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1. You’re Never Too Old.
In a recent study of 213 people, aged from 70 to 89, the better the participants’ adherence to a physical activity program, the greater their improvements in physical functioning.
At the beginning of the study, all of the male and female volunteers were sedentary and had a variety of physical health problems. Those who improved the most reported exercising 150 minutes or more per week. That’s just a little over 20 minutes a day!
The study was led by physiologist Roger Fielding at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (HNRCA) at Tufts University, Boston, Mass. The study was published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.
2. It Is Beneficial for Overweight Women.
A study of 430 women, average age 57, who were sedentary, overweight or obese fournd that women can improve their quality of life by exercising as little as 10 to 30 minutes a day.
The study divided the women into four groups.
one group exercising about 70 minutes a week;
another exercising about 135 minutes per week;
a third group exercising about 190 minutes a week; and,
a fourth group had no planned exercise.
“While the women who participated in the highest exercise group saw the greatest improvements in most quality of life scales, the women in the lowest exercise group also saw improvements,” said Angela Thompson, M.S.P.H., co-author of the study and research associate at Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, La.
“The public health message is tremendous, because it provides further support for the notion that even if someone cannot exercise an hour or more daily, getting out and exercising 10 to 30 minutes per day is beneficial, too.”
Thompson said. “Some of the women did lose weight over the course of the study but the self-reported improvement in quality of life was not dependent on weight loss.”
All participants in the exercise groups reported a statistically significant improvement in social functioning compared to those in the control group of women who didn’t exercise. However, women who participated in more exercise, from 135 to 150 minutes a week, also showed significant improvements in general health, vitality and mental health. That is, a little over 20 minutes a day of exercise improves general health, vitality and mental health as well. And even ten minutes a day will significantly improve your life.
3. And It Reduces the Risk of Heart Disease in Post-Menopausal Women.
Aerobic exercise significantly decreased the chemical imbalances that can lead to heart disease and stroke in postmenopausal women.
A study (conducted at Temple University’s College of Health Professions) followed 48 sedentary, postmenopausal women (21 on HRT and 27 not on HRT) through an exercise program consisting of three supervised sessions of aerobic exercise per week for 24 weeks. Participants were between 50 and 75 years of age and were postmenopausal for at least two years. Weight loss was limited to 5 percent or less of the women’s initial body weight in order to determine the independent effects of aerobic exercise independant of weight loss. The women also were stabilized for six weeks on the American Heart Association Step I diet to elminate the influence of a change in diet.
The HRT users and non-users both experienced an 11 to 18 percent drop in plasma thiobarbituric acid reactive substances, an indicator of oxidative stress. (Oxidative stress is an indicator of overall health.) There were also decreases in body mass index and total body fat, and a significant increase in VO2 max (maximal oxygen uptake or aerobic capacity) in both HRT users and non-users after the exercise intervention. (VO2 max is a measure of how deeply you are able to breathe. It measures what we in everyday language call aerobic fitness.)
“Regardless of your hormone replacement therapy status, regular physical activity is a good way to not only decrease postmenopausal symptoms, but also to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease” said study co-author Nicola Fenty-Stewart, Ph.D.
“Postmenopausal women can now use aerobic exercise training to lower chemical stress levels, thus reducing another risk factor for chronic disease,” said Michael D. Brown, Ph.D., a co-author and associate professor of kinesiology at Temple University’s College of Health Professions. The study is published in the Journal of Women and Aging.
To sum up: just 20-30 minutes of exercise each day has real health benefits. And it takes as little as ten minutes a day to start to experience benefits – even for the quite elderly or sedentary. You don’t need to be an athlete, just going for a brisk walk for a few minutes a day will do it.
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