Inspired by the recent Food Revolution Summit, I am reading Dr. Dean Ornish’s book, The Spectrum. The bottom line of Dr. Ornish’s thinking: If you want to live a long, healthy life, pay attention to what you eat. Exercise, but not to excess. And practice stress reduction techniques like meditation or yoga.
There’s no big news there, but what was news to me is how exercise helps you beyond being in better shape and maybe losing a little weight.
According to Dr. Ornish’s studies, regular exercise:
- Improves your brain function and actually helps add brain neurons in the hippocampus part of your brain – the area that helps with focus, connection, and memory.
- Improves your cardio health, joints, and overall strength, flexibility, and stamina. And as blood is pumped more efficiently through your body, you get more oxygen to your cells and have less of a chance of developing blood clots and having a stroke.
- Helps control your weight and raises your metabolic rate so you burn more calories – even when resting.
- Helps increase your bone density so you have less risk of osteoporosis and fractures.
- Makes you feel happier, elevates your mood, and lessens the risk of depression as your self-esteem and sense of well-being rise.
- Gives you more energy for work or for play.
- Improves your sleep.
- Lowers your blood pressure.
- Lowers your total cholesterol while increasing the “good” cholesterol and lowering the “bad” cholesterol.
The cool thing is we aren’t talking about a crazy big exercise routine. We’re talking about doing fun things – like dancing, yoga, tennis, karate, gardening, or walking. Dr. Orish writes that walking just 3 hours a week (about a half-hour a day – and you can do this in 15-minute increments) brings about all the improvements you see above.
Doesn’t that make you want to go take a walk around the block or around your building? To take part of your lunch break to get outside and enjoy a nice walk?
Here are five bits of advice from Dr. Ornish to get started.
- Choose activities that you enjoy. If you start exercising and find you hate it, try something new that brings you joy and that you’ll stick with.
- Listen to your body. If you start something new and it hurts, stop. Don’t push till you’re in pain. If you haven’t been exercising, you should be a little sore the next day, but not a lot sore. Start off easy.
- Be consistent. Plan in a time every day or every other day. Make this a habit!
- Invest in a good pair of shoes. Whatever exercise you choose, take care of your feet!
- Be flexible. If you miss a day, start again the next day. And keep a pair of shoes ready to take advantage of even the smallest opportunity to take a walk.
I’m headed outside to garden today. How about you?
I ran a new route yesterday. Here are the two “lights” my street is named after.