Avoiding the Physical Cliff
The Keys to Living a Longer Life
You have enormous control over both your health and longevity. The first thing you need to do is quit considering yourself a victim and start accepting the reality that all those small choices you make every day add up.
Imagine you're walking toward a cliff. Every step you take brings you closer to the edge. Each individual step is trivial, but put them together and eventually, you run out of space. Once you tumble over the cliff, there's no going back.
This is why healthy choices matter. Exercise for 30 minutes and you're not going to suddenly be in shape, but it takes you a step back from the brink. Now substitute a healthy meal for breakfast, go to bed earlier to get a full nights sleep and drink some water instead of soda. Each of those actions move you a little bit further away from the cliff's edge.
The reverse is also true. Every time you avoid exercise, every day you spend splurging on fattening fast food, every minute you waste on harmful activities like smoking or drinking excessively, moves you closer to the point of no return.
Let's say you're 75 or older. How much impact would a few healthy choices have on your lifespan? Researchers at the Karolinska Institute decided to find out. They followed 1,800 subjects who were 75 years old or older for 18 years.
At the end of the study women who exercised, ate healthier foods and avoided things like smoking lived five years longer, and men lived six years longer. Subjects who were 85 or older and dealing with chronic diseases lived an incredible four years longer than their sedentary counterparts.
The single greatest predictor of longevity was exercise. People who exercised (such as walking, biking or resistance training) lived an average of two years longer than the people who didn't.
When you break it down by the workout, the results are startling. Researchers at Queen's University in Ontario found that every hour of vigorous activity will extend your life by 11 hours. Instead of looking at it as losing an hour to exercise, you're adding nearly half a day to your life. Exercise vigorously for three hours a week and you end up with an extra 9.7 years of healthy living.
Perhaps the thought of engaging in vigorous activity is just too much. Maybe you like to take things more slowly. That's OK, only 2.5 hours of moderate activity a week can extend your life by a full 6 years.
It's not just the physical changes that matter. I have a client that started with me two years ago who was in his mid-fifties. He had numerous aches, pains and "issues" that kept him feeling poorly. His father had passed away at 68 and my client figured he was on the same path.
Since he had never really worked out before, we started with just two 30-minute sessions a week to build strength and confidence. Over time that expanded to three 30-minute training sessions with me, and two intense 20-minute cardio workouts on his own each week.
As his strength grew, so did his confidence. Little problems he used to experience seemed to melt away. His attitude improved right along with his body. Today he's in better shape than he was 15 years ago and he sees life as something full of possibilities. Which leads me to one last way to avoid that cliff.
Upgrade your attitude. Researchers from Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Yeshiva University found that having an outgoing personality, as well as being relaxed and optimistic, reduced your risk of dying by 35 percent over five years than a comparable unhappy person.
Here's the cool part. Adding exercise to your weekly routine improves your body, which makes you feel better, which makes you happier, which results in a longer life. It's a virtuous cycle. Are you ready to back away from the edge?
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CAUTION: Check with your doctor before
beginning any diet or exercise program.