This is a wake-up call for all Americans. Current research, produced by the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition, reveals that less than 5% of the U.S. adult population participate in 30 minutes of physical activity per day. And, for children, it’s far worse thanks to wireless technology and all these computer gadgets – which have kids spending around 7 hours per day on computer screens, cell phones and T.V.’s.
To stop disease – we’ve got to get physical. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 4 in 5 adults lead sedentary or minimally active lifestyles that fall short of the recommended 2.5 hours of moderate aerobic exercise each week. Unfortunately, a lack of exercise not only affects physical fitness and weight, but it may also affect a person’s longevity and risk of chronic, degenerative diseases like cancer.
Exercise positively influences the expression of our DNA
Researchers have long been trying to understand the connections between exercise and disease risk. A new study from Sweden’s Karolinska Institutet, however, is painting a bigger picture, revealing that the secret may be in human DNA – specifically the molecules located inside of genes known as epigenetics.
The study reveals that regular exercise has a direct and positive influence on more than 4,000 genes, and inactivity has a negative effect on those same genes. This research highlights the significance of ‘epigenetic methylation’ – which is really quite interesting.
Epigenetics help modulate processes within the body. While the genes in a DNA sequence are fixed, the epigenetic molecules within them are capable of undergoing temporary changes via a process known as methylation. During methylation, additional molecules may be added to an existing group or some may be taken away.
Science reveals how exercise can dramatically improve our health
Researchers at the Karolinska Institutet studied epigenetic methylation in healthy adults before and after completing a three-month endurance training program. They followed 23 healthy young adults who were asked to participate in 45 minutes of one-legged cycling four times per week.
The researchers used the inactive leg as a control, and took leg muscle biopsies to evaluate epigenetic methylation that occurred between the start and end of the study. Of the 20,000 genes measured for methylation, 4,000 genes were directly and positively affected by exercise.
The correlation between exercise and epigenetic changes were closely linked to methylation. Many of the same genes that experienced increased methylation during the study were responsible for the metabolism of carbohydrates and skeletal muscle adaptation. On the other hand, the genes that had an opposite reaction – that is, they had decreasing methylation – were closely linked to biological inflammation.
Make exercise part of your New Year’s resolutions
Ultimately, research is proving what we already know: Exercise is good for you. It increases metabolic function, improves muscle health, and even helps prevent chronic disease. Specifically, endurance training has a direct effect on the overall health of the body, including the degree of inflammation within it. But, remember, exercise is NOT supposed to be painful to reap the rewards. Just get out and enjoy being active.
If one of the benefits of exercising is living a longer (healthier) life, then everyone should be doing it. Too many people suffer from poor circulation, chronic inflammation and fatigue. What’s the solution? Eat a healthier diet – loaded with fresh (organic) plant foods – and exercise, as often as possible. I’ll leave you with some inspirational quotes:
“The reason I exercise is for the quality of life I enjoy.” – Kenneth H. Cooper, MD, MPH – a leading pioneer in preventive medicine
”Exercise to stimulate, not to annihilate. The world wasn’t formed in a day, and neither were we. Set small goals and build upon them.” – Lee Haney – 8-time Mr. Olympia
“If we could give every individual the right amount of nourishment and exercise, not too little and not too much, we would have found the safest way to health.” – Hippocrates – the ‘Father of Medicine’