The Fountain of Youth

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1.       ANTI AGEING

Exercise does far more than just keep your body humming—it can actually turn back the clock. More and more research shows that working out can help your brain, bones, heart, and skin look and act younger. “The secret to anti-aging isn’t about creams and lotions, but about how to build a foundation from the inside-out with a strong body and a sound mind.

2.        REDUCE CELLULITE

The kind of good news: according to the fitness experts at the American Council of Exercise, you can reduce the appearance of cellulite. You need to decrease overall body fat by doing cardio. Dr. Len Kravits, who holds a PhD in exercise science, recommends 20 to 60 minutes of cardio, three to five times a week.

Cardio alone will not decrease the dimples, though. Flaccid muscle can increase the appearance of cellulite, so strength training is highly recommended. You should work the muscles in the areas where the dimpling is occurring two to three times a week. This means doing lunges in all directions and squats for the thighs and glutes.  Work your adductors to tone your inner thighs, and your abductors to tone the outer thigh. Just don’t skip your strength training.

3.        LENGTHEN YOUR LIFE

Get started exercising by increasing your physical activity every day. Walk more, get up more and just use your body. Then add in 30-minute periods that you commit to exercise. Do some strength, balance and stretching work. Find a time every day and commit to doing something that’s physical.

The benefits of regular exercise are well known, but what exactly are you getting in return for your efforts? A research a collaboration between the U.S.-based Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the National Cancer Institute has attempted to answer this question by quantifying how much longer people live depending on the levels of exercise they engage in.

The study analyzed data from more than 650,000 subjects and followed them for an average of 10 years, analyzing more than 82,000 deaths. From this data the researchers estimated lifespan gains for people over 40 who adopt different levels of physical activity and with varying body mass index (BMI) profiles (a calculation based on a person’s weight and height).

To sum it up, the more you do it, the longer you live. For example, 75 minutes of brisk walking per week equates to an extra 1.8 years of life expectancy as opposed to staying sedentary. Increase that to 150–299 minutes of brisk walking per week and the gain in life expectancy goes up to 3.4 years. Make it 450 minutes per week and the estimated life expectancy jumps by 4.5 years.

The study also found that people whose weight is above the recommended level still benefit from physical activity .

Men, women, normal weight and overweight people – all benefit from exercise in terms of longevity according to the study. However, it also indicated that the best results were obtained by those with normal weight who exercise. These people added 7.2 years to their life expectancy compared to people with a BMI of 35 or more (normal BMI ranges between 18.5 and 24.9) who undertook no exercise in their free time.

4.        LESS STRESS

Exercise increases your overall health and your sense of well-being, which puts more pep in your step every day. But exercise also has some direct stress-busting benefits.

It pumps up your endorphins. Physical activity helps to bump up the production of your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters, called endorphins. Although this function is often referred to as a runner’s high, a rousing game of tennis or a nature hike also can contribute to this same feeling.

It’s meditation in motion. After a fast-paced game of racquetball or several laps in the pool, you’ll often find that you’ve forgotten the day’s irritations and concentrated only on your body’s movements. As you begin to regularly shed your daily tensions through movement and physical activity, you may find that this focus on a single task, and the resulting energy and optimism, can help you remain calm and clear in everything that you do.

It improves your mood. Regular exercise can increase self-confidence and lower the symptoms associated with mild depression and anxiety. Exercise also can improve your sleep, which is often disrupted by stress, depression and anxiety. All this can ease your stress levels and give you a sense of command over your body and your life.

5.        IMPROVE SLEEP

Exercise and sleep have a more complicated relationship than many people realize. The majority of people claim that they don’t exercise on a regular basis because they are too tired. Hmmm. Could that have something to do with sleep habits, perhaps? Chances are good that it does.

If there were a competition to determine which lifestyle habit would win the title of “best intention never acted on,” exercise would probably win. The reason we intend to exercise is that we all know how good it is for us. And research finds new benefits every day. Regular exercise improves heart health and blood pressure, builds bone and muscle, helps combat stress and muscle tension, and can even improve mood.

Add one more benefit: sound sleep. Did you know that exercise can help you sleep sounder and longer and feel more awake during the day? It’s true. But the key is found in the type of exercise you choose and the time you participate in it during the day.

What time of the day do you think exercise would best help you sleep? Morning? Afternoon? Evening? Right before bed?

Exercising vigorously right before bed or within about three hours of your bedtime can actually make it harder to fall asleep. This surprises many people; it’s often thought that a good workout before bed helps you feel more tired. In actuality, vigorous exercise right before bed stimulates your heart, brain and muscles — the opposite of what you want at bedtime. It also raises your body temperature right before bed, which, you’ll soon discover, is not what you want.

Morning exercise can relieve stress and improve mood. These effects can indirectly improve sleep, no doubt. To get a more direct sleep-promoting benefit from morning exercise, however, you can couple it with exposure to outdoor light. Being exposed to natural light in the morning, whether you’re exercising or not, can improve your sleep at night by reinforcing your body’s sleep-wake cycle.

When it comes to having a direct effect on getting a good night’s sleep, it’s vigorous exercise in the late afternoon or early evening that appears most beneficial. That’s because it raises your body temperature above normal a few hours before bed, allowing it to start falling just as you’re getting ready for bed. This decrease in body temperature appears to be a trigger that helps ease you into sleep.

The type of vigorous workout we’re talking about is a cardiovascular workout. That means you engage in some activity in which you keep your heart rate up and your muscles pumping continuously for at least 20 minutes. Although strength-training, stretching, yoga, and other methods of exercise are beneficial, none match the sleep-enhancing benefits of cardiovascular exercise.

Try to schedule at least 20 minutes of vigorous exercise three or four times a week. Choose whatever activity you enjoy. Walk to and from work, or walk the dog. Jog, swim, bike, ski, jump rope, dance or play tennis — just make it part of your routine.

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The Edge Health and Adventure Club