The Benefits of Regular Exercise

benefits of regular exercise
You may have noticed that I extol the benefits of regular exercise as part of living a healthy lifestyle in many of my personal development articles including: 10 Tips for Maintaining Mental and Emotional Health and The Importance of Maintaining Balance among others.

Scientific research has shown that people who exercise regularly are healthier physically and mentally, have more energy, think more clearly, and sleep better.

Engaging in the habit of regular exercise has also been found to improve your mood, decrease anxiety, decrease the effects of stress and raise self-confidence.

Why then do many of us abandon exercise programs so soon after taking them on? How can we maintain the motivation needed to make it an ongoing habit?

Read on and discover the enormous benefits that regular exercise provides and you will be more than convinced to integrate it into your daily routine.

What is needed to begin an exercise program?

Two things not needed to obtain the benefits of exercise are investing in a health club membership, or purchasing extravagant exercise equipment. Likewise, while vigorous and sweat-inducing activity is good, psychological well-being does not depend upon the intensity or duration of a workout. More important is the ability to maintain an exercise routine. If you can keep up your program for a minimum of two months, you're on your way to reaping the benefits. Not only will it get easier, but you will probably end up enjoying it and will want to continue.

Benefits of Regular Exercise:

Improves physical health and quality of life - Regular exercise helps reduce the risk of premature death from heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and colon and breast cancers. It increases high-density lipoprotein (HDL, or good cholesterol) while decreasing triglycerides. This keeps your blood flowing smoothly by lowering the buildup of plaque in your arteries. Overall it increases resistance to various diseases by bolstering the immune system.

benefits of regular exercise

Improves psychological well-being - Regular exercise improves your mood and reduces the likelihood of depression and anxiety. Physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals (endorphins) that usually leave you feeling happier and more relaxed. You will not only feel better but look better when you exercise regularly which, in turn, boosts confidence and self-esteem. You derive self-confidence both from looking great by being toned and fit and from knowing that you put in the work and effort to get there.

Increases your energy levels - Physical activity delivers oxygen and nutrients to your tissues. It helps the cardiovascular system work more efficiently by circulating blood through your heart and blood vessels. When your heart and lungs work more efficiently, you'll have more energy to do the things you enjoy.

Helps you manage your weight - Needless to say when you engage in physical activity, you burn calories. When you burn more calories than you take in, you lose weight. Even taking the stairs instead of the elevator, walking during your lunch break, or just moving around more can help add to your exercise output.

Promotes better sleep - Regular exercise helps you fall asleep faster and into a more deep sleep. Sleep is brought on by chemicals released in your body which are a by-product of your body burning sugar for fuel during the day. The more sugar you burn through exercise and physical activity, the more of these chemicals are released, thus helping you sleep better and deeper. Regular exercise also improves the transition between the cycles and phases of sleep and they become smoother and more regular. Ultimately, your productivity,  mood and concentration are greatly enhanced when you are well-rested.

Other Benefits of Regular Exercise

  • Helps maintain and increase muscle strength, improves balance, coordination, reaction time and flexibility; can even improve mental concentration.
  • Prevents muscle decay. Inactive people lose muscle fiber at a rate of 3% to 5% every decade after age 30 which amounts to a loss of 30% of muscle fiber by age 60.
  • Reduces incidence of many illnesses.
  • Research suggests that regular exercise can reduce the risk of colon cancer by as much as 50% and may considerably reduce the risk of breast cancer.
  • Relieves symptoms of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis and therefore reduces the need for medication.
  • Helps control hypertension, high blood cholesterol and diabetes.
  • Reduces the risk of accidental injury and shortens the recovery period from accident and illness.

Tips for Getting Regular Exercise

✔ Before you begin any exercise routine, especially if you've been inactive for a long time, or are over 40 years old, be sure to consult your doctor. Also, never continue an activity or exercise if you feel persistent or severe muscle or joint pain, chest pain, or if you become exhausted. Again consult your doctor. doctor.

✔ The type of exercise is not as important as just getting into a consistent routine. It can be comprised of aerobic or strength training, but preferably a combination of the two. Even thirty minutes a day of moderate exercise, such as a brisk walk can be very helpful and provide health benefits.

✔ You can start small and build up to more. A less intense objective will help you build physical activity into your daily routine more easily. Incorporate as much as you can slowly - by parking further from the office, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, and by walking instead of driving whenever you can.

✔ To stay healthy, aim to exercise between four to seven days each week. The total amount of time can be broken down in periods of not less than 10 minutes each. However, the longer the period of physical activity, the more beneficial it is to your health. Take into account  that very intense activities burn more calories in a shorter time span than do low-intensity activities. Remember to stay hydrated.

✔ As we already now know, exercise improves mood, but new research suggests that working out to music, as well as providing fun and motivation, may give exercisers a cognitive boost. Charles Emery, professor of psychology at Ohio State University, has conducted a study on the combination of music and exercise and states: "Listening to music may influence cognitive function through different pathways in the brain. The combination of music and exercise may stimulate and increase cognitive arousal while helping to organize cognitive output."

All the wonderful benefits aside never has it been more important to establish a routine of regular exercise than in today's increasingly sedentary world. Technology is great, but it is not a substitute for physical activity!

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