55 Ways to Stay Young: Sleep and exercise




Posted on August 6, 2009 at 9:42 AM

Updated Monday, Sep 28 at 4:19 PM

Video: 55 Ways to Stay Young: Sleep and exercise

Optimum sleep habits

How did you sleep last night? Was it seven to eight hours of pleasant dreams? That's what's needed to rejuvenate your body.

To see if you're sleep deprived, there's a simple test you can do with your eyes closed.

"If a person has enough sleep, when they lie down at bed at night and the lights are off, it should take them about 15 minutes to fall asleep," said Dr. Pizzorno of Bastyr University. "The less time it takes to fall asleep, the more sleep deprived the person is."

Keeping your room cool at night and not drinking coffee in the afternoon can help you get a good night's sleep.

And, during the waking hours, keep your feet moving.

Exercise is the best youth preserver

Like a shot in the arm , exercise can prevent chronic illnesses. It one of the most potent medicines for staying young and the closest thing we have to an anti-aging pill. In fact, it's one of the most underused medications that we have.

"I think we would say if exercise were a pill, we would be millionaires because it's that valuable," said Dr. Anne McTiernan of Fred Hutchison Cancer Research Center.

Numerous studies show that regular exercise is the best way to reverse the aging process.

"One reason people get weaker as they get older is not because they're aging but because they are physically less active," said Dr. Joe Pizzorno of Bastyr University.

Physical activity, at any age, is a step in the right direction. Just making small changes and improving your lifestyle will make big differences. The good news is, you don't have to be an athlete.

Becoming a triathlete

Forty-seven-year-old Theresa Trinka wasn't an athlete when she started to exercise. She just wanted to lose the weight she had gained after the birth of her fourth child.

"I thought I want to be able to keep up with my kids and I decided one morning I was going to start and i did," she said.

Trinka began running, swimming and biking. She set goals for herself and lost more than 80 pounds.

"I tell people when they're first getting started, sign up for a 5K run even if you are going to walk it," she said.

Her training turned her into a medal-winning triathlete, who has completed the Canadian Iron Man several times.

"It's just an awesome feeling when they put that medal around your neck," Trinka said..

She seldom makes excuses to not exercise, even though she has plenty -- raising a family, going back to school and planning a wedding. She's one month away from marrying a man she met while participating in a triathlon.

With exercise, Trinka has found the road to happiness, and it's a road she plans to travel for a long time to come.

"I just can't imagine me not doing this forever," she said. " It's just great and the best part is doing exercise with my kids."