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Get moving for a happier, healthier life


Last updated 6/26/2008 at Noon

Nature built us to move.

Before cars took over, people moved from place to place using leg or horse power. Sometimes there was some donkey power and sometimes bicycle power, but usually leg power was behind the locomotion.

Children walked to school no matter the distance and men walked to work if they lived in a city. Women walked as they carried out household duties and visited friends.

Research is constantly coming up with new data that illustrates Mother Nature knows what she is doing: consistent exercise leads to a longer life, lower blood pressure, less heart disease, stronger bones, lower incidence of diabetes, lower body fat, fewer negative effects of stress on your heart and lungs and a lessening of depression and anxiety.

If an hour of bumper-to-bumper traffic makes you want to pull your hair out, a brisk 30-minute walk in the evening can help you in several ways: as you move, your brain will release feel-good chemicals into your system and your mood will elevate, the tension in your muscles will dissipate and studies show that regular exercise can help you sleep better.

For people who struggle with anxiety and depression, research suggests that 30 minutes of sustained activity every other day can significantly improve symptoms.

Researchers from The Mayo Clinic found that movement can even help prevent a relapse after treatment for depression or anxiety.

Regular walking is the simplest, easiest activity to start off with, but if you like tennis or the pool or you still have a pair of rollerblades in your closet, that may be your new ticket to a sunnier mood, a slimmer body and a healthier heart.

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