A LITTLE EXERCISE COULD MEAN A LIFETIME OF HEALTH!
The right kind of exercise can add years to your life and dollars to your wallet!
Do you always feel tired? Get winded climbing a short flight of stairs? Have trouble sleeping nights? Is your waistline a worry? If you answer yes to any of these questions, a basic program of simple, inexpensive exercise would almost certainly be of benefit to you. You say you can't afford the time to exercise? The truth is, unless you have a special health problem, you can't afford not to exercise! Scientific research and experience prove that the human body needs exercise to maintain good health. No one can totally neglect it without paying a penalty. Millions suffer unnecessary ills and die prematurely because they are living inactive or sedentary lives for which their bodies were not designed. Medical and health specialists around the world emphasize the importance of physical fitness, particularly in our modern world where riding and sitting are a way of life. Dr. Paul Dudley White. noted Boston heart specialist who has helped presidents and other leading Americans achieve better health and productivity through exercise, has stated: "Physical fitness is vital for the optimal function of the brain, for retardation of the onset of serious arteriosclerosis, which is beginning to appear in early adult lives, and for longevity, and a useful and healthy life for our older citizens." Dr. Theodore G. Klumpp of New York maintains that "remaining active is the key to staying alive. Exercise opposes the effects of stroke or heart attack. Blood clots form when blood flow is sluggish rather than when it is vigorous. Yet many people won't exercise for fear it will provoke a heart attack." Dr. Ian Adams, a leading British medical expert, adds that "middle-aged adults need regular exercise for the maintenance of good posture and joint mobility, for the preservation of strength and stimulation of the circulators' system. It is a basic biological principle that stimulation maintains and disuse accelerates the deterioration of mind and body." And finally, one noted heart specialist warns: "The average executive drives his car to work, sits at his desk all day, then watches TV at night. The heart is a muscle and when you don't exercise it, it's just like putting your arm in a cast. It deteriorates. Through exercise you can build it up." As a physical fitness trainer, I always emphasize the simple adage "What you don't use, you will lose!"
Mind and Body Inseparable
I have worked with all age groups, with overweight as well as handicapped people. I have witnessed great transformations, not only physical, but mental and emotional, as a result of a sound program of physical fitness tailored to individual needs. Again and again these people have demonstrated that the mind and the body are inseparable. Physical stagnation results in mental and psychological stagnation, and vice versa. And while this applies specifically to the infirm and those well past middle age, it is a universal principle. I have seen ego-battered business executives restored to greater productivity and self-assurance as the result of a good exercise program. By being able to work more and produce more, these men were able to earn more — and they became much more valuable to their employers. I've seen overweight women and girls gain new self-confidence and poise, develop a more positive self-image and change their personalities for the better because they became more physically fit. I've seen handicapped people, even those in wheelchairs, find that they can achieve much greater use of their bodies than they ever imagined possible. All these people found that following the basic rules of good health, plus carrying out a tailored program of exercise greatly improved the quality of their lives. I have also noticed that the leaders in nearly every field are the ones who engage in a regular exercise program to protect their health, skills and productivity. Studies have shown that exercise can even help students improve their grades.
How Else Could You Get All These Results?
Aware that modern sedentary lifestyles result in deteriorating physical health, millions are now beginning to reap the benefits of a regular exercise program: greater strength and endurance, reduced tensions, increased self-reliance and the added enjoyment of a more active life. Approximately fifty percent of American adults are now participating in supplementary forms of exercise such as walking, bowling, bicycling, golf and swimming. What about you? Here are some of the results you can gain from a good physical fitness program: • You'll develop strength and endurance which will help you perform daily tasks with greater ease and economy of movement. • Good muscle tone and posture will help protect you from back problems. • Your appetite and weight will be more controllable. When you are inactive, the appetite, normally a marvelously precise guide of how much you should eat, no longer functions accurately. In other words, you will eat more calories than you actually expend. The result is creeping overweight. Some overweight is not the result of eating too much, but of exercising too little. • Your blood and lymph system will function better and won't get clogged up easily. Coronary arteries will become wider; blood will flow easier and faster. Many doctors believe proper exercise reduces cholesterol levels in the blood. And active people have fewer heart attacks and better recovery rates than inactive persons. • The efficiency of your heart and lungs will rise sharply. The total effect is that all your body's systems will be strengthened, and you will feel much better overall. • Enjoyable exercise provides relief from tension and serves as a safe and natural tranquilizer. And sleep will come easier.
