We all know that exercise is important in our daily lives, but we may not know why or what exercise can do for us. Regular exercise can help protect you from heart disease and stroke, high blood pressure, noninsulin-dependent diabetes, obesity, back pain, osteoporosis, and can improve your mood and help you to better manage stress and exercise can make you look great – younger, fitter and thinner.Regular physical activity can improve your sex life, decrease your cancer risk, make your skin glow and more.The health benefits of regular exercise and physical activity are hard to ignore. And the benefits of exercise are yours for the taking, regardless of your age, sex or physical ability.
Here’s a summary of the proven health benefits of daily exercise.
Reduces stress, depression and anxiety
One of the most common mental benefits of exercise is stress relief. Regular exercise can definitely help you relax and make you feel better, keeping anxiety and depression from coming back.When you exercise, neurotransmitters and endorphins that ease depression are released. Plus, you raise your body temperature, which has been shown to calm nerves.
Exercise controls weight
Research has shown that to manage weight, you should exercise energetically for at least 30 minutes a day. When you engage in physical activity, you burn calories. The more intense the activity, the more calories you burn.Be consistent and be regular. Do those one-hour exercise sessions three to four times every week, not just one week a month, and you will achieve the result you desire – to lose weight and keep it off.
Exercise is good for your heart
Exercise reduces LDL cholesterol, the kind that clogs arteries. It also reduces your blood pressure, relieving stress on your heart; improves your insulin sensitivity; improves heart muscle function; and blood flow and diminishes the chances of developing blood clots.
Exercise and the brain
Exercise helps memory and thinking through both direct and indirect means. The benefits of exercise come directly from its ability to reduce insulin resistance, reduce inflammation, and stimulate the release of growth factors chemicals in the brain that affect the health of brain cells, the growth of new blood vessels in the brain, and even the abundance and survival of new brain cells.Most importantly, exercise plays an important role in neuroplasticity by boosting growth factors and stimulating new neuronal connections.
- Exercise may act as a temporary diversion to daily stresses.
Exercise provides an opportunity for social interaction that may otherwise be lacking in an individual’s life.
Exercise provides an opportunity for self-mastery. Increasing fitness or improving body composition and other health parameters may improve an individual’s self-esteem.
Increased core temperature during exercise may lead to reduced muscle tension or alterations to brain neurotransmitters.
Mood improvements may occur due to the increased secretion of endogenous (internal) opiates e.g. endorphins
Psychological changes may occur due to alterations in norepinephrine, dopamine and serotonin, all hormones which can affect mood and anxiety level.
Exercise enhances your immune system
Exercise improves your body’s ability to pump the oxygen and nutrients around your body that are required to fuel the cells that fight bacteria and viruses.
Exercise may help to reduce the risk of certain cancers
Being fit may mean that the risks of colon cancer, breast cancer and possibly also lung and endometrial cancers are reduced. Studies by the Seattle Cancer Research Centre have suggested that 35% of all cancer deaths are linked to being overweight and sedentary.Exercise is believed to speed the passage of food through the colon, thereby reducing the amount of time that any toxins are in contact with the body. Overweight people also tend to have more insulin, which promotes the growth of tumours. For women, exercise reduces the level of oestrogen, a hormone linked to breast cancer.
Exercise reduces the severity of asthma
Many people who suffer from exercise-induced asthma, understandably try to avoid exercise. But sports medicine specialists say it’s possible for asthmatics to continue exercising if they use preventive medications wisely and avoid certain triggers that exacerbate attacks. Exercise-induced asthma can be made worse by cold, dry air or air containing high levels of pollen or pollutants. The extra effort made to stay fit pays off in fewer or milder asthma attacks overall and a need for less medication.
Exercise promotes a healthy pregnancy
Although exercise might be risky in some cases, the benefits of exercising during pregnancy generally far outweigh the risks and some women can even exercise up until the third trimester. Relaxation exercises, Kegel exercise that strengthen the pelvic muscles and back exercises are all important for pregnant women.
Exercise improves sleeping patterns
Exercise during the day promotes the onset and quality of sleep, according to the South African Memory Resource Centre. But you need to exercise at the right time: the ideal time for exercise is in the morning. Exercising late in the day can contribute to sleeplessness, because exercise causes an increase in your body’s energy.