Physical exercise is an integral constituent of a healthy lifestyle. Aiding our overall health in more than one way, exercise is a tried and tested way of keeping the mind and body in top shape. Regardless of the condition in which one is in, every individual should engage in some form of physical exercise so that they may remain healthy. For the best results, it is advised that one follows an exercise regime that best complies with their age and overall health requirements.
Some people live with the misconception that physical activity should only be done to lose weight, becoming leaner, or increase muscle mass. In reality, exercise benefits you in every day. From sleep quality to boosts in energy to improved memory; exercise is the key to living a healthy and balanced life.
How exercise benefits you?
Following is a list of benefits of exercise that can help you live a happier and healthier life.
1. Blood Pressure Buster
Exercise helps lower blood pressure by explicitly targeting deposited plaque in the arteries. Plaque deposition contributes to hypertension. When the body is subjected to physical activity, blood vessels widen which enables the blood to flow more easily through them which leads to a decrease in blood pressure.
2. Reduces Risk of Diabetes
Diabetes is quickly evolving into a worldwide public health crisis. As of 2018, more than 500 million people worldwide live have been affected by Type 2 Diabetes. Two of the most prominent risk factors associated with the development of diabetes are obesity and sedentary lifestyle choices. What better way is there to tackle these than with exercise? Physical activity helps regulate blood sugar levels and increase the body’s sensitivity to insulin. It improves the body’s ability to metabolize glucose effectively thereby lessening one’s chances of developing diabetes. Additionally, exercise burns calories which helps contribute to weight loss.
3. Kicks Fat to the Curb
Owing to a conjoined outcome of sedentary living, unhealthy food choices, and a lack of knowledge, a greater number of people are now categorizing in the overweight and obese category. Obesity has a direct effect on one’s expected lifespan and overall quality of life as it predisposes an individual to a whole new array of illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, stroke, etc. Therefore, if you wish to keep yourself healthy, reaching your ideal weight should be a top priority.
When it comes to weight loss, an important measure that every individual must take into account is their body mass index, or BMI.
BMI is a measure of your overall metabolic status. To ensure healthy living, it is crucial that to have a properly functioning metabolism. Exercise increases the body’s metabolic rate and works by swapping body fat with fat-free tissues. Thus, it is advised for people to lose weight through regular exercise and maintenance of a proper diet. The more you exercise, the greater the amount of body fat you will burn and more weight you will lose.
4. Aerobic Power Training
Aerobic capacity can be defined as the body’s ability to work at its maximum capacity by allowing oxygen to reach the tissues. Each individual has a different aerobic capacity. Studies suggest that people lose 1% of their aerobic power with every passing year. Research claims that exercise and training can play a critical role in reducing these losses. Whether it is short-term or long-term training, exercise can help increase a person’s aerobic power by boosting their stamina and improving their body’s oxygen carrying capacity.
5. Enhances Bone Strength and Resilience
Exercise helps keep the bones healthy and strong. As we age, our bodies age with us. One such age-associated manifestation is the loss of bone mineral strength. With every successive year, the human body on average loses a small percentage of its bone mineral strength. Exercise plays an integral role in the maintenance of bone health by subjecting the bones to specific stresses that result in improved stamina and endurance.
Resistance training which involves strenuous activity such as lifting weights and is ideal for amplifying bone strength. Although modifiable depending on one’s age, health condition, and overall strength, the key to attaining significant benefit from it, however, is by building your stamina. Start slow and gradually progress to reaching your maximum potential for the best results.
6. Immunity Booster
Our immune system keeps us protected from infection, chemical toxins, and stress. Immune senescence is an inevitable reality that comes with aging. However, a certain study claimed that people who reported with the greatest reduction in depressed immunity were those who did not exercise.
Additionally, those individuals with a habit of regular exercise exhibited fewer signs of immunosuppression. In fact, even minimal routine exercise has been proved to help reverse some of the damaging outcomes of aging on the body’s sensitive yet intricate and complex system.
7. Fosters More Energy
Exercise enables the body to function with greater efficiency. With increased efficiency comes greater blood flow and thus a greater amount of oxygen to fuel the body’s metabolic needs.
Physical activity results in the release of a variety of hormones and neurotransmitter chemicals that enable the body to feel invigorated. Once you have incorporated exercise in your daily routine, you will observe a change in your body as you will be more productive throughout the day without feeling fatigued, weary, or stressed.
8. Facilitates Muscle Gain
Resistance training, in addition to strengthening bones, also helps increase muscle mass. The tension of the muscles against the bone allows you to reap the maximum benefit of weightlifting. If you do not subject your body to lifting regular weights, studies suggest that you are likely to lose your muscle strength at a rate of 1% annually. This gradual loss of muscle mass with age is called sarcopenia, and it can easily be, if not reversed, significantly reduced with the help of resistance training. Stronger muscles contribute to enhanced aerobic power as well as maintaining a healthy, lean, fat-free body mass.
