The (Better) Life List

All of us, myself included, are looking for motivations to participate in regular exercise. I think you will find the following list helpful. Let me know if you have any other ideas to add to this list.

1.Exercise strengthens the cardiovascular system. It releases growth factors, which through a chain reaction, aid in the production of new blood vessels. Another byproduct of exercise widens the pathways where blood flows and in turn boosts blood volume. Increased blood flow reduces hardening of the arteries.
2.Exercise regulates your fuel. It increases regulatory factors that help maintain proper insulin and glucose levels. This is vital since insulin levels drop as we age making it harder for our cells to uptake glucose and use it as energy. When glucose isn’t used for fuel, and is left to its own devices, it creates waste. This waste, such as free radicals, eventually puts the body at risk of stroke and more likely to develop Alzheimer’s.
3.Exercise reduces obesity. It burns calories and reduces appetite. High body fat is harmful to the cardiovascular, metabolic, and nervous systems. Being overweight doubles your chance of developing dementia and obesity is frequently paired with high blood pressure and cholesterol.
4.Exercise elevates your stress threshold. It makes proteins that combat free radicals and ex¬citatory neurotransmitters, which stress your cells and trigger the cell death process and aging. Exercise also combats cortisol, a product of the stress response. By lowering your stress thresh¬old, you are also lowering your risk of depression and dementia.
5.Exercise boosts the immune system. It brings the immune system back into equilibrium and fights the effects of stress and age. Even moderate activity increases antibody and lymphocyte levels, which make the body more alert to bodily threats and better able to deal with them.
6.Exercise fortifies your bones. Regular weight training, or any sport that requires you to jump or run, helps counteract natural bone loss. You need a strong skeletal system to continue to stay active as you age. Remember, it is never too late to reverse or prevent bone loss.
7.Exercise boosts motivation and lifts your mood. It strengthens connections between dopa¬mine neurons, which is key to the brain’s motivation system. This will help guard against the trap of becoming sedentary and solitary. It is important to stay mobile as you age. Mobility helps you maintain social connections important to sustaining mood and motivation.
8.Exercise fosters neuroplasticity. It builds a stronger, more flexible brain. Exercise elevates the supply of growth factors and neurotrophic factors in the brain. This leads to better connections, more synapses, and more new stem cells ready to become neurons in the hippocampus. All of these effects improve your brain’s ability to: learn, remember, execute higher thought processes, adapt, and manage your emotions.

Bottom Line: Good health is a choice and a decision. It begins with the right mental attitude, regular exercise and seeing your physician on a regular basis

This blog was inspired by and based on “Spark” by John J. Ratey, MD.

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