Four Simple Ways to Get Healthier Without Going to Extremes
Maximize health benefits with the minimum amount of physical activity.
In the landscape of today’s exercise culture, there are two extremes. On one side are the folks who won’t, don’t, or can’t do any physical activity beyond the simple tasks of living. We all know that is a problem, because we have been barraged by headlines that say a lack of exercise is linked to everything from obesity and heart disease to diabetes and memory problems. Simply put, if you don’t move around, you aren’t going to be around.
The other side is one that has really taken over in the last few years: the extreme exercisers. Those are the ones who run mud races and get thrills through activities that many folks would think are way too advanced for the general population. While those people are indeed active, I do fear one thing: that the extreme side sends a message to the slothy side that exercise has to be that way to get the optimal dose for your health. As in, if you cannot make it across butter-greased monkey bars with zombies chasing after you, then heck, just sit back and have another couple of doughnuts.
The least exercise for the most benefits
What really happens with physical activity is you change the way your genes function. Much of your DNA that is not your genetic material consists of switches that govern whether your genes are “on” (producing proteins) or not. This is such a breakthrough because the future of personalized medicine is not just knowing which genes you have but also turning on the ones that you want on and turning off the ones that you want off. Right now we know you can turn on some key healthful genes and turn off some disease-promoting genes with physical activity.
More-than-optimal amounts of exercise will not get you healthier; fitter, maybe, but not healthier. The truth is that for optimal health—for weight control, for longevity, for preventing cancer and arterial diseases, for keeping up your sex drive, for maintaining brain health—you do not need extremes, but you do need four types of physical activity.
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