December 14, 2017
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Healthy body is more than what you see in the mirror

Stock photo | BDN
Stock photo | BDN
Presented By Portland Science Center

Museum-quality automobiles are usually old, have unique characteristics or designs, and most importantly, they have been lovingly cared for or restored. Is your body fit for a museum? Whether or not you consider yourself old, let’s agree that you have a unique design and set of characteristics. That leaves the question of care.

You many not plan to end up as a museum piece, but if you want to be active and healthy throughout your life, there are a few things you should do to take care of yourself. First, however, take some time to understand that being healthy and fit is about more than appearance. Eating properly and getting the right amount of exercise is critical to maintaining systems that you can’t see in the mirror. And those systems are related in ways you may not think about often.

For example, physicians everywhere will applaud you if you’ve never been a cigarette smoker or if you’re an ex-smoker. Smoking illustrates the ripple effect that one unhealthy habit can have on your well being. Yes, smoking can directly cause illnesses such as cancer, emphysema and bronchitis. But smoking damages the lungs in ways that limit your body’s use of oxygen. That in turn limits the ability – and desire – to exercise, which leads to obesity, low energy and other health problems. Cigarette smoking also leads directly to higher blood pressure, increased heart rate, and reduced blood flow, and it changes blood vessels and blood cells in ways that allow cholesterol to build up.

Healthy habits like regular exercise and a nutritious diet can have the opposite effect. Aerobic exercise like walking, jogging or swimming strengthen the heart muscle so that it doesn’t beat as hard or as fast when you’re at rest, which means the heart, and you, could last longer. Anaerobic exercise, like weight lifting, builds muscle, which burns calories and speeds the metabolism even when resting. A faster metabolism can control weight gain, and strong muscles make it easier to move through everyday life.

Food provides fuel, vitamins and minerals that help your body’s cells and organs do their jobs. Like an automobile that doesn’t get the proper fuel, enough oil or occasional maintenance, a body will start to break down if it is not fed with a nutritious diet.

Food and exercise work together. Without good food, it’s more difficult to exercise, and without exercise, your body doesn’t use food’s energy and nutrition efficiently.

So treat your body as if it’s going to be part of a museum collection someday. A healthy lifestyle can keep you in good condition, and it increases the likelihood that you’ll be old enough for an exhibit, too.

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