Benefits of exercise

I have always been into exercise. In 2002 I ran the San Diego marathon for Team in Training, raising over $3000 for cancer research. How ironic is it, then, that I got cancer a year later?

Well, as I learned later, excessive working out, like that for marathon training, is not really good for you. It's too stressful for your body if you're not replenishing with the right vitamins and antioxidants, which I was not doing back then.

On the other hand, not being physically active is definitely not good for you. Being active boosts all sorts of neurotransmitters and hormones in your body. It increases your lung capacity, which is a key factor in living a long life. It also can improve your mood--the "runner's high" is true.

The key is moderation.

Top athletes do not take their bodies for granted, which is why they have dietitians, trainers, doctors, and other specialists who take care of the details. For example, top athletes need different nutrition than ordinary people. They need more protein to replenish their protein stores, and antioxidants because they are creating more free radicals through all their training.

Unknowingly, all my intensive running and lifting weights was too much, and in addition to not eating right and having a stressful job, I was setting myself up for bad health.

If you had seen me, you would never have guessed that.

Looks can fool you. Being thin is not necessarily healthy.

Research on exercise

At the Appalachian State University, Professor David Nieman has been studying the benefits of exercise. His research found that people who add moderate activity every day ultimately have about 50% fewer sick days due to cold or flu symptoms compared to people who do not.

Weight-bearing activity has long been recognized to decrease osteoporosis and fractures in post-menopausal women.

And in depression, being physically active may decrease the severity and improve mood.

So all in all, adding in some moderate activity daily or at least several times a week is good for your immune system. Combined with some antioxidants added to your diet, and it will really help your overall health.

High intensity interval training is a time-saver but also even more effective than long hours spent in the gym.  There are tons of videos online for HIIT.

Walking briskly for 20 minutes is all you have to do. Who doesn't like to walk? Get your heart rate up--walk fast enough that you can still carry on a conversation but not be out of breath.

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