Nutrition, Exercise, Weight Management and Health

Exercise is the cornerstone and provides the foundation for implementation of a treatment regimen for your ailments and deficiencies. This includes orthopedic abnormalities, functional weakness and dysfunction, hormone imbalances, sexual health dysfunctions, and aesthetic problems. Exercise provides a pathway for sustaining overall health, wellness, and vitality. As humans, we were born to move and thus activity must be part of the equation. Regular activity serves to improve blood flow, lung capacity, strength,  flexibility, aerobic fitness, anaerobic threshold, visceral fat levels, inflammation, and insulin resistance. The benefits include a decreased risk of heart disease, stroke, hypertension,  cancer, anxiety, depression, and memory loss. For example, a  Duke University study from 1999 assessed the effect of exercise on depression. The participants performed 45  minutes of aerobic exercise three times per week. The results from the study showed that the exercise group responded better to depression than those patients who were treated with Zoloft. Exercise is low cost, readily available, beneficial,  risk-averse, and mood enhancing. This intervention should be the first prescription that medical providers should order no matter the problem. There is essentially no downside with this form of treatment with tons of upside. Return on investment is high with minimal chance for loss.

Exercise is regenerative and restorative medicine.  Regular activity and exercise may extend the lifespan by at least five years. Exercise improves the number of mitochondria in the cells. Mitochondria are the powerhouses of the cell and provide energy via respiration. The higher the number of mitochondria, the better the health of the cell,  tissue, organ, and individual. Progressive weight training over six months (including heavy total body movements like the squat and deadlift) has been shown to reverse aging in patients via an increase in mitochondrial density as well as an increase in telomere length. Moderate exercise slows the aging of cells and protects telomeres. Telomeres are located at the end of chromosomes and progressively shorten with each cell division. These typically shorten with age and ultimately cause senescence or cell death. Senescent cells are problematic as they are pro-inflammatory and may affect other parts of the body and negatively affect the health of the individual. Accelerated telomere shortening is associated with chronic health problems including diabetes mellitus,  congestive heart failure, coronary artery disease, myocardial infarction, cancer, and osteoporosis. In the elderly, it helps to predict mortality. Smoking cessation, weight loss, exercise,  and positive dietary changes all improve telomere length,  health, and lifespan. All of these interventions will be used via a comprehensive approach to help enhance you and your health.

There are many forms of activity and exercise combinations that may be used in a comprehensive and all-encompassing program. The primary focus in my opinion, however, must revolve around strength training. Humans begin to lose muscle mass and strength starting in their 30 ’s to the tune of 1-2% per year. This tends to accelerate as we age to the point where significant sarcopenia (muscle wasting)  may occur. Resistance training halts muscle atrophy and increases skeletal muscle mass. This effect is further enhanced via supplementation with testosterone, DHEA, and growth hormone. Strength and resistance training also replace slow-twitch type I fibers with fast twitch type II fibers. Stimulation and recruitment of type II fibers via strength training are better than cardiovascular and aerobic fitness exercise for fat loss and weight control.

The benefits are thus endless and include improvements for muscle, bone,  cardiovascular, neurological, skin, metabolic, and hormonal health. This intervention and its multiple iterations have four major goals: limit impairment, guard against disability, limit falls and fractures, and maintain independence. Strength training checks all of the boxes on that list and many others.  In combination with hormone replacement, supplementation,  and regenerative orthopedic interventions; resistance training is a major component of a healthy lifestyle and provides a  significant boost in longevity and lifespan. Alternative exercises used as adjuncts to strength training include Pilates,  yoga, Zumba, walking, running, swimming, cycling, tennis golf, etc. The take-home point is that movement and activity must become an integral part of the health equation, and failure to incorporate them into your regimen sets you up for failure.

A study from Penn State University looked at the effect of resistance training on the health of older adults. The study group exercised via strength and resistance training two times per week. The results were striking for the exercise group as compared to the control group. They had 46%  lower odds of all-cause death and 41% lower odds of cardiac death. They also had 19% lower odds of dying from cancer.  Thus, exercise is medicine and a form of anti-aging and longevity management.   Heat stress including sauna training has also been shown to be a treatment for maintaining muscle mass via the release of heat shock proteins and growth hormone. The patient must remain in the environment for at least 15-30  minutes to realize the positive response. In rat studies, heat increased muscle regrowth by about 30%. The addition of heat as a treatment option has been shown to increase longevity and may be used as an adjunctive tool for maintenance and growth of muscle. When heat treatment was combined with exercise like yoga, push-ups, or body weight squats in the sauna environment, the muscle growth was further accentuated. The benefits of sweating may also be profound from a health standpoint in removing toxins including heavy metals from the body such as arsenic,  cadmium, lead, and mercury. This activity is an easy and low-cost detoxification process which serves to optimize further and improve health.

The goal of exercise, therefore, is to maximize function via gains in strength, muscle mass, mitochondrial density,  telomere length, and hormonal stimulation. It decreases visceral fat and ultimately improves insulin resistance. This serves to limit insulin surges which typically place the body in a catabolic (breakdown) state. This intervention also assists in decreasing inflammatory processes in the body which further improves overall health and wellness. Diffuse inflammation is a precursor for chronic disease and substandard health, and simple interventions like exercise are integral in combating the deleterious effects of this condition.  Exercise also serves to improve and elevate mood, increase blood flow and cardiac output, decrease vascular resistance and blood pressure, and maximize lung function. Sexual function also improves via improvements in strength,  flexibility, and aerobic stamina. In my opinion, there are only advantages and positive outcomes with the addition of exercise and performance training. This energy pervades this book and ties in nicely with the ultimate goal of improving your health. I encourage you to embrace it and find your niche activity/activities thus allowing you to reach your maximum potential.

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