Do you feel lethargic most part of the day? Have you ever felt the need to do something that can keep you upbeat and excited all day long? Then physical exercise is the key. But then, how many of us do it every day?
Physical exercise is one of the most important habits anyone needs to inculcate, because the benefits it offers are immense. Would you like to know more? Read on!
Benefits Of Physical Exercise:
Moderate physical activity can be a boon especially if you are starting off from scratch. We do not advise you to start intensive workouts at the very outset. This can put you at risk, rather than enhancing your health. Starting off intensive workouts before your body is ready can lead to joint pains (1), sprains, muscles stress and even cardiac events.
We suggest that you take professional advice before starting even a moderate physical exercise programme if:
- You are over 45 years.
- You have pain in your chest during exercising.
- You experience dizziness and/or fainting spells.
- You experience breathlessness even after moderate physical exercise.
- You are pregnant.
Pre- exercise screening can be availed of at your physiotherapists’ and even doctors clinics. This acts as a safety net that prevents any harm to your body while exercising.
If you get the go-ahead for starting on a moderate exercise regime, hop on the exercise bandwagon and enjoy the benefits.
[ Read: Warm Up Exercises Before Cardio ]
Moderate physical exercise can be super healthy for you because of the following reasons:
1. Helps Control Your Weight:
Who doesn’t want to lose weight or to maintain an ideal body weight for an entire lifespan? We all know that the right diet and physical exercise regime can help you with both. Exercise can help you burn off extra calories. These calories are the ones that are responsible for you piling on the extra kilos, one pizza a time.
So what do you do to maintain your weight? You can start by walking as it is the safest physical activity. Walking does not harm your body in any way. It is healthy for your joints, heart and muscles. You can make walking more intensive by increasing the pace and duration of your walk. Aerobic exercises and playing games can be the next on your list. This can help you by keeping your weight constant. We suggest that you do at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise every day to stay healthy and to maintain your weight. And you can accomplish this by simply being more active at home.
If you can’t join yoga classes or gym every day, just get more active throughout the day — take the stairs instead of the lift or fire your housemaid and clean your house instead of watching TV.
However, if you want to lose weight, just brisk walking for 30 minutes a day will not do the job. You will have to work up some sweat doing aerobics and also cut down on fats and calories to trim the flab.
2. Reduces Your Risk Of Cardiovascular Disease:
Moderate exercise cuts down on the risk of both heart disease and stroke, leading causes of death. Just 150 minutes a week of moderate exercise can lower your risk for these 2 killers.
Regular physical activity can also lower elevated blood pressure and also get your rampant cholesterol levels back in control keeping your heart healthy.
3. Reduces Your Risk For Type 2 Diabetes And Metabolic Syndrome:
We all know that regular physical activity can bring down blood sugar levels and thus lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes and also metabolic syndrome (2). Metabolic syndrome is an extremely dangerous condition where you can have a combination of too much abdominal fat, high BP, low good or HDL cholesterol, high triglyceride levels responsible for heart disease, and high blood sugar.
Research shows that regular exercise lowers your propensity to suffer from diabetes and metabolic syndrome after just 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise. You can reduce your risk further by increasing the time of physical activity.
If you already suffer from diabetes, regular exercise will help you control your blood glucose levels and prevent damage to your vital organs.
4. Reduces Cancer Risks:
Being physically active can keep you safe from breast and colon cancer. Research shows that people who regularly exercise have lower risks of colon cancer as compared to sedentary people. Similarly, physically active women carry lower risks of breast cancer.
There are linkages between endometrial (3) and lung cancer too. Although the research is not yet over, few findings suggest that if you regularly exercise your risk of endometrial cancer and lung cancer may be lower.
5. Strengthens Bones And Muscles:
Osteoporosis is common in post menopausal women because in absence of optimum levels of the hormone estrogen which protects bones (4), the bones start leaching out calcium. This makes bones weak and fragile and can lead to fractures and breakages of bones due to small injuries. Research shows that women can lower their risk for osteoporosis through regular exercise. Even moderate exercises like walking and swimming protect women from osteoporosis.
Evidence also suggests that older people in general benefit the most from doing moderate muscle and bone strengthening activity daily. Oldies that do about 130 min. moderate aerobic exercise have a lower risk of hip fractures, a life altering condition for older adults. Regular exercise can also help you manage pain due to arthritis and other conditions affecting the joints.
6. Builds Strong, Healthy Muscles:
Exercise especially weight training increases and maintain muscle mass. You must have noticed that as we age, we kind of shrink. We lose both height and girth. This can be attributed to muscle shrinkage. Exercise can take care of this effectively. This helps you to maintain proper balance and prevent falls as you age.
