The Benefits of Exercise
OK, We all know that exercise is beneficial. Most people would rather find something else to do than exercise. Why do we avoid exercise? Why do we start and then stop the exercise over and over again? We have even begun to change the name from "exercise" to "physical activity", because some study showed the word exercise was viewed negatively by most people.
So, if we know that exercise is good for us, why don't we include it in our day. We have 24 hours each day. Couldn't we find 30 minutes to exercise? If I told you that I know of a treatment that can reduce your risk of dying each year by nearly 50% and can reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer's disease by 72% would you want to take advantage of that? Well, the studies on exercise have shown those statistics to be valid.
The best way to convince someone to do something is to show them the benefits for their life. Let's look at the benefits to you if you add a modest amount of exercise to your week. Remember, exercise is something that must be started slowly and gradually and the older you are the more slow and gradual it should be. Slow progression of time and intensity of exercise can be used to avoid pain, strain, and to achieve greater metabolic function and a tighter, stronger body.
Regular exercise can Help Control your Weight. In combination with a reasonable diet, exercise is essential to avoiding excess body weight and the disease of obesity. If you currently are overweight, then exercise contributes greatly to enhancing our body's ability to burn more calories and increases the efficiency of calorie burning in doing so. Our body weight is related to the balance of calories taken in compared to the calories used up. Though we all may have variations in our rate of burning calories, exercise for us all will increase that ability.
Regular exercise can decrease blood pressure, lower blood fats and lipids, and reduce the risk of heart disease. Our heart and blood vessels are modified muscular tubes. Exercise strengthens both the heart and our blood vessels. During exercise we have an increase in blood flow through our body. The increased blood flow raises oxygen levels throughout our body. This enhanced oxygenation improves cell and organ function. Over time the heart and blood vessels cleanse themselves of damaged cells and grow new stronger cells allowing our body to reap the benefits of a stronger circulatory system.
Regular exercise clears out inflammation. Inflammation is the root cause of most diseases. As our body functions it creates waste products. This waste must be eliminated. Just as we go to the bathroom to eliminate waste from our body, each cell must eliminate waste in order to function at a high level. If waste backs up in the cells or blood then our tissues and organs can suffer the effect of this toxicity.
This waste accumulation is what creates inflammation. A diet high in sugar and bad fats causes increased inflammation. A sedentary lifestyle causes increased inflammation. Poor sleep causes increased inflammation. Stress causes increased inflammation. We must flush this inflammation from our body. Exercise, which increases circulation and pumps blood more rapidly through our organs flushes this inflammation from our cells and blood and drives it out through our filtering system which includes the lungs, kidneys, liver, spleen, lymphatics, and skin.
Reducing inflammation can reduce our development of heart disease, cancers, diabetes, kidney failure, liver failure, and even reduce the effects of aging on every aspect of our body. You get younger looking skin and a better looking body. Have you ever noticed that people who smoke age much more quickly in appearance? That's due to the decreased oxygen in the blood and high levels of inflammation that is created in the tissues including the skin. The bottom line is exercise will reduce and can reverse many of the negative effects of inflammation. A healthier and younger body along with an extended life are the direct benefits of exercise.
Exercise reduces blood sugar and insulin resistance. Insulin resistance causes fat production and fat storage in our body. It also makes us hungry and is a major contributor to weight gain. Over time, insulin resistance leads to Diabetes Type II and all of the negative effects of this disease. Insulin resistance develops when our body can no longer utilize the glucose (sugar) we are taking in. Our pancreas must produce higher and higher levels of insulin to keep our blood sugar within a tight range. This higher insulin level causes negative effects on our liver, fat tissue, and even down to the level of each cell that creates energy for us.
When we exercise we burn up excess glucose and tell our body to burn some fat. We use up the excess insulin and make our cells, tissues, and organs more efficient at using our fuels. Insulin levels drop and our body goes from storing fat to burning fat. Insulin resistance is a reversible metabolic disorder. When reversed we can reverse risk for Diabetes, Fatty Liver, Obesity, Heart disease, Stroke, and a myriad of other conditions.
Exercise improves our mental and emotional health. During exercise our body releases substances that improve our mood and make us feel more relaxed. This helps reduce our response to stress in our life. Exercise on a regular basis has been shown to be an effective treatment tool to improve or reduce the risk of developing depression.
Exercise improves our thinking, learning capacity, and judgement skills as we age. During and after exercise we create proteins or other transmitters that improve both the structure and function of our brain. Brain oxygen levels rise and brain inflammation decreases. Multiple specialists who have focused their entire lives on treating and studying dementia all agree that daily moderate exercise will reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer's and Vascular Dementia as we age.
Exercise can reduce the risk of developing some forms of cancer. These include lower risk for colon cancer, breast cancer, uterine cancer, and lung cancer. This is thought to occur due to improved blood flow to tissues, reduction of inflammation in tissues, and enhancement of our immune system to eliminate the start of abnormal cells.
Exercise can improve our sleep. When we are sedentary throughout the day, we do not expend much energy. When we haven't expended energy, our body requires less restoration. Over time this decreased need for sleep will cause poor sleep patterns, a change in our sleep timing, and poor sleep rhythm. This all leads to daytime fatigue and irritability in our mood. This can be corrected by regular exercise.
Exercise can improve sexual function. Studies have shown that regular exercise for men can dramatically reduce erectile dysfunction. Most erectile dysfunction is due to poor blood vessel health and reduced circulation. Exercise can reverse this issue. For women, exercise has been shown to increase sexual arousal.
Exercise can increase our chances of living longer. The goal in life is not just to live long. It's to be vibrant while we are alive. No one wants to live to 100 if the last 20 years are painful, disease ridden, and spent in a nursing facility. We want to live to 100 and be vibrant and independent. So, how much exercise do we need to reap the benefits?
Any exercise is beneficial. Even standing is better than sitting. To get to the point where we see the best results from exercise, we must slowly and gradually build up our exercise regimen to 150 minutes of moderate exercise weekly. That's 30 minutes five times a week. Moderate exercise requires a decent sweat to develop. It is a level where conversation can be had but is not easy. We must get our heart rate up and our breathing rate elevated and sustain that for over 20 minutes.
Most people cannot perform exercise at that level today. Interestingly, if a person can start a light walking program and monitor the steps, time, and speed of walking, over an 8 to 12 week period they can gradually increase the exercise intensity along with gaining more and more of the benefits I outlined today. If exercise is persistent and continues over a year, the results will be dramatic. It starts with a single step today. If you're unsure where to begin, ask someone who exercises or a trainer, but make sure they know you are a beginner or at least a re-starter. Take it slow, but make it steady.
The ultimate goal is to Live Lean, Live Long, and Live Your Life to the Fullest!