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Sun, Dec. 08

Column: 100 reasons a little exercise goes a long way

I have a good friend, Susan Popko, who dropped me off a paper written by James Peterson, Ph.D., FACSM, Cedrie Bryant, Ph.D., FACSM, and Jerry Napp, M.S., who have come up with 100 reasons to exercise. I enjoyed reading it so much that I thought you would too. 

Sometimes we get so carried away by all the things that take up our life, doing something for ourselves that makes us feel better and is really good for our health gets left out; that might be a short, brisk walk, riding our bike, a game of ping pong, a swim at the local pool or maybe an hour of tennis with friends.

Sometimes I'll get a call from a person who due to work, now retired or with more time, say to me, "Gosh, I used to love playing tennis, but it's been 20 years, how can I get back at it?" I tell them to go at it easy, so their muscles get used to what is going to take place, and to not expect great results right off the bat - laugh and enjoy the process. It's interesting to see them go from being unsure of themselves, to within a month to six weeks really coming around. Their coordination, confidence,  conditioning, smile, and in general whole demeanor, has a new step and light to it, not to mention all the new friends they've met.

Read on and you'll see what these three scholarly gentlemen had to say.

1.  Reduces your risk of getting heart disease. 2. Increases your level of muscle strength. 3. Improves the functioning of your immune system. 4. Enhances sexual desire, performance, and satisfaction. 5. Helps you to more effectively manage stress. 6. Helps you lose weight - especially fat weight. 7. Improves the likelihood of survival from a myocardial infarction (heart attack). 8. Can help relieve the pain of tension headaches - perhaps the most common type of headache. 9. Improves your body's ability to use fat for energy during physical activity. 10. Increases the density and breaking strength of bones. 

11. Helps to preserve lean body tissue. 12. Reduces the risk of developing hypertension (high blood pressure.) 13. Increases the density and breaking strength of ligaments and tendons. 14. Improves coronary (heart) circulation. 15. Increases circulating levels of HDL (good) cholesterol. 16. Assists in efforts to stop smoking. 17. Reduces your risk of developing Type 2 (non-insulin-dependent) diabetes. 18. Can help improve short-term memory in older individuals. 19. Help to maintain weight loss - unlike dieting alone. 20. Helps relieve many of the common discomforts of pregnancy (backache, heartburn, constipation, etc.).

21. Reduces your anxiety level. 22. Helps control blood pressure in people with hypertension. 23. Reduces the viscosity of your blood. 24. Reduces he vulnerability to various cardiac dysrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms). 25. Increases you maximum oxygen uptake (V02max - perhaps the best measure of your physical working capacity). 26. Helps to overcome jet lag. 27. Slows the rate of joint degeneration in people with osteoarthritis. 28. Lowers your resting heart rate. 29. Helps to boast creativity. 30. Reduces circulating levels of triglycerides.

31. Helps the body resist upper respiratory tract infections. 32. Increases your anaerobic threshold, allowing you to work or exercise longer at a higher level, before a significant amount of lactic acid builds up. 33. Reduces medical and healthcare expenses. 34. Improves ability to recover from physical exertion. 35. Helps speed recovery from chemotherapy treatments. 36. Increases ability to supply blood to the skin for cooling. 37. Increases the thickness of the cartilage of your joints. 38. Gives you more energy to meet the demands of daily life, and provides you with a reserve to meet the demands of unexpected emergencies. 39. Increases your level of muscle endurance. 40. Helps you sleep easier and better.

41. Improves posture. 42. Improves athletic performance. 43. Helps you maintain your resting metabolic rate. 44. Reduces the risk of developing colon cancer. 45. Increases your tissues' responsiveness to the actions of insulin (i.e. improves tissue sensitivity for insulin) helping to better control blood sugar, particularly if you are a Type 2 diabetic. 46. Helps to relieve constipation. 47. Expands blood plasma volume. 48. Reduces the risk of developing prostate cancer. 49. Helps to combat substance abuse. 50. Helps to alleviate depression.

51. Increase your ability to adapt to cold environments. 52. Helps you maintain proper muscle balance. 53. Reduces the rate of severity of medical complication associated with hypertension. 54. Helps to alleviate certain menstrual symptoms. 55. Lowers your heart rate response to submaximal physical exertion. 56. Helps to alleviate low-back pain. 57. Helps to reduce the amount of insulin required to control blood sugar levels in Type 1 diabetics.  58.  Improves mental alertness. 59. Improves respiratory muscle strength and muscle endurance - particularly important for asthmatics. 60. Reduces your risk of having a stroke.

61. Helps you burn excessive calories. 62. Increases your cardiac reserve. 63. Improves your physical appearance. 64. Offsets some of the negative side-effects of certain antihypertensive drugs. 65. Increases your stroke volume. 66. Improves your self-esteem. 67. Reduces your susceptibility for coronary thrombosis (a clot in an artery that supplies the heart with blood). 68. Helps you to relax. 69. Reduces the risk of developing breast cancer. 70. Improves a mental cognition (short-term effect only).  

71. Maintains or improves joint flexibility. 72. Improves your glucose tolerance. 73. Reduces workdays missed due to illness. 74. Protects against "creeping obesity." 75. Enhances your muscles' abilities to extract oxygen from your blood. 76. Increases your productivity at work. 77. Reduces your likelihood of developing low-back problems. 78. Improves your balance and coordination. 79. Allows you to consume greater quantities of food and still maintain caloric balance. 80. Provides protection against injury.

81. Decreases the need for antihypertensive medication, if indeed you are. 82. Improves your decision-making abilities. 83. Helps reduce the immediate symptoms of menopause, and decrease the long-term risks of cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and obesity. 84. Helps to relieve and prevent "migraine headache attacks." 85. Reduces the risk of endometriosis. 86. Helps to retard bone loss as you age. 87. Helps decrease your appetite. 88. Improves pain tolerance and mood if you suffer from osteoarthritis. 89. Helps prevent and relieve the stresses that cause carpal tunnel syndrome. 90. Makes your heat a more efficient pump.

91. Helps to decrease left ventricular hypertrophy in people with hypertension. 92. Improves your mood. 93. Helps increase your overall health awareness. 94. Reduces the risk of gastrointestinal bleeding. 95. Helps you to maintain an independent lifestyle. 96. Reduces the level of obesity - a significant health-risk factor. 97. Increase the diffusion capacity of the lungs, enhancing the exchange of oxygen from your lungs to your blood. 98. Improves your overall quality of life. 100. Lifelong regular exercise may be protective against the development of Alzheimer's disease.

Chris Howard is a local USPTA tennis professional with over 40 years in the racquet and fitness industry.  He can be reached at 928-642-6775 or 

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