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Three Non-Diet Secrets for Incredible Vitality WIE presents Peter Ragnar on Health

Peter Ragnar

Bio & resources While I watch very little television, I saw a show that really caught my interest (see, I do have a few bad habits). Its called The Biggest Loser, and its about fat people attempting to lose weight. In the show, personal trainers put the contestants through their paces with one of the secrets for losing weightexercise. Youll see these folks literally, not just figuratively, working their butts off. Well, theyd better! Did you know that according to the Framingham Heart Study, if youre overweight and smoke, youll shorten your life by an incredible thirteen years? The same study found that even overweight forty-year-olds who never smoked would die three years sooner than those of normal weight. Ninety percent of the conditions and diseases associated with accelerated aging are due to being overweight. Thats where exercise can help. First of all, the more muscle your frame carries, the more calories are needed to supply its energy demand. This is unlike fat, which just sits there and then wobbles around like a balloon filled with water when you move. Exercise uses free fatty acids for eighty percent of its calories, which should be great news for you, even if youre only slightly overweight. Not only will you look better, but your self-image will be vastly improved, blessing you with new confidence and self-esteem. Then there are the health benefits, which are awesome. A Harvard University study conducted by the late Dr. Ralph Paffenbarger on seventeen thousand young men discovered that those who used up fewer than five hundred calories a week on exercise had a very high death rate. However, those men who burned up an average of thirty-five hundred calories a week exercising had a whopping fiftyfour percent improvement in longevity. This was accomplished by simply engaging in five to ten hours a week of intense exercise. The reason for such surprising increases in longevity from exercise is that it has been shown to increase the level of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), which is the

good fat that carries cholesterol out from the blood to the liver, where it is turned into bile and excreted out of the body. Since heart disease is such a dreaded killer, I hope you will now have a greater appreciation of our first non-diet secret for incredible vitality. As I reveal the second secret to you, I want you to take a look at your work schedule. I hope its not like that of the workers constructing a new vacation chalet near my home. They arrive before 7 AM and do not leave before dark. I asked one of the foremen how many hours a week he worked. On average, sixty to seventy, he replied. I wondered when he ever had time to sleep. Sadly, our world is wracked by sleep deprivation. We seem to be proud of our hectic schedules, believing we can make up for loss of sleep with a power nap. Some folks even brag about not needing more than four hours of sleep a day. I think theyd better take a closer look at themselves in the mirror. Why do I say that? Ive been observing the workers constructing this multimilliondollar cabin over the past two years, and you couldnt give me that amount of money in exchange for the years theyve aged. Not only have they aged noticeably, but theyve increased their health risks substantially. A recent Japanese study found that men who slept five hours or less were two to three times more likely to have heart attacks and that women who slept less than five hours had an eighty-two percent greater risk of heart disease. And the risk of diabetes is also increased. This is because if you get less than six and a half hours of sleep, youll have a much lower insulin sensitivity. Add to this the SADthe Standard American Dietand youre courting disaster. A University of Chicago study concluded that getting less than four hours of sleep led to accelerated aging in young men. It matters little if youre a student or a carpenter. Harvard Medical School did research that concluded that newly acquired skills (be they work- or education-related) do not improve until you allow yourself at least six to eight hours of uninterrupted sleep. That means getting to bed early and going to sleep quickly. One article in the Journal of Psychosomatic Medicine gives a good reason to fall asleep quickly. The published study, conducted on men and women ages fifty-nine to ninety-one, discovered shockingly that those who took more than thirty minutes to fall asleep were twice as likely to die within the next thirteen years. Wow! It sure makes you think differently about your sleep habits, doesnt it? The third non-diet secret to incredible vitality is a low-stress lifestyle. A fast-paced life is often laced with frustrations, irritations, and worries that result in short tempers and explosive anger. When Harvard Medical School interviewed 1,623 patients shortly after their heart attacks, it found that the emotion of anger doubled

the risk of heart attackheart attacks that occurred just two hours after rageful episodes. We have all experienced the effects of stress on our memory. Do you recall your first piano recital or the first time you were called upon to speak in public? Or can you remember cramming for hours on end for that big exam? Strange, isnt it, how under stress, our memory-retrieval system fails. Why? Its because of increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which cuts off glucose, the brains fuel, and then interferes with the way your neurotransmitters process information, making it difficult to access existing memories. Stress releases adrenaline, causing blood sugar to soar along with your blood pressure and speeding up your heart rate so that you have trouble knowing what to do next. A study in Medical Hypotheses found greatly increased levels of cortisol two to seven days before a person dies. So what can you do to prevent such a tragedy? Calm down, live a less stressful lifestyle, and learn to meditate. Just as we know that people who get little rest have low melatonin levels (the sleep hormone), we also know that melatonin levels are increased by meditation. Meditation also causes a decline in cortisol. We know that anxiety attacks are associated with a rise in blood lactate levels, but those levels are also quite low in people who engage in regular meditation. Actually, all it takes is ten minutes of meditation to drop an anxiety-caused lactate level. For people who have practiced meditation for at least five years, the rewards go beyond less stress: Their biological ages have been found to be twelve years below their chronological ages. Therefore, if youd like to avoid the pain and worry of rapid aging, dreadful diseases, and a short life filled with troubles, the solution is simple: Exercise five to ten hours a week, sleep at least seven to eight hours a night, and live a slower, less stressful lifestyle. These are the three non-diet secrets for incredible vitality. Peter Ragnar is a natural life scientist, modern-day Taoist wizard, and self-master par excellence. A martial arts practitioner for over fifty years, he is renowned for his teachings on optimal health and longevity. He is the author of twenty books, including The Art and Science of Physical Invincibility.