Powerful Reasons To Exercise
Some exercise is better than none; more exercise is generally better than less, and no exercise can be disastrous.
by eMedExpert staff
Medical references reviewed: August, 2018
We all unconsciously know that exercise is good for us. It is fair to say that everyone wants to be healthy. At the same time, it is probably equally fair to say that most of us are not exercising enough. You can find a number of tips, tricks and hacks on how to get motivation to do just about everything, including exercising.
The main incentive that can make you start exercising is overall health improvement. But what exactly exercise can do for you? Here is the list of scientifically proven health benefits the regular exercise brings.
It is never late to begin exercising5. Regular physical activity provides benefits to men and women of all ages.
2 New brain cells development
Exercise stimulates the formation of new brain cells (neurons)6,7. Also, exercise strengthens connections between those cells. The areas of the brain that are stimulated through exercise are associated with memory and learning.
Researches from the Netherlands found that decline in cognitive functioning is associated with a higher mortality risk3
3 Cognitive and mental function enhancement
Physical activity improves cognitive performance, information processing and may delay cognitive impairment and dementia1,2. For instance, older people who are involved in regular physical work, excercise or other activity perform better in tests which require them to use their memory, solve prolems and make decisions.
And what about children? University of Illinois researchers8,9 have found that physical activity may enhance the academic achievements of children by improving their attention and working memory skills.
Lack of physical activity is one of the major risk factors for cardiovascular diseases
4 Prevention of cardiovascular disease
There is a direct relation between lack of physical activity and death from cardiovascular disease10.
Regular physical activity makes your heart, like any other muscle, stronger. A stronger heart can pump more blood with less effort. Regular exercise protects from heart disease by lowering blood pressure, increasing levels of good HDL cholesterol, reducing levels of bad LDL cholesterol, and preventing blood clots formation.
In a long-term Swedish study women and men who were physically active at least twice a week had a 41% lower risk of developing coronary heart disease than those who performed no physical activity11.
5 Cholesterol lowering effect
Physical exercise positively alters cholesterol metabolism by increasing the production and action of several enzymes in the muscles and liver that function to convert some of the cholesterol to a more favorable form, such as HDL-cholesterol.
6 Prevention and control of type 2 diabetes
There is strong evidence14,15 (e.g. Finnish Diabetes Prevention Study and the Diabetes Prevention Program in the USA) that moderate physical activity combined with weight loss and balanced diet can reduce the risk risk of developing diabetes in high-risk individuals by 50-60%.
People with impaired glucose regulation may delay the onset of type 2 diabetes or prevent it altogether by doing regular physical excercise as it is improves their insulin resistance and glucose tolerance.
7 Blood pressure lowering
The ways by which exercise can cause a reduction in blood pressure are unclear, but all forms of exercise seem to be effective in reducing blood pressure. Regular exercise decreases blood pressure in approximately 75% of hypertensive persons with an average decrease of 11 and 8 Hg mm for systolic and diastolic blood pressure respectively17.
Regular exercise may decrease blood pressure in overweight and obese persons even without changes in body weight. Aerobic exercise produces slightly greater blood pressure lowering effect in people with hypertension than in people with normal blood pressure.
Low physical activity increases the risk of hypertension16.
8 Prevention of neoplastic (cancer) diseases
9 Reduced risk of stroke
Research data indicates that moderate and high levels of physical activity may reduce the risk of total, ischemic, and hemorrhagic strokes20.
This is extremely important for people aged 40 and more, as stroke risk may be lowered by as much as 50 percent in people who engage in regular physical activity and as a result have better physical function. Stroke risk reduction is relative to people who have problems with usual activities like klimbing stairs, kneeling, or bending.
10 Weight control
Regular physical activity helps to reach and maintain a healthy weight. If you take in more calories than needed in a day, exercise offsets a caloric overload and controls body weight. It speeds the rate of energy use, resulting in increased metabolism. When metabolism increases through exercise, you will maintain the faster rate for longer periods of a day.
11 Muscle strength
Clinical studies21 repeatedly show that strength training increases muscle strength and decreases body fat.
12 Attractive body
With perfect body you look better in clothes and you look better naked. Exercise helps reduce body fat by building muscle mass. Both resistance and aerobic exercise improve body composition even without dieting22.
13 Bone strength
An active lifestyle benefits bone density. Regular weight-bearing exercise promotes bone formation, delays bone loss and may protect against osteoporosis (form of bone loss associated with aging)23.
14 Strong immune system
Regular moderate exercise training is beneficial for immune function. The findings from some studies support the possibility that exercise may delay immunosenescence (age dependent decline in immune function)24.
15 Better night sleep
If you suffer from poor sleep, daily exercise can make the difference. The natural dip in body temperature five to six hours after exercise may help to fall asleep. Researches from the Stanford University School of Medicine25 found that regular exercise provides improvement in general quality of sleep, quicker sleep-onset, longer sleep duration and feeling rested in the morning.
16 Better sex life
Regular exercise maintains or improves sex life. Physical improvements in muscle strength and tone, endurance, body composition and cardiovascular function can all enhance sexual functioning in both men and women. Men who exercise regularly are less likely to have erectile dysfunction and impotence26.
17 Back pain remedy
Regular physical excercise is a good method to prevent back pain. It makes your muscles stronger and more flexible, and improves your postore.
High quality studies27 prove that exercise is effective for recurrent low back pain.
18 Stress management
Physical activity stimulates release of chemicals called endorphins. Endorphinss give you a feeling of happiness and positively affect your overall sense of well-being.
19 Alternative to antidepressants
Study after study has shown that exercise promotes mental health and reduces symptoms of depression28,29. The antidepressant effect of regular physical exercise is comparable to the potent antidepressants.
According to research about 30 minutes of exercise per day for 3-5 days per week can significantly improve symptoms of depression.
However, smaller amounts of activity (as little as 10 to 15 minutes at a time) have been shown to improve mood in the short term.
Severe, exhaustive exercise delays gastric emptying, interferes with gastrointestinal absorption, and may provoke heartburn and gastrointestinal bleeding.
20 Gastrointestinal tract benefits
Exercise is beneficial for persons suffering from cholelithiasis and constipation. Physical activity may reduce the risk of diverticulosis, gastrointestinal haemorrhage, and inflammatory bowel disease31.
21Therapy for postmenopausal women
High-intensity exercise significantly reduces negative changes related to the menopausal transition30.
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Last updated: January 03, 2018