9. Key to living Arthritis-free
Arthritis is an illness found commonly among the middle-aged and older demographic. Resulting from abnormalities in cartilage as well as an outgrowth of bones in the joints, arthritis poses severe difficulties for those affected by it, especially people who are overweight.
To improve your chances of living a life free of arthritis, the best form of exercise to engage in is flexibility training. Yoga, Tai Chi, Qigong and similar activities contribute to the increased range of movement and fluidity of joints. They keep the joints protected from any damage resulting from overuse and lowers the risk of injury such as torn ligaments and muscles.
10. Better Breathing
Regular exercise can help strengthen the muscles of the lungs by becoming more active. Similar to how we train our body’s muscles to become stronger through consistent practice, in the same way, exercise trains the lung muscles to become stronger.
Physical activity induces greater blood flow thereby improving the efficacy of oxygen permeating the body cells through its effect on aerobic capacity. In the initial days of training, it is not uncommon to feel exhausted and breathless after a few minutes. However, with time and practice, there is substantial stamina build up, and you can go on for much longer than you did initially. This is primarily owed to the enhanced efficiency of one’s breathing capacity.
11. Enhances Sex Drive
Exercise causes the release of hormones and chemicals namely the most popular ones: endorphins. These chemicals induce changes in the body that manifest themselves in different ways. For instance, endorphins are labelled happy hormones because they alleviate feelings of depression and instead make a person feel more at ease, calmer, and more content. Similar to endorphins, physical activity directs your endocrine glands to produce more hormones. These hormones regulate muscle mass increase which in turn results in greater stimulation and androgen production. This mechanism enables individuals to maintain a healthy sexual drive.
12. Sleep Cycle Regulation
Research proves that regular physical exercise helps regulate sound sleep patterns and improves the overall quality of one’s sleep. Experts recommend exercise to be done during the day as the physical exertion helps the body keep the circadian rhythm in check. The quality of sleep that you experience after a long day of considerable exhaustion is generally more revitalizing.
Sleeping better comes with its own array of benefits. Regular and better sleep has been known to lower one’s risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, cognitive impairment, mental health issues, and improved immunity.
13. Mental Health Aid
Mental health is the leading cause of disability in the United States. Physical activity releases endorphins which help alleviate feelings of anxiety and stress. Workouts are an excellent distraction as they direct our focus away from the thoughts that are bothering us. This form of distraction is exceptionally beneficial for those suffering from mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, etc. Coupled with a boost of energy, exercise helps one feel rejuvenated and revitalized thereby allowing them to step out of their emotional slump. Working out also makes one more interactive and social thereby contributing to improved self-esteem and better self-confidence.
14. Mood Lifter
People who exercise have a reduced risk of developing depression owing to the release of neurotransmitters called endorphins. Exercise is one of the behavioral treatments often prescribed to people struggling with mental health issues in particular. Its effect on the regulation of serotonin and norepinephrine relieves the feelings of sorrow and enables one to feel happier. Its impact bears considerable significance as one research study requested a group of men and women who exercised regularly to either continue exercising or stop exercising for two weeks. Those who stopped exercising experienced measurable increases in negativity, irritability, and general unhappiness.
15. Memory Booster
Many studies have deduced the effect of exercise in enhancing one’s memory. Physical activity helps neurons to maintain their shape particularly in the areas of the brain concerned with memory namely the hippocampus, i.e. the brain’s memory center. One does not necessarily have to engage in strenuous exercise in attempts to reap its benefits. Anything as simple as a daily casual stroll can contribute to enhanced memory. Furthermore, exercise lowers levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. This helps improve one’s mood by alleviating their anxiety and thus aiding enhanced memory.
Experts also claim that exercise plays a part in amplifying intelligence owing to enhanced blood flow to the brain. This increased blood flow increases mental activity in the brain’s memory centers thereby contributing to heightened intelligence.
16. Lowers Predisposition to Dementia
A healthy workout helps suppress one’s susceptibility to developing dementia. According to the results of a research study that spanned over four decades, individuals with a high level of physical activity were at a 52% lesser risk of developing dementia as compared to those with a history of minimal physical activity. The study concluded that exercise plays an important role in the development vascular dementia, the second most commonly occurring variant of dementia.
17. Prevents Skin Damage and Aging
The largest organ of the body, the skin, is prone to significant damage owing to oxidative stress in the body. Oxidative stress transpires when the body is unable to repair the damages caused by free radicals. The body’s antioxidant defenses fail to compensate for these damages affecting organs including the skin. While, intense physical exercise can lead to oxidative stress-induced damage, routine exercise in moderation increases the body’s protection by stimulating the production of natural antioxidants.
Similarly, the enhanced blood flow that accompanies exercise induces skin cell adaptations that can retard the skin aging process. Exercise subsequently results in sweating and sebum secretion which possesses antibacterial as well as lubricating properties that keeps the skin from drying out. (Dry skin is more prone to the appearance of fine lines and wrinkling as compared to normal or oily skin.)
It is important to prioritize yourself amidst the workings of the fast-paced world we live in. Start working out today and notice a positive change within you.