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April 02, 2012

Powerful Reasons to Exercise

 

The top five most common chronic diseases in our country are lifestyle induced. Regular exercise is a critical part of staying healthy. People who are active live longer, feel better, maintain a healthier weight and prevent literally dozens of health conditions. Most adults need at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity five days per week. Examples include walking briskly, dancing, swimming for recreation or bicycling. Stretching and weight training can also strengthen your body and improve your fitness level.

 

 

The key is to find the right exercise for you. If it is fun, you are more likely to stay motivated. You may want to walk with a friend, join a class or plan a group bike ride. If you've been inactive for a while, use a sensible approach and start out slowly.

If you are having trouble starting or maintaining an exercise routine, it may be that you are focusing on the wrong things. Instead of focusing on the effort or time that it will take, shift your concentration to how satisfied you will be when you have finished, or how good you will look and feel in a few weeks. If that isn’t enough think about the kind of life you may live or may not live as you grow older if you don’t exercise. There are 1,440 minutes in every day.Schedule 30 of them for physical activity!

In general, people who are physically active live longer, healthier lives. Exercise has long been proven to have beneficial effects on every system of the body.

 

Brain Function
Exercise stimulates the formation of new brain cells (neurons) and strengthens connections between nerve cells. The areas of the brain that are stimulated through exercise are associated with memory and learning. That being said, physical activity can also delay impairment and dementia. Older adults who engage in regular physical activity perform better in decision-making processes, memory and problem solving. And what about children? The University of Illinois researchers have found that physical activity can enhance the academic achievements of children by improving their attention and working memory skills.

Increased Immune Function and Cancer Prevention
Exercise has the capacity to enhance the immune response to bacterial/viral infections and even cancer. It increases circulation and waste output, increases the body's defense cell response, and decreases stress-related hormones which all contribute to a stronger immune system. Healthy immune function is not only important in avoiding infections but also preventing autoimmune diseases and ridding the body of cancerous cells. Evidence exists that physical activity may be associated with a lower risk of several common forms of cancer, most notably prostate, colon, lung and breast cancer. Those who exercise also have better outcomes than those who do not if diagnosed with cancer.

Decreased Inflammation
Recent studies show that exercise not only decreases levels of inflammatory chemicals but also increases the amount of insulin and glucose the body uses, rather than stores, by 16 percent. Reducing inflammation through exercise may reduce your joint pain, arthritis and your risk of developing cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease and Hypertension
There is a direct relationship between physical inactivity and cardiovascular death. Regular physical activity makes your heart, like any other muscle, stronger. A stronger heart can pump more blood with less effort. Regular exercise also prevents heart disease by lowering blood pressure, increasing good HDL cholesterol that transports fat away from the arteries and back to the liver for processing, reducing levels of bad LDL cholesterol that can form fatty deposits in the arteries and by preventing blood clots.

In a long-term Swedish study women and men who were physically active at least twice a week had a 41% lower risk of developing coronary heart disease than those who performed no physical activity.

Reduced Risk of Stroke
Research data indicates that moderate and high levels of physical activity may reduce the risk of total, ischemic, and hemorrhagic strokes. People who have good physical function after the age of 40 may lower their risk of stroke by as much as 50 percent compared to people who are not able to climb stairs, kneel, bend, or lift as well.

Prevention and Control of Type 2 Diabetes
There is strong evidence that moderate physical activity combined with weight loss and balanced diet provides a 50-60% reduction in risk of developing diabetes among those already at high risk. Regular physical activity improves insulin resistance and glucose tolerance and is highly effective in preventing or delaying the onset of type 2 diabetes in persons with impaired glucose regulation.

Bone and Muscle Strength
An active lifestyle benefits bone density. Regular weight-bearing exercise promotes bone formation, delays bone loss and may protect against osteoporosis (form of bone loss associated with aging). Health studies repeatedly show that strength training increases muscle strength and mass and decreases fat tissue.

More Health Benefits

  • Attractive Body
    With a fit body you look better in clothes and feel more confident. Both resistance and aerobic exercise will improve body composition even if you are not dieting.
     
  • Better Night’s Sleep
    Researches from the Stanford University School of Medicine found that regular exercise provides improvement in general quality of sleep, quicker sleep-onset, longer sleep duration and feeling rested in the morning.
     
  • Back Pain Remedy
    By increasing core muscle strength and endurance and improving flexibility and posture, regular exercise helps to prevent back pain. High quality studies prove that exercise is effective for recurrent low back pain.
     
  • Stress Management
    Exercise can cause release of chemicals called endorphins into your blood stream. These chemicals give you a feeling of happiness and positively affect your overall sense of well-being.
     
  • Alternative to Antidepressants
    Study after study has shown that exercise promotes mental health and reduces symptoms of depression. The antidepressant effect of regular physical exercise has been shown to be more effective than potent antidepressant drugs. Research suggests that it may take at least 30 minutes of exercise a day for at least three to five days a week to significantly improve symptoms of depression. However, smaller amounts of activity (as little as 10 to 15 minutes at a time) have been shown to improve mood in the short term.
     
  • Gastrointestinal Tract Benefits
    Exercise is beneficial for persons suffering from constipation or gallstones. Physical activity may also reduce the risk of diverticulosis, gastrointestinal hemorrhage, and inflammatory bowel disease.
     
  • Therapy for Post Menopausal Women
    High-intensity exercise significantly reduces negative changes related to the menopausal transition.
     
  • Age Gracefully
    Regular physical activity provides improved memory and brain function, stronger bones and muscles, greater balance and flexibility, increased immunity and a myriad of other health benefits.

Recommendations

  • Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity a week (30 minutes - 5 days/week). Moderate aerobic activity means you're working hard enough to raise your heart rate and break a sweat (you are breathing heavy but can still talk).
  • •Include two strength-training sessions a week that work with the body's major muscle groups.

 

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