Exercise does much more than make you feel good and/or relaxed; exercise changes your genes. More specifically, it changes the activity level of your genes, even reversing the stress-related damage to your genes. In addition, it reduces the activity level of your inherited genes that place you at greater risk for certain diseases; and it helps repair genes that have already been damaged by stress, thereby reducing your risk for additional diseases.

 

The exercises that change and repair your genes are not limited to just walking or running. Any exercise or habit that activates the mind-body connection is more than sufficient, especially when done on a regular basis. Yoga, qigong, tai chi, and even breathing exercises (like meditation): they can all reduce your “bad” gene activity and/or repair stress-related damage your genes. Equally importantly, they can reduce the inflammation in your body – the cause of many of your physical ailments.

 

Red DicePreviously, there was the belief that exercise had to be done on a daily basis. Kenneth Cooper recommended 10,000 steps per day. But new research debunks that old belief. Weekend warriors can improve their health – and reduce their risk or illness – just as much as daily exercisers. Current research shows that most individuals need 150 minutes of exercise per week.  If you have to squeeze in 120 minutes of those 150 minutes on a weekend, that is acceptable.

 

For those people who exercise daily, there is a 35% reduced risk of death. For those people who exercise 150 minutes per week, there is a 34% reduced risk of death. That is not a statistically significant difference. So, the message for everyone – whether they are in their 20s or 60s – is the same. To reduce your inflammation, repair your genes, quiet your inherited “bad” genes, and improve your health, you must incorporate some type of exercise into your weekly schedule.

 

Let me highlight one easy approach. There was a recent study of people who used their 30-minute lunch break just to eat versus those people who split their lunch break into 15 minutes of eating and 15 minutes of some type of exercise. The people who added exercise to their lunch break had better concentration, less fatigue, and better health – physical and emotional. That extra 15 minutes, slipped into your daily schedule, helped move people closer to the target of 150 minutes of exercise (or mind-body connection) per week.

 

There’s an additional exercise that enhances the above effects. It is strength training. When done several times per week, it further reduces inflammation; it further improves genetic repair; and it improves overall health, especially reducing your chances of cardiovascular problems and diabetes. The exercise does not have to be power lifting. People are now advised to try working out with resistance bands – cheap strips of elastic that can be looped around your arms or legs. Strength training will also add muscle, reduce body fat, and increase bone density.

 

There’s one last crucial point. These types of exercises are not just good for reducing inflammation, repairing genes, and improving physical and emotional health; they are important for improving blood flow to the brain – and your brain uses more oxygen than any organ in your body. Increased exercises (of any type listed above) activates the “brain-derived neurotropic factor”, which helps repair brain cells and their genes. Studies prove that these exercises reduce the chances of cognitive difficulties, including the risk of developing dementia.

 

So, your challenge is simple …

 

150 minutes a week of any exercise and you become healthier …

 

Make it more than a New Year’s Resolution; make it a habit …

 

Providing less inflammation and reduced risk of multiple diseases …

 

And (recently documented) better regulation and repair of your genes …

 

And reduced activity of those “bad” genes that put you at risk …

 

Now, isn’t it worth it to “move” a little?