Feeling less than inspired when it’s time to hustle over to the gym for your Yoga-lates class? We’re betting these three newly discovered exercise benefits will fire up your motivation.
1. Working out counterbalances salty slip-ups. If you’ve indulged in a giant, salt-studded soft pretzel, a big tub of movie popcorn or any other salt bomb, it’s time for some make-up movement. Regular exercise cuts your risk for raised blood pressure due to sodium by as much as 38 percent. Reason: You sweat out the salt.
2. It’s like bodybuilding for your heart. One of the side effects of more candles on your birthday cake is that your heart’s muscle mass can decrease by 50 percent (yes, half!) between your early 30s and your late 60s, leading to stiffness and weakness.
Good news: Aerobic and resistance exercises (you know, a brisk walk, a jazzercise class, pool laps, time on your bike and weight lifting) can prevent or reverse this loss. All it takes: 30 minutes a day of cardio, four to five days a week, and 10 minutes with weights three times a week. We do it every day!
3. It keeps your ticker rock-steady. Out-of-rhythm heartbeats cause 15 percent to 20 percent of all strokes that prove fatal. If you have these flutters, skips and syncopated palpitations (atrial fibrillation), that’s a huge incentive for you to try one of our favorite exercises: yoga. Why? Yoga encourages your ticker to maintain a steady tempo. Practicing the slow breathing and relaxing body movements three times a week can reduce your episodes of off-beat heart rhythms by a snazzy 44 percent. It can ease anxiety and depression, too.
We know, and you know, chronic pain isn’t all in your head. But you can use your noodle to turn down the volume on agonizing aches, whether you’ve got back pain, arthritis or other day-in, day-out discomfort. The tool: an easy relaxation technique called mindfulness meditation. Bonus: It can counteract one of pain’s sneakiest, most frustrating downsides: memory loss.
You may have heard that this type of meditation eases pain by soothing stress. But the more we learn about mindfulness, the better it gets. It also helps control your alpha rhythms, a type of brain wave that blocks out distracting information. Practicing mindfulness a few minutes daily boosts your ability to focus by tuning out distractions … like, yes, pain signals, and fears about pain — both mess with your memory. It improves your ability to recall important stuff (when you’re meeting your wife for dinner or where you put the dog’s leash).
Want to give it a whirl? Find a quiet place. Get comfortable. Close your eyes, and breathe in and out at a natural pace. Notice whether your breath feels warm or cool. When other thoughts, feelings and sensations crop up, acknowledge them, then gently refocus on your breathing. After about 10 minutes, open your eyes and re-enter the world slowly. You’ll go about your day feeling better.
Want more practice? Go to www.RealAge.com and search for “meditation” or “breathing techniques.” Or try “Stress Free Now” at www.360-5.com, a low-cost eight-week training that’s part of Dr. Mike’s Cleveland Clinic wellness program. No, he doesn’t get money from it; he’s a fan.
The YOU Docs, Mehmet Oz and Mike Roizen, are authors of “YOU: On a Diet.” Want more? See “The Dr. Oz Show” on TV. To submit questions, go to www.RealAge.com.