Updated: Oct 16
Original post: September 16, 2010
Physical exercise is crucial for health maintenance and youth preservation for both human and animal members of the family. Research shows with irrefutable evidence, that maintaining the muscle mass with regular resistance training and conditioning the cardiovascular system with a brisk walk or light run supports longevity and quality of life.
Use it or lose it. The old cliché, ‘use it or lose it’ definitely fits when it comes to muscle strength and muscle tone. Challenging the body with physical work prompts healthy hormone activity as well and it holds true for humans and their pets. We know quite well that the sedentary lifestyle can contribute to fat mass accumulation but what is less known is that a lack of physical work will allow the muscle and other lean tissues of the body to degenerate as well. Degeneration of lean muscle simultaneous with the increment of body fat produces a compounding negative influence on metabolism and general wellness. Healthy strong muscle prevents premature aging. As our companion animals age, their lean-muscle mass tends to diminish. This decline is so reliably consistent that muscle mass or the lean body mass is, in fact, one of the markers utilized to help assess biological age. If we humans lose muscle the risk of disease increases and the potential to recover from disease also declines.
The same is so for our precious pets but regular exercise and good nutrition maintain the strength and integrity of the lean muscle. If regular exercise isn’t part of the family’s lifestyle today, it must start immediately, even if it’s just one brisk 20-minute walk each day. Exercise and healthy muscle maintains strong healthy bones. There’s much more to skeletal muscle than meets the eye. Exercising the skeletal muscle mass directly works the bone mass, and this, too, helps maintain healthy bone density.
The physical stimulation activates specialized cells which improve bone mass as an adaptation feature to the work. Muscle mass is akin to a functional organ in the body, and although it shouldn’t be used as a reservoir for immune-system fuels like glutamine, it will be the tissue the body falls back on during a health emergency. Exercise helps cope with arthritis. Contrary to conventional thinking, exercise is important even if you’re companion animal is contending with disease, arthritis included. The endorphin secretions induced by regular and controlled exercise actually help alleviate pain, raising the threshold to help your pet cope.
The alternative is a sedentary lifestyle which contributes further to degeneration of tissues. On the other hand, the one tissue to develop robustly with the sedentary lifestyle is the adipose tissue and this actually increases the inflammatory potential of the body to worsen the condition, including arthritis.
Physical work improves insulin health, metabolism, and obesity. Studies show that physical activity helps jumpstart natural gene systems involved in regenerating and maintaining insulin health to reverse insulin resistance and diabetes. It’s another one of those natural adaptation mechanisms whereby the body attempts to adapt to the physical work by improving nutrient absorption by the cells.
Consequently it improves sugar transport for energy required by the working cells helping restore insulin health and correcting the diabetic condition. Improvement of insulin resistance literally enhances biological age and general health; it enhances general energy, stamina and strength. It also improves metabolism to the point that fat management is easier. It`s one way exercise helps reverse obesity. Obesity increases the risk for diabetes, bone disease, cancer, depression, dementia, chronic inflammation and more. Exercise truly is the elixir of life.
Exercise pumps toxins out of the body to improve metabolism and mental health. The heart pumps blood and nutrients out to the periphery of the body, but there’s no automatic system which pumps toxins out of the body with the same effectiveness. The lymphatic system is designed to eliminate metabolic byproducts and toxins which the cells of the body are bathed in. The lymphatic system is pumped by the working muscles. Sedentary lifestyles allow this sludge to back up and choke the cells. Physically working muscle literally helps pump this toxicity out of the body supporting health and vigor. This is one reason we feel invigorated and more mentally alert when we exercise with regularity. The feet act like pumps to promote this lymphatic circulation and the working muscles take over throughout the body to continue the flow.
Maintaining the lean tissues of the body with regular physical activity reduces the risk for disease, improves biological age, prevents premature aging and enhances quality of life. The bonus is that if you commit to regular brisk walks with your companion animal, you are likely to benefit from the same health improvements to live life with more vigor and passion. Start with light brisk walks on the flat and advance the program when fitness develops to brisker long walks which include some hills. Variable terrain improves the effect on lean muscle tone and cardiovascular health by creating more resistance for the muscles and incremental conditioning work for the cardiovascular system. Changing the pace when you`re tired provides great variety for both of you as well. Now couple this new level of physical work with a healthy diet which includes live nutrition and a spontaneous quality of life can be enjoyed by you both long-term.
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