Most people know that exercise is important. However, it does more for our health than people realise. Exercise offers incredible benefits that can improve nearly every aspect of your health from inside to out that our bodies will thank us for further down the line.
1. EXERCISE CAN HELP WITH FAT LOSS
It is highly known that inactivity is something that contributes to weight gain and obesity. In order to better understand how exercise can play a part in reducing body fat, we first need to understand the concept of energy expenditure.
Let's picture the body as an old fashioned seesaw you find in a children's play park . A person is sat on one side called CALORIES IN. This the amount of energy (calories) that enters the body through what we eat and drink. There is also someone sat on the other side CALORIES OUT. This is the amount of energy (calories) that is spent through digesting food, exercising and general processes the body continues to do day to day, for example breathing. Now when someone who is heavier (pardon the pun) is sitting on the CALORIES IN side of the seesaw, the seat will drop to the ground. This is when weight gain occurs. The seesaw is no longer balanced like it was before anyone got on it.
So what benefits does exercise have in combatting this?
A very common choice is fad dieting. Fat diet is a term used to describe a plan where you usually eat a very restrictive diet with few foods or an unusual combination of foods for a short period of time. Examples of common fad diets include; Low carb, Detox diet, Cabbage diet or Juice diet. In essence you're starving yourself. However, reducing calories on its own could lower your metabolism therefore can slow or delay the fat loss process. Similarly there are adverse effects to fad diets such as fatigue, reduced productivity, low mood, craving and then overindulging (the yoyo effect). This isn't good for your health either.
Instead look to tackle both ends of the seesaw. Increasing the amount of regular exercise has been shown to increase metabolic rate, helping you spend more calories. This places a heavier emphasis on the CALORIES OUT end of the seesaw. That in combination with reducing your food consumption safely impacting on the CALORIES IN side of the seesaw. In turn you'll see the seesaw move in the opposite direction and the way you want it to. Further still the combination of resistance training, aerobic training and increasing muscle mass has been shown to help improve fat loss which is a key component in keeping weight off.
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2. IT'S GOOD FOR YOUR BODY - JOINTS, BONES AND MUSCLES
Exercise is an important contributor towards building and maintaining strong muscles and bones.
Regular exercise can stimulate muscle growth. Muscle growth and improvements in strength can make daily tasks easier. As we age regular exercise can also reduce muscle mass lost, this helps to maintain our ability to complete daily tasks with age, maintaining independence for longer.
Physical activity helps to develop peak bone mass whilst we develop, roughly up to the age of 30. As we age, regular exercise benefits our bodies by maintaining bone mass as well as reducing the rate bone mass is lost with age. Strength training in particular can play an important role in slowing bone mass loss. Regular exercise also improves co-ordination and balance, this will help reduce the risk of falls and bone fractures. This becomes more vital with age as risk of falling increases and onset of conditions such as osteoporosis.
3. IT CAN REDUCE YOUR RISK OF DISEASE
A sedentary lifestyle could very well be among the 10 leading causes of death and disability in the world, with Inactivity increasing the risk of heart disease costing the NHS around £1.2bn each year.
With this in mind, regularly completing bouts of physical activity provides vast improvements to our body’s ability to function. Some of these include improvements in lung capacity; overall cardiac function meaning more blood can travel around the body with each heartbeat. Exercise has also seen to improve the immune system, decreasing the risk of infections, improve insulin sensitivity, increases HDL (good cholesterol) which improves blood pressure and many more benefits.
So what does this mean?
The health benefits of incorporating regular exercise into your lifestyle include drastically reducing the risk of many diseases and conditions. Physical activity can reduce the risk of type II diabetes by up to 40%, cardiovascular disease by 35%, joint and back pain by 25% and some cancers such as colon and breast cancer by 20%.
4. IT CAN MAKE YOU FEEL HAPPIER
It has been known that exercise can improve mood states. During exercise the synaptic channels open, this increases the amount hormones such as serotonin and dopamine that can transmit. These hormones help stabilize the body’s mood, well-being and feelings of happiness.
Also during exercise the chemicals also known as endorphins are produced and transmitted around the body to help reduce the feelings of stress and pain. This positively affects a person’s mood and can provide a sense of relief.
Therefore regular exercise can help to sustain a more positive state of mind reducing the risk of stress, anxiety and depression. Exercise can also act as a method of distraction from negative thoughts or worries. Finally exercise can quite often have a social element to it, socialisation can reduce isolation and improve a persons state of happiness.
