisk walk.

    Researchers tracked more than 10,000 Danish adults from age 21 all the way up to 98 for up to a decade, quizzing them about their levels of physical activity along the way.

    Not at all surprisingly, the ones who engaged in either fast walking or jogging for between two and four hours a week -- that's as little as 20 minutes a day -- were 50 percent less likely to develop metabolic syndrome when compared to those who walked slower, walked less, or didn't walk at all.

    Metabolic syndrome is often a precursor to prediabetes, diabetes, and heart disease -- so you definitely want to take every step you can to avoid it.

    Just make sure it's a lively step. A slow walk for even an hour day, for example, may be a great habit to have -- but it won't lower the risk of metabolic syndrome, according to the study in BMJ Open.

    Along with preventing metabolic syndrome, a daily jog or run can help awaken the disease-fighting T-cells of the immune system. And in another new study, it actually helped transform those cells in cancer survivors.

    After just 12 weeks of jogging, their T-cells went from a weakened state to a much more powerful one better able to fight the cancer and keep it from returning.

    Maybe that's why joggers and runners have a lower risk of some cancers in the first place.

    And that's still not all getting up and moving around can do for you -- because another new study finds that simply not sitting all day can slash your risk of kidney disease.

    That's one of the nation's top 10 killers, responsible for more than 50,000 deaths every year. But if you sit less, you can avoid it.

    For women, sitting for less than 3 hours a day can slash the risk of the disease by 30 percent when compared to sitting for 8 hours a day or more. For men, the risk is cut by around 20 percent, according to the study of 5,650 Brits.

    The important thing to remember here is that a little daily exercise isn't going to make up for sitting all day long -- and in the new study, even people who got that exercise faced the same increased risk of kidney disease if they were sitting the rest of the time.

    So go out for a run, get some exercise, and keep moving.

    But just as importantly, remember to get out of your seat and on your feet throughout the day as well.

  2. A little exercise can add years to your life

    A little bit of exercise can go a very long way

    I can't see you, but I know you're about to give me "that look."

    It's the look I get every day from patients when I tell them that exercise is almost as important as diet -- a look that says "UGH!" without actually saying it out loud.

    You'd think I was sentencing people to hard labor instead of the fun and rewarding pastimes that exercise can be -- but while it's true that finding time for exercise can be challenging, it doesn't have to be difficult or even painful.

    All it means is getting some movement each day -- and according to one new study, it doesn't have to be strenuous at all. In fact, it might be better if it's not.

    The study looked at the running and jogging habits of 1,116 men and 762 women, asking them how long and fast they ran each week.

    Those with regular jogging habits were happier, overall. But much more importantly, they lived longer -- about 6.2 years longer on average for men and 5.6 years longer for women.

    But what's most telling of all here is that it didn't take much to get that life-extending benefit, just a slow-to-average pace for an hour or two a week. That's just 10 or 15 minutes a day.

    Even a "power walk" through the local park could count as a slow jog.

    Those who did more serious -- and more strenuous -- running, on the other hand, didn't get a bigger benefit. In fact, they didn't live as long as the moderate-to-light jogging crowd.

    In other words, "all things in moderation," as the old saying goes, and another new study shows how older women in particular can benefit.

    This one looked at more than 700 women in their 70s, and found that those who got regular exercise such as an easy walk around the block had a 71 percent lower risk of death during the five-year study when compared to sedentary women.

    The same study, published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, also measured blood levels of carotenoids. Those are the healthy pigments found in many fruits and vegetables, and higher levels are a good sign.

    And those who had the highest levels -- those who ate the most fruit and veggies -- had a 46 percent lower risk of death than those with the lowest.

    If you want the biggest benefit of all (by far), don't pick one or the other, because the study also found that women who ate their fruits and veggies AND got that little bit of exercise were 800 percent more likely to live through the five-year study.

    The study didn't look at men, but you really can't go wrong with eating better and getting more movement whether you're a man or a woman -- and that's true no matter how old (or young) you are.

    But if all that's not enough of a reason to get moving, consider one other new study that found a benefit some people might find even more enticing than a longer, happier life: People who exercise earn an average of 9 percent more than people who don't.

    Good health isn't always the best motivator. But money? For some, that one works wonders.

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