7. Keeps You Happier:
Exercise is the best bulwark against mental diseases like depression. Regular exercise releases mood enhancing endorphins into the blood stream which help keep the blues away (5).
Endorphins trigger a happy feeling in your body, similar to that of morphine. Ask runners and they describe a “euphoric” feeling after a workout. That’s their endorphins speaking. This is also known as a “runner’s high,” and can be accompanied by a positive outlook on life.
Endorphins act as analgesics, which mean that they reduce pain. They also act as sedatives.
This is perhaps the main reason that regular exercise has been proven to reduce stress levels and ward off anxiety and feelings of depression.
Physical activity is very good for the brain too. This is the reason that when low, it’s always better to go for a stroll, preferably in a garden.
You may also feel good and more confident about the way you look and about yourself in general when you exercise regularly as physical activity improves your self-esteem.
Exercising with others in a gym or yoga studio also boosts social contact and this is vital for alleviating symptoms of depression. And if you have less aches and pains, it also improves your outlook and mood, doesn’t it?
8. Life Saver For The Oldies:
Exercising is the single biggest gift you can give yourself if you are over 50 years. You can prevent lethal falls, improve balance, improve your functional abilities that help you carry on doing the day-to-day chores like as climbing stairs, cooking, shopping etc. You will experience lower risk of functional limitations if you exercise than people who are inactive.
9. Increases Life Span:
If you want to be alive till the age of 100, exercise may be your best bet. Exercise prevents cancers, heart disease and diabetes. Just 30 minutes of moderate activity like brisk walking can cut down on the risk of you dying prematurely. Just think about that!
10. Energy Booster:
If you feel winded by just taking a round in your colony park, it may be a sign that you may be missing out on proper exercise. Regular exercise improves your muscle tone and strength, and also boosts your endurance levels. This happens because exercise increases the delivery of vital oxygen to cells for conversion into energy. Exercise also helps your cardiovascular system to work more efficiently. When your heart and lungs work in tandem, you naturally have more energy to do work, think and memorize.
11. Helps With Sleep:
Insomniacs, try exercising more. Regular physical activities can do both- help you fall asleep faster and deepen your sleep. But, don’t exercise close to bed time as this will energize you rather than soothe you.
12. Revs Up Your Sex Life:
Well, if your sex life is going steadily downhill, lack of physical activity may be to blame. Remember, sex needs active muscles too. Exercising regularly will ensure that your energy levels are high and you feel better about yourself. This helps increase intimacy. But that’s not all! Physical activity can lead to enhanced sexual arousal in women and men who exercise regularly have less erectile dysfunction than sedentary men.
[ Read: 15 Health Benefits Of Walking ]
13. Exercise Is Fun:
Exercise is seriously fun. Just find the kind of exercise that is most interesting for you. If you are an outdoors person, exercise in a park. If you like to exercise in an AC environment, visit a gym or aerobics studio. Take a dance class, go for treks and hikes or play cricket. Don’t sit around watching TV, find a physical activity you enjoy, and do it. Switch to something else, if you get bored. Exercise is also a great way to connect with friends and family as you can go for picnics or treks together.
So, each one of you can gain the health benefits of physical exercises whatever your age, fitness level, sex, shape, size or colour.
Just aim to do 30 minutes of exercise a day. This should be your mantra for ensuring a healthier life. And we also have the Australian Government’s Physical Activity Guidelines reiterating the same (6).
It also is found that doing some physical exercise is better than doing none. So if you are not doing any physical activity right now, this should motivate you to get up and go for a brisk 30 minute walk around your block, for starters. If you can’t force yourself to do this, start with a 15 minute walk and build up to 30 minutes of walking every day. The key to good health is being active each day of your life.
If you have arthritis, cardiovascular disease or any other problem, you can still exercise and we want to make it clear that this will be beneficial for you, provided you work arm in arm with your doctor. Just avoid being inactive.
But what do you do if you are in a sedentary job? Take a break every 20 minutes or so as your life depends on it. This will also work as an antidote to stress and keep postural strains and injuries at bay.
And don’t stop at just 30 minutes of activity – build up to more intensive and longer workouts. Try to incorporate 3 hours of vigorous physical activity every week. This can include jogging, Ashtanga or Power yoga, weight training, Pilates, or a combination of both moderate and vigorous activities, each week. We recommend muscle strengthening activities for seniors and ladies on at least 2 days each week.
Now that you know the importance of physical exercise in your daily life, make it a regular habit. The ways to increase activity is to make small changes throughout your day, such as walking or cycling instead of using the car, getting off the bus, train or metro a stop earlier and walking the rest of the way home, or even walking your kids to school.
Please do tell us if you found this article helpful and don’t forget to share the physical exercise benefits right here in the comments section. As usual, we are listening!
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