We live in a society that is obsessed with 'Weight Loss'. Constantly, we hear about the 'Benefits of Exercise' being Weight Loss, Muscle Gain, and Fat Loss… But how much do you really know about the 'other' great things that exercise can bring into your life??
Here, I have outlined TEN of the things that I feel are the most important things that exercise can do for you..
1. Reduces blood pressure: Chronic hypertension is the number one form of heart disease. The causes of hypertension include the increased plaque in the arteries that builds up from consuming a high- glycemic, and high fat diet. Exercise helps reduce your blood pressure, in part, by attacking the plaque in your arteries. As the arteries widen, the blood flows through more freely, and your blood pressure eventually starts to drop. Hypertension also decreases as the result of exercise because your heart, a muscle, is getting a workout. The stronger your heart muscle gets, the greater its ability to pump blood through the arteries, which also helps to reduce your blood pressure.
2. Lowers Type 2 diabetes risk: You’ve probably heard that an increase in the prevalence of Type 2 diabetes is becoming a world-wide public health crisis. Even if you don’t care about the health of the world, you should care about your own risk of diabetes. The complications of adult-onset Type 2 diabetes pose a serious risk to your physical well-being. By engaging in regular physical exercise, you improve your body’s ability to metabolize glucose, the key to staving off this disease.
3. Maintains immune function: Your immune system is what protects you from infection and other chemical toxins. The immune system also plays a role in maintaining a healthy response to stress (more on this later). Although for many years, researchers talked about “immune senescence” as an inevitable result of aging, we now know that the studies showing these inevitable declines were conducted on people who didn’t exercise. Even short-term exercise programs can reverse some of the deleterious effects of aging on this sensitive, complex, and crucial regulatory system which controls so much of your everyday health.
4. Boosts your energy: Because your body is functioning more efficiently, you’ve got more oxygen to fuel your body’s cells. You also feel fewer aches and pains and have greater strength. As a result, you can go about your daily activities feeling less fatigued, stressed, and weary. Although going to the gym early in the morning or late in the afternoon may feel like the last thing you have energy to do, once you build exercise into your daily routines, these workout bouts will actually seem less tiresome because you’ll feel more mentally and physically capable of carrying them out.
5. Boosts memory. The effect of exercise on many of your bodily systems ultimately pays off in improving your cognitive functioning. There are now volumes of studies on humans showing that regular physical exercise helps your neurons stay in shape particularly in the memory areas of your brain. You don’t even have to exert yourself that much to experience this memory boost. Moderate walking can help your brain’s memory centre, the hippocampus, maintain its health and vitality. Memory also benefits from a general lowering of cortisol, the stress hormone, associated with the improved mood and anxiety levels you experience from your regular workouts.
6. Keeps bones strong. Another normal age-related change is the loss of bone mineral strength. Here again, the magic number of a 1% loss per year seems to be the considered wisdom of how fast our body’s bones get thinner and weaker. Once again, though, exercise is the key to maintaining your bone’s health. The specific form of exercise required for bone strength involves resistance training in which you lift weights, or even just your own bodyweight. The amount of resistance training varies according to your age and physical strength. You need to spend no less than an hour a week of increasingly strenuous weight-lifting until you reach your maximum potential.
7. Improves sex life. (Yes, you read right!!) Keeping your muscles active and strong helps promote the demands placed on your endocrine glands to produce more hormones. With more muscle mass comes greater stimulation to produce androgens which help both men and women maintain their sexual functioning. You are also likely to feel and be more fit, which in turn will benefit your interest in and ability to carry out sexual activity. Your emotional resilience will also be greater if you exercise, which also benefits your relationship health.
8. Brings about better sleep. Although sleep experts recommend that you not exercise right before you go to bed, exercise during the day benefits your sleep at night. The physical exertion you engage in during the day helps your body’s circadian rhythm keep in tune. Sleeping better at night also improves, in turn, your immune functioning and even lowers your risk for heart disease, diabetes, and cognitive impairment. A win-win for sure!
9. Improves Mood and Decreases Anxiety. It’s a well-kept secret that people who exercise regularly also have lower risk of depression. Our pill-popping culture tends to emphasize medical interventions for psychological disorders over behavioral treatments. Exercise is one of these behavioral treatments. Aerobic exercise improves your mood by causing your body’s endorphins to kick in. These are the natural “feel good” neurotransmitters that start to exert their effects after about 20 minutes of training. These regular exercise-related boosts eventually improve your overall mental health over the long term… Also related to exercise’s effects on mood are its effects on your levels of anxiety. As your levels of endorphins increase, your feelings of worry also start to diminish. When you exercise, you also refocus your attention from your daily problems to the workout itself. You can gain a fresh perspective on even the most preoccupying concerns in your life by taking an exercise break. When you return to these daily problems, you approach them with renewed energy and even some new ways to figure out solutions.
10. Builds intelligence. Along with memory, your intellectual skills benefit from regular physical activity. It also helps if you can build in some mental activity as well. As oxygen flows more freely to your brain, not only does your hippocampus benefit but so does the part of your brain involved in planning and reasoning (the prefrontal cortex). Mental activity, particularly involvement in exercises that require you to respond quickly, also boosts your intelligence and even your ability to carry out activities of daily living.