1. This one thing boosts your mood AND your heart health

    Sometimes, life can feel less like a bowl of cherries... and more like the pits.

    Even in the midst of sunny summertime (not to mention cherry season), if you’re feeling anxious or lonely or have suffered a loss, it can cast a dark cloud over your day.

    Or things could be going perfectly well, and something could hijack your happiness, like some prescription meds or hormone fluctuations, for starters.

    We all get down in the dumps, but when it’s more severe… or doesn’t go away… it could be depression.

    Being depressed can do a number on your head for sure, but it can also wallop your heart – and I’m not just talking about the “heartache” that those cowboys used to sing about.

    Depression can also raise your risk of a cardiac event that could send you six feet under.

    But according to a new study, there's a natural way to slash your risk of both depression AND your risk of dying from cardiovascular disease: Get moving!

    In the study, published in JAMA Psychiatry, researchers put nearly 18,000 middle-aged folks on a treadmill to measure their cardiorespiratory fitness. When they analyzed those same folks’ health records years later, they found that those with the highest levels of fitness in midlife had a 16 percent LOWER risk of depression after age 65 than those with the lowest levels.

    And the most highly fit folks also lowered their risk of death from cardiovascular disease by a whopping 61 percent when compared to the least physically fit.

    But here's the kicker: Even when the participants DID deal with depression later in life, the fittest folks were 56 percent LESS likely to die from cardiovascular disease than the least fit.

    That means that even when the clouds are gathering over your head, physical activity can buffer your heart from the storm!

    Now, when you’re feeling depressed, it could be tied to low levels of the brain chemical serotonin. And being down in the dumps can send your levels of inflammation soaring, which can threaten your heart health by damaging your blood vessels and even making your blood more likely to clot.

    So, the theory is that physical activity gives a one-two punch to depression and heart disease because it BOOSTS your levels of "feel-good" serotonin... and LOWERS your levels of inflammation.

    Plus, exercise helps you sleep better and relieves stress -- both of which help stave off depression and protect your ticker.

    So, if you want to beat the blues while keeping your heart beating steadily, aim to work up a sweat more often!

    Don’t worry if you don’t have access to a treadmill like what was used in the study. Any aerobic activity that gets your heart pumping -- running, biking, or dancing, for instance -- is effective exercise for raising serotonin levels and lowering inflammation.

    But previous studies have shown that even low-intensity activities -- like gardening, walking the dog, or hitting the links -- can ease depression and slash your risk of death.

  2. Exercise slows mild cognitive impairment

    Break a sweat to boost your brainpower

    It's happened to all of us at one time or another.

    You're in the middle of telling a friend or loved one an exciting story -- only to have them remind you that you ALREADY told it to them.

    There goes your punch line!

    As we age, it's not at all uncommon to forget conversations, even recent ones. And you can usually chalk it up to one of those "senior moments."

    But if you begin to get absentminded about events... appointments... and other details more and more frequently, it could be a sign of mild cognitive impairment.

    It doesn't have a great name, because sometimes it's not so "mild." And it can lead to something more serious.

    It's actually a gray area between the "brain burps" of aging -- the ones you don't have to worry about -- and the more severe onset of dementia.

    Some docs will throw up their hands in defeat and tell you that there's nothing you can do to stop it.

    On the other hand, your doc might prescribe you a drug -- but one that's approved for Alzheimer's (which you don't actually have yet) and comes with risky side effects and few benefits.

    But according to new guidelines from the American Academy of Neurology (based on a review of all studies to date), there's something else you can do to put the brakes on cognitive impairment -- and it just so happens to be invigorating for your body AND your brain.

    I'm talking about exercise!

    Multiple studies have found that exercising at least twice a week won't just improve your memory problems... it may even SLOW DOWN the rate at which your cognitive troubles worsen.

    And that's critically important -- because 5 to 10 percent of cases of mild cognitive impairment progress to full-blown dementia over time.

    The theory is that exercise gets blood flowing to every nook and cranny of your gray matter AND "beefs up" your brain thickness in key areas -- both of which are known to help preserve your precious memories.

    So, instead of driving over to the pharmacy... go take a walk!

    "Aerobic" activities that make you break a little sweat, like brisk walking and jogging, are recommended to get that blood a-flowin'.

    But previous studies have shown that everything from gentle yoga to lifting weights can put the brakes on cognitive decline.

    While even just two workouts each week can boost your brainpower, it's ideal to aim for about 30 minutes of activity, five times a week.

    As a bonus, ANY form of exercise can boost your mood... strengthen your heart... and help you shed a few pounds.

  3. Exercise changes your gut bacteria for the better

    Why exercise should become one of your favorite things As the cold days of winter close in, it can be hard to drag yourself out of the house to get any kind of exercise. And that's especially true for today -- when all you want to do is stay in your jammies and cuddle up under a blanket with sleeves...
  4. Light exercise reduces the risk of early death

    Staying active is easier than you think Sometimes, the thought of exercising can be about as appealing as eating a bowl of broccoli. You know it's good for you... but it's hard to work up your "appetite"! And when you start breaking a sweat, breathing harder, and feeling your heart pounding in your chest, being active can feel downright uncomfortable...
  5. Any amount of exercise is better than nothing

    Even if you can't exercise every day, researchers have found that weekend spurts of physical activity can help you live longer than if you were to do nothing at all.
  6. Just 15 minutes of exercise could help you live longer

    In just 15 minutes a day, you could lower your risk of death by 22 percent. If you’re inactive, all you need to do is start with a low level of activity – but the time to start is now.
  7. Extreme exercise linked to A-fib

    Cardiotoxicity found in folks who participate in frequent, intense exercise sessions
  8. Study: Exercise can reduce tumor size, slow progression in cancer patients

    Exercise actually carries cancer-fighting cells to tumors faster.
  9. Light exercise is all you need

    Forget exercise that's painful and uncomfortable. If you really want to be fit and trim, just go for a walk each day.
  10. Cancel your gym membership, add YEARS to your life

    Overloading on exercise can double your risk of early death.

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