How Exercise Really Is the Antidote For All That Ails You

Gym owners say it’s because of New Year’s resolutions that gym memberships increase 25% or more in the month of January alone. Now there’s definitive evidence that just 20 minutes of physical activity a day slashes the risk of many illnesses, including cancer, dementia, and heart disease. That’s more effective than some medications. The exercise doesn’t have to be a yoga glass or boring run on a treadmill — even gardening has been show to be a major protector. While doctors will likely never recommend it, studies suggest that exercises can even undo the effects of a bad diet and make up for sleepless nights. The CDC recommends that people get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week, or roughly 20 minutes a day. Included in that time, the agency recommends that 2 days be dedicated to muscle-strenghtening exercises. Moderate-intensity exercises include biking, dancing, hiking, jogging, brisk walking, and swimming. Strengthening exercises include weight-lifting, push-ups, pull-ups, and squats. However, even light activity like household chores can reduce the risk of disease by more than 20%.