Thanks to my beautiful student, Shirley, for a great article of the longevity factor. As if being healthy, fit, lean and having greater brain power aren’t enough, exercise can actually boost our longevity as well. For those of us that partake regularly, this really comes as no surprise, but it’s always great to see the science and the stats to prove it!
The latest evidence comes from a recent study that revealed the white blood cells of endurance athletes had longer telomeres (the tiny, protective units of DNA that cap the end of chromosomes – like plastic shoestring or sneaker lace tips) that usually grow shorter as we age. The results of the study may explain how regular exercise can protect us against the 2 big killers: heart disease and cancer. These longer telomeres and “younger” white blood cells may be able to more efficiently clear out both abnormal cells that may become cancer and the dreaded plaques that are implicated in heart disease.
Since both inflammation and immunity are believed to play critical roles in the development of cancer, exercise, once again is the magic bullet! It seems to keep inflammations down and immune systems up! Additionally, specific cancers are affected by exercise. As an example, colon cancer is less likely probably because exercise positively impacts the digestive system by keeping things moving. The decrease in time that food spends in the system lessens the contact between it and carginogens contained in our foods. In the case of breast cancer, we know that inflammation and estrogen exposure both play a role. According to one study done in Canada, exercise cuts the amount of estrogen circulating in the system and may also cause changes in monthly cycles that actually reduce exposure to this hormone.
To me, personally, the most exciting part of the article is the evidence that, at least in animal studies, exercise helps generate new neurons that may help with brain power. Vigorous activity also may create NEW blood vessels in the brain (YES!) that help forge the connection between the nerves and the brain. Arthur Kramer, a neurologist at the University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign says, that exercise not only slows negative changes to the brain but also gives us some cognitive “reserves” so that even if the plaques found in Alzheimer’s disease do appear, they won’t have the same impact that they would on a sedentary individual.
This article, from the U.S. News & World Report just reconfirms what I have believed in for years. Exercise IS the prescription for great physical, mental and spiritual health. If you all could see Shirley (who shared this article with me) and her gorgeous husband, Fred, you would know that seeing is believing. Along with so many of my other students in their 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s, that have made exercise a way of life for many years, they are LIVING PROOF. They motivate me just by being! Thank you.
I sat down to blog 2 hours ago. Since, I have taken the dog out twice, fed him and Kyle, caught up with a friend via the phone and texted back and forth with a client. That said, please forgive me if this read was all over the place!
Now, I am off to to make my telomeres longer!!! Tonight’s vegan feast theme is All you can eat pasta fagioli, salad and breadsticks…with homemade pizza appetizers. Dinner is at 8. Anyone want to come? There is always room for one more!