You don’t need a scientific study to tell you that exercise is good for you. But if you want to know how good, read on. New research shows that regular physical activity can reduce the inflammation in the body that comes with aging, which could also help decrease your risk of developing related diseases and conditions—like heart disease, depression, decreased mental function, and loss of muscle mass.
Although other research has already shown that exercise has anti-inflammatory potential, this new study—published in the journal Circulation—followed people for 10 years to examine the long-term effects. They found that, in general, people who were more active at the start of the study, or exercised more by the end, had lower levels of inflammation, which is one way to help your body stay young.
Researchers measured the general level of fitness, looking to see whether people met the government’s guidelines of 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per week. While that might sound overwhelming, it's doable. Here are some tips to help you find the sweet spot of exercise.
- Meet the physical activity guidelines each week by breaking it into 20- to 30-minute sessions each day. Activities that count include running, walking, cycling, gardening, and housework.
- Avoid extreme exercise—anything more than 70% of your maximum effort for more than 30 minutes counts. Previous studies have shown that this level of intensity can actually increase inflammation.
- Try interval training for a short, but potent, but shorter, workout.
- Build up gradually. As you strengthen your body, what felt difficult last month will suddenly be a walk (or run) in the park.