Health Benefits of Exercise

Regardless of your age, sex or orientation exercise is good for you and can help you live a longer, happier and healthier life. Regular exercise, meaning at least 30-60 minutes a day three to five days a week of moderate physical activity can increase health benefits for not only your body, but also your mind. Some of the benefits your physical body will acquire include protecting you from heart attacks, strokes, high blood pressure, chronic pain, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, colon and breast cancer, sarcopenia, obesity, and arthritis. Some of the mental health benefits of exercise include increasing memory, reducing stress, anxiety, depression and improving self-esteem.

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is one of the leading causes of health related deaths in the United States. Your heart is a muscle and muscles need to be exercised to stay healthy. Also, like other muscles, the more your heart is exercised the stronger it will get and the less susceptible it will become to cardiovascular disease. To reduce your risk of CVD is it recommended that you increase your physical activity to at least 800-1000 kilocalories per week and eat a heart healthy diet. Cardiovascular and aerobic exercise can also assist with hypertension. Another benefit of regular exercise is strengthening your body’s insulin regulatory systems. Exercise can help cells transport glucose to liver, muscle and tissue reducing risks and helping to cure type 2 diabetes. Physical activity also can also reduce the risk of strokes and prevent recurring strokes by regulating blood pressure, breaking down glucose and assisting with mobility and balance.

In addition to protecting and preventing your organs from premature failure, exercise can also support muscular and skeletal health. Your muscle mass is important for movement and load bearing tasks. Over time, muscle mass can deteriorate causing weakness and inhibiting daily tasks such as walking, running, agility and even balance. This is known as sarcopenia and increases with age. There are resistance exercises that can be done whether you are 25 or 50 that can improve muscular and skeletal health. Exercise can also help with people experiencing arthritis. Although it is commonly prevalent amongst people 55 and over, arthritis can affect people of all ages. Exercises that can help improve and reduce arthritis include aerobic exercises as well as aquatic exercises that will decrease wear and pain on load bearing joints. Finally, to help improve bone health physical activity can stimulate bone growth and prevent osteoporosis which a mineral deficiency that results in increased numbers of bone fractures and breaks.

Along with the physical benefits of physical exercise there are also several mental benefits. People who exercise daily experience a healthier psychological well being. Exercising can be a great way to manage every day stress which can be preventive to mental blockages and breakdowns that are experienced throughout each day. Exercise also boosts your endorphins which results in “feeling good”. It has been known to suppress anger, tension and more importantly, fatigue. Studies have shown that even 5 minutes of exercise can reduce levels of anxiety in both males and females. Fitness also has a major impact on self esteem.  Although understanding contributors to self-esteem can be quite complex, body image, strength, and physical condition or attractiveness are variables that people consider when they evaluate themselves on social levels. People who exercise tend to be both more outgoing and confident in themselves.

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