Exercise And Health
Exercise and health have long been proven to have a close beneficial relationship. However, many people are less active nowadays, partly
because technology has made our lives easier. We drive cars or take public transport. We entertain ourselves in front of a TV or computer screen.
We move around less and burn off less energy than people used to. Research suggests that many adults spend more than seven hours a day sitting down, at work, on transport or in their leisure time. There is increasing evidence that inactivity and lack of exercise has adverse effects on health in the long term. So why is exercise so important, and how can we ensure we do enough of it given our hectic lives? Here we explain the top health benefits of exercise, and explore some of our favourite activities.
Benefits of Exercise and Heath
- Health Conditions or Diseases
Worried about heart disease? Hoping to prevent high blood pressure? No matter what your current weight, being active boosts high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or “good”, cholesterol and decreases unhealthy triglycerides. This keeps your blood flowing smoothly, which decreases your risk of cardiovascular diseases. In fact, regular physical activity can help you prevent or manage a wide range of health problems and concerns, including stroke, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, depression, certain types of cancer, arthritis and falls.
- Weight Control
Exercise can help prevent excess weight gain or help maintain weight loss. When you engage in physical activity, you burn calories. The more intense the activity, the more calories you burn. You don’t need to set aside large chunks of time for exercise to reap weight-loss benefits. If you can’t do an actual workout, get more active throughout the day in simple ways — by taking the stairs instead of the elevator, walking instead of driving where possible, or revving up your household chores.
- Improves Mood and Reduces Stress
One of the most common mental benefits of exercise is stress relief. Working up a sweat can help manage physical and mental stress. Exercise also increases concentrations of norepinephrine, a chemical that can moderate the brain’s response to stress. Exercise also releases endorphins, which create feelings of happiness and euphoria. Studies have shown that exercise can even alleviate symptoms among the clinically depressed. So go ahead and get sweaty – working out can reduce stress, boost the body’s ability to deal with mental tension, and instantly boost overall mood.
- Improves Self-Confidence
On a very basic level, physical fitness can boost self-esteem and improve positive self-image. Regardless of weight, size, gender or age, exercise can quickly elevate a person’s perception of his or her attractiveness or self-worth. You may also feel better about your appearance and yourself when you exercise regularly, which can boost your confidence and improve your self-esteem.
- Increases Relaxation and Promotes Better Sleep
Struggling to fall asleep? Or to stay asleep? Regular physical activity can help you fall asleep faster and deepen your sleep.
- Exercise and Healthy Brains
Exercise can prevent cognitive decline, boost brainpower and sharpen memory. As aging and degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s kill off brain cells, the brain actually shrinks, losing many important brain functions in the process. While exercise and a healthy diet can’t cure Alzheimer’s, they can help shore up the brain against cognitive decline that begins after age 45. Various studies on mice and men have shown that cardiovascular exercise can create new brain cells and improve overall brain performance. Regular physical activity also boosts memory and the ability to learn new things.
- Improves Circulation
Proper blood circulation plays a vital role in general health. The bloodstream continuously transports oxygen and nutrients to the brain, skin, and vital organs in the body. When your circulation is reduced, various diseases such as varicose veins, kidney disease, and even stroke may occur. However, exercise plays a vital role in improving blood circulation. Regardless of your age or physical abilities, regular exercise to promote circulation has beneficial effects. Improving and maintaining blood circulation builds a strong heart muscle and also improves the efficiency of your body, ensuring that both the arms and legs receive oxygen and other vital nutrients.
- Exercise and Healthy Skin
Regular exercise is one of the keys to healthy skin. By increasing blood flow, exercise helps nourish skin cells and keep them vital. In addition to providing oxygen, blood flow also helps carry away waste products, including free radicals, from working cells. By increasing blood flow, a bout of exercise helps flush cellular debris out of the system – think of it as cleansing your skin from the inside. Exercise has also been shown to ease stress, and by decreasing stress, some conditions that can be exacerbated by stress can show some improvement, such as acne and eczema.
Our Favourite Exercise And Health Activities
Exercise and health evidently have a very clear beneficial link. Exercise does not have to involve Olympic-levels of skill, or require you to dedicate hours every day to it. The benefits of exercise are yours for the taking, regardless of your age, sex or physical ability.
- Walking and Cycling
For most of us, the easiest way to get moving is to incorporate physical activity into our everyday lives, such as walking or cycling instead of using the car. Daily activities such as walking or riding a bicycle strengthen and enlarge the heart muscle, improving the pumping efficiency and thereby improving circulation.
- Other Cardio Activities
Apart from walking or cycling, if you are looking for activity at a higher intensity so that you can reap greater benefits, try running, swimming, kickboxing, or skipping rope, to name a few.
- Yoga and Pilates
Yoga and Pilates might not seem like high intensity workouts, but they bring multiple benefits for circulation, stress-relief, anxiety-alleviation, physical flexibility and mindfulness.
- Enjoy the Great Outdoors
If the idea of working out in a gym turns you off, try taking that workout outside. Find an outdoor workout that fits your style, whether it’s rock-climbing, hiking, kayaking, or just taking a jog in the park. Plus, all that Vitamin D acquired from soaking up the sun (while wearing sunscreen, of course) can lessen the likelihood of experiencing depressive symptoms.
The Bottom Line
Exercise and physical activity can be fun. It gives you a chance to unwind, enjoy the outdoors or simply engage in activities that make you happy. At the same time, you can reap the many health benefits that exercise offers. Physical activity can also help you connect with family or friends in a fun social setting. Find a physical activity you enjoy, and start noticing the difference it makes.