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Garden City Telegram

"Winter." "Pandemic." "Creaky joints." "Bad mood." "Did I mention it gets dark too early?" The list of excuses you can come up with for not exercising is virtually endless. But so is the list of benefits. 

According to a new study published in Plos Medicine, the sky's the limit when it comes to using aerobics for your heart health. Oxford University researchers looked at more than 90,000 people and found that not only is physical activity associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, but the folks that get the most exercise also reap the greatest heart health benefits. However, it's important to note that those getting moderate exercise were as well-protected as those doing more intense sessions. 

It's time spent that matters most - and a minimum is 30 minutes a day, but walking 10,000 steps daily takes about 90 minutes, and that or its equivalent is our recommended goal. (Check out the activity conversion chart at https://tinyurl.com/y4bso7z8.) 

What kind of exercise should you do? Well, that depends on your age, ability, physical/geographic circumstances, interests and goals. But no matter whom you are, a study by the Global Sports Institute at Arizona State University shows that everyone should be stretching every day. Stretching involves muscle, as well as connective tissue, including ligaments and fascia, which serve as the links in muscles, bone, blood vessels and organs. When connective tissue becomes less mobile, you can develop inflammation, pain and stiffness. And sore, inflamed muscles - from being sedentary or from activity - can cause chronic discomfort. 

Research in animal models has shown that stretching has anti-inflammatory effects. Now, the rats stretched twice a day for 10 minutes to gain the pain-reduction and mobility benefits, but you'll have to see what works for you! But remember, stretching should never hurt. Slow and gentle is safest and most rewarding. For stretching instructions and videos check out https://health.clevelandclinic.org/tag/stretching/.

The Arizona State researchers didn't just look at stretching benefits. Using exercise data on 26,727 American adults who enrolled in the National Health Interview Survey in 1998 and were followed for 17 years, they could evaluate the benefits of 15 forms of exercise - ranging from stretching to walking, running, aerobics, cycling, baseball, soccer, football, swimming, tennis, golf, weightlifting, stair climbing, to even playing volleyball.

The most important finding was that walking, running, aerobics, stretching, weightlifting and stair climbing were all associated with living longer lives. You can mix 'em up as long as you are doing something most days. We recommend two to three days weekly of strength building and daily aerobics. 

The surprises? The only form of exercise that had a negative effect on longevity was baseball - probably, the researchers suggest, because some ballplayers use chewing tobacco. And along with stretching, the other form of exercise that had the most striking benefit was ... volleyball. Hey, Kerri Walsh Jennings, you've got this nailed!

And speaking of women in sports - a study in Sports Medicine shows that women over age 50 reap the muscle and strength-building benefits of resistance training as much as older men do. The researchers compared the muscle mass and strength gain of 651 men and 759 women, ages 50 to 90. They found that both groups got pumped up but suggest that women should focus on more sets and reps while men can concentrate on higher-intensity strength-training. 

So get started today - doing anything you're in the mood to try. Do it for as long as you like. Then try something else tomorrow. And the day after. These recent studies make it clear that you will feel better and live longer if you just move more and do it often. For guidance, check out Dr. Oz's new OZTube channel (Google "OzTube") on his website that offers classes like "30-Minute Floor Exercises for Lower Body Strength," System 21's "45-Minute Home HIIT Workout," and "Home Yoga Stretch." Explore and enjoy.

Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer Emeritus at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into "The Dr. Oz Show" or visit www.sharecare.com. 

Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.