Health and exercise specialists will differ in what they feel is the minimum amount of exercise necessary for the best results. Obviously, a regular exercise program in any reasonable amount is better than none at all. I personally feel that around 45 minutes a day is the most beneficial — especially if your daily routine doesn't include much physical activity. However, I realize the circumstances of many do not permit spending this much time in exercise. But don't let this discourage you. A vigorous program three, four or five times a week for lesser periods of time can also bring many beneficial results. Exercise does not need to be boring. Variety is the key once you've gotten into basic shape. Perhaps you might encourage your mate and children to join you. Choosing a definite time for exercise and sticking with it can also be helpful. There are many forms of exercise to choose from: walking, bicycling, swimming, jogging, calisthenics, tennis, skating (roller and ice), basketball, handball, and racquetball to name a few. Each type of exercise provides benefits others may not. The publications referred to in the suggested reading list in the box (above right) offer many time-tested suggestions on how to develop the right program for yourself, depending on your age, health and present fitness, plus ways to avoid harmful pitfalls. Some with special health problems may need trained help to develop a fitness program. Exercise, however, doesn't normally require special instructors or expensive health clubs with complicated equipment plush carpets, mirrors, etc. It can be done in your own home or backyard. The Creator designed the human body to function best with a moderate amount of vigorous physical activity. Increased vigor, health and happiness can be yours if you faithfully carry out a balanced program of exercise.
Where Life-style Produces Longer Life
From 1970 to 1975, the Foundation for Optimal Health and Longevity engaged in research on exercise, diet and longevity to determine why some individuals and population groups were able to maintain vigor of mind and body with advancing age, whereas the majority follow the course of progressive deterioration. Population groups in Ecuador, Hunza and the Caucasus were chosen because they had the reputation of being exceptionally long-lived. In Hunzaland and the Caucasus, the ages of those studied could not be precisely documented. Nonetheless, it was clear that there were a large number of older individuals (over 75) who were exceptionally vigorous in mind and body. In Vileabamba, Ecuador, determination of exact age was considerably easier because of the existence of baptismal records. Here 46 men and women over the age of 75 were found in a village with a population of 819. All of them were unusually vigorous, both mentally and physically. The long-lived people in the three population groups cited had several characteristics in common: • They engaged in many hours of vigorous physical exertion daily, primarily farming using hand tools and much up — and downhill walking in the course of their work. In addition, they frequently carried heavy objects for relatively long distances. • Their diet was in general much lower in calories, animal (saturated) fats, cholesterol and salt than the usual American diet. • They were generally slender, well-muscled and had a vigorous youthful appearance. • Blood cholesterol and triglycerides were much lower than those of the average American of similar age group. • High blood pressure and cardiovascular diseases were virtually absent. In San Diego, California, other studies were done on two groups of individuals: 1) Highly conditioned men between the ages of 40 and 75. These were' long-distance runners who were training and competing regularly the year round at distances of one to 26 miles. 2) A variety of unconditioned, but normal individuals and groups: schoolgirls and boys aged 9-10; individual men and women aged 17-69; and firemen and policemen aged 30-50. These groups were tested before and after six to twelve months of special exercise and dietary programs. Summary and conclusion: Daily prolonged physical activity as part of an individual's life-style is a major factor in maintenance of physical and mental vigor many years beyond the usual retirement age (65 or 70) in the long-lived population groups studied. The study convincingly shows that physical activity will increase the life span rather dramatically.
Source: Testimony submitted by Harold Elrick, M.D., to the Senate Subcommittee on Aging, April 23, 1975.
Before You Exercise, Some Precautions
Almost all persons, whatever their age, can benefit from some form of exercise. But authorities urge these precautions to lessen risks of overexertion or complications that can result from existing or unknown health problems: • Discuss your plans with a doctor, get a checkup and follow his advice in carrying out your exercise program. • Take a stress test, offered by many doctors and qualified physiologists, to determine how much exercise is safe for you. • Start the exercise program gradually, increasing the vigor and duration of the activity only as your fitness improves. • Begin exercising with a warm-up period and end with a gradual cooling-off period, giving the heart a chance to adjust to the change in pace. • Exercise daily or at least several times a week. Exercising, infrequently does little to maintain fitness and, in fact, can cause more harm than good by straining not only poorly conditioned muscles but other vital body organs as well.
The New Aerobics, Kenneth H. Cooper, M.D., M.P.H. (includes age — and fitness — adjusted exercise charts and programs), Bantam Books. From the Superintendent of Documents, Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, you can order: The Fitness Challenge in the Later Years (an exercise program for older Americans), 75c. Order #S/N 017-062-00009-3. Adult Physical Fitness (progressive, five-level programs for men and women), 70c. Order #S/N 040-000-00026-7. An Introduction to Physical Fitness (includes self-testing activities, graded exercises, and a jogging and weight-control program), 60c. Order #S/N 017-000-00 122-1.
Federally Sponsored Workshops for Communities
Under a grant from the Administration on Aging and in cooperation with the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, the National Association for Human Development offers a national program of health information and fitness activities called "Active People Over 60." Trained personnel conduct workshops in their respective states and regions to increase community knowledge of the causes of many of the diseases associated with aging and what can be done to combat them, including exercise, diet and nutrition. Further information on establishing such a workshop in your area, as well as a list of related booklets and films, can be obtained by writing: National Association for Human Development, 1750 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, D.C. 20006.