Exercise: The miracle drug

Some people use (legal) drugs to improve their health. Some use (illegal) drugs to induce an artificial psychological high.

Wise people get even greater health and psychological benefits — at no cost — by exercising regularly.

Today’s Wall Street Journal has a wonderful article describing regular exercise’s many health benefits:

  1. 50% reduction in sick days taken
  2. Effective prevention/treatment for many cases of depression
  3. 40% reduction in Alzheimer’s risk
  4. 25% reduction in chance of getting breast cancer
  5. 50% reduction in recurrent breast cancer risk
  6. 60% reduction in colon cancer risk
  7. 27% reduction in stroke risk
  8. 40% reduction in high blood pressure incidence
  9. “Regular exercise has been shown to combat the ongoing damage done to cells, tissues and organs that underlies many chronic conditions… [and] reduce bad cholesterol, and cut the incidence of Type 2 diabetes”
  10. “Physical activity has an anti-aging effect at the cellular level, suggesting exercise could prevent aging of the cardiovascular system”
  11. “During exercise, two types of immune cells circulate more freely in the blood, neutralizing pathogens. Although the immune system returns to normal within three hours, the effect of the exercise is cumulative, adding up over time to reduce illness rates, he says. He compares the process to ‘a cleaner who comes in for an hour a day, so by the end of a month, your house looks much better.’”

You need not run a marathon to benefit. In fact, exercising too hard and too long can hurt — rather than help — your immune system. The sweet spot for maximal health benefit is moderate exercise of 30+ minutes at least four days a week.

So why are you sitting there reading this? Stand up and go for a walk or a jog! And then do it again four or five times a week, please.

Posted by James on Tuesday, January 05, 2010