Exercise: What’s In It for You?
Many of us made New Year resolutions related to improving our health and fitness for 2018. We all know that exercise is good for us, but a month into the New Year may be a good time to review some of the specific benefits of exercise as an encouragement to follow through with our decision.
12 Benefits of Exercise:
Cranky? Get moving. Exercise makes you feel happier. When you work out, your body makes endorphins — “feel-good” chemicals in the brain. You can actually start to feel better within a few minutes of moving. But the effects of regular exercise can last for a long time. Some folks have difficulty getting their day started in the morning. Just start to move and you are likely to begin to feel better. (Don’t wait to move until you “feel” like it).
You might not expect it, but using energy to exercise gives you more get-up-and-go. Sometimes when you’re tired, the last thing you want to do is move. But when you exercise regularly, that fatigue goes away and you find yourself with a lot more pep. Increased energy from regular exercise tends to promote a more active life-style that further enhances health. Working out early in the morning is a great way to energize your day.
Good Night’s Sleep
Get regular exercise to help you fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly. The harder you exercise, the more likely you are to have a good night’s sleep. It doesn’t matter when you exercise, as long as you don’t have trouble sleeping. If you do have problems, though, work out earlier in the day.
You just walked a mile or ran your first 5K or you completed a personal coaching workout or EFIIT session. Success like that can boost your self-esteem and make you ready to conquer anything. Exercise makes you feel good about yourself. Improved fitness related to regular exercise facilitates a more adventurous life style.
Exercise calms your body and your brain. After your body works hard, the levels of stress hormones — like adrenaline and cortisol — drop. Stress and anxiety fade away, especially after aerobic exercise. Regular exercise fosters a change in focus and a more positive outlook.
Want to be more efficient at work? Take a break and get some exercise. In one study, people who got moving in the middle of the day were much more productive when they went back to work. They also were happier and got along better with their co-workers. Consistent regular exercise of 30-60 minutes daily for 3 months is likely to improve productivity to the point of off-setting most of the time spent exercising. The idea of not having time to exercise regularly is not validated by objective assessment.
Exercise and diet work together to keep your weight healthy. Whether you want to lose some inches around the waist or just avoid putting on extra pounds, exercise is a key factor. Try to work out 30-60 minutes most days of the week. Regular exercise tends to foster a more nutritious diet when keeping fitness in mind.
Regular exercise can add years to your life. And that counts even if you’re not a hard-core fitness buff. Just get moving. Even a little exercise can help you live longer than not exercising at all. The American Heart Association says that people who maintain a healthy weight and are physically active live an average of 7 years longer than those who don’t. Perhaps more importantly is the enhanced quality of life during your actual years lived. Frailty usually manifests later in life, but is the result of disuse atrophy. How long we live is more of a God thing. How we live and to a significant extent how we die is a choice. It is prudent to focus on what we can influence.
Strong Bones and Muscles
Your bones and muscles get stronger when you work out. It’s especially important to do weight-bearing exercise, such as weight-lifting, tennis, walking, and dancing. Resistance training with a skilled coach can enhance strength while helping to ensure maintaining proper alignment and minimize injury. This can help build bones as you get older. And it can help ward off osteoporosis and protect your balance and coordination.
It’s no secret that exercise is great for your heart. Regular workouts lower your risk of heart disease, improve your blood cholesterol levels, and help control and even prevent high blood pressure. Remember that the heart is a vital muscle that requires exercise to maintain healthy function.
Lower Risk of Cancer
Regular exercise can cut your risk of some cancers, including colon, breast, and lung. People who have cancer have better quality of life when they exercise. Continuing to exercise during health as well as disease is important, while allowing for proper rest considerations as indicated by our specific condition.
Less Arthritis Pain
If you have arthritis, regular exercise can help ease your pain. It can make your daily activities easier. Try non-impact exercises like swimming. They can be easier on sore joints. Working with a skilled coach can help maximize your workout while minimizing stress to the involved joint areas. Proper exercise that avoids stressing inflamed joints can actually reduce inflammation.
Although the reasons to exercise are many, the above discussion provides a summary of some of the health benefits that result when regular exercise is part of a comprehensive healthy life-style. Working with a skilled coach is an excellent way to work around specific impairments. Essentially all of us benefit from regular exercise.
Paul R. Block, MD FACP, FCCP