5. IT CAN BOOST YOUR ENERGY LEVELS
It sounds a bit backwards doesn't it? Moving more (which is tiring) gives you more energy? Exercise can help reduce the feeling of low energy and fatigue; furthermore exercise can in fact increase people’s energy levels. There are many different mechanisms that play a role in increasing your energy levels through exercise. Most of these occur at a cellular level. For instance mitochondria (energy cells) are found all around the body but there are lots of them within muscles, supplying them with the energy to contact and for us to move. The more mitochondria you have the larger energy supply you have available. How do you increase the amount of mitochondria? Through exercise, more importantly training the muscles during resistance training.
Exercising also increases your circulation (blood going around your body), increasing the oxygen going around your body also. This supports the mitochondria to produce more energy and also allows your body to be more efficient with its energy production. Finally during exercise, your body releases hormones like endorphins that make you feel more energised.
6. IT CAN HELP YOU SLEEP AND RELAX
Regular exercise can help us relax and sleep better. In fact a lack of exercise can mean your body is not tired enough to need much sleep thus increasing the likelihood of sleep disorders. This can impact sleep quality. Exercise during the day can make us feel more tired at bedtime so it’s important to implement some form of exercising part of a daily routine. A study found that 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous activity per week could provide up to a 65% improvement in sleep quality.
7. IT CAN IMPROVE SKIN HEALTH
Our skin can be affected by the amount of oxidative stress in your body.
Oxidative stress refers to an imbalance of free radicals and antioxidants within the body, if there’s a prolonged imbalance this can cause damage to certain cells causing our skin to deteriorate. Over time further damage to other cells can contribute towards various conditions including diabetes, atherosclerosis, parkinson’s, alzheimer’s and certain types of cancer.
Regular moderate exercise can increase our body’s production of antioxidants thus helping to achieve the balance between free radicals and antioxidants and aids in protecting the skin. It’s important to add that intense and exhaustive physical activity could contribute to oxidative damage.
Similarly to how exercise can stimulate blood flow, exercise can lead skin cells to adapt which can help delay the appearance of skin aging.
Overall moderate exercise can provide antioxidant protection for your skin and help delay signs of aging.
8. IT CAN REDUCE PAIN
Chronic pain is usually associated with longer-term periods of pain quite often going beyond normal healing time. Some conditions associated with chronic pain include rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, lower back pain, fibromyalgia, patellofemoral pain and spinal cord injury. It can have a huge effect on an individual’s health as it can cause sleep disturbances, anxiety and overall poorer quality of life.
Over many years recommended treatment would be to rest. Now however, exercise could in fact reduce pain severity, improve function and quality of life.
Additionally, physical activity can also raise pain tolerance and decrease pain perception.
9. IT CAN IMPROVE MEMORY AND BRAIN HEALTH
To start off, exercise increases your heart rate, which promotes the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain. It can also stimulate the production of hormones that can enhance the growth of brain cells.
As previously mentioned exercise helps reduce other conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease. These conditions have been shown to cause brain dysfunction and neurodegeneration, negatively impacting brain health. Regularly exercising not only drastically reduces the likelihood of developing such conditions it promotes optimal brain function.
As life expectancy increases we are all living longer and as such an increase in dementia and brain function is also occurring. Research shows that exercise helps preserve cognitive performance in older adults.
Exercise can improve brain function and protect memory and thinking skills.
10. IT CAN HELP PROMOTE A BETTER SEX LIFE
Exercise can help boost your sex drive.
Participating in regular exercise can improve the cardiovascular system including improved blood circulation. Exercise can also tone muscles and enhance flexibility all of which can aid your sex life.
Physical activity can improve sexual performance and sexual pleasure, as well as increase the frequency of sexual activity.
More strenuous exercise including boot camps, sprinting and weight training has seen to increase the frequency of orgasms in woman in there 40s.
One study found that exercise such as walking routines could help reduce erectile dysfunction symptoms by 71%.
Overall exercise can help improve sexual desire, function and performance in both men and women. It can also help decrease the risk of erectile dysfunction in men.
Exercise offers incredible benefits that can improve nearly every aspect of our health from inside to out.
Regular physical activity can increase the production of hormones that make us feel happier and help us sleep better.
It can also improve our skin’s appearance, help with fat loss and more importantly, keep it off. Exercise can lessen the risk of chronic disease and improve individuals sex life.
If you opt to exercise regularly, inevitably you will improve your health in many ways.
If you're seeking help with starting your health transformation then Try How To Start Your Fitness Journey.
Feel free to ask any questions you may have in the comments section.