Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live in. Ever heard of this quote? It is one of the most powerful quotes used to encourage people to look after their being. What it implies is that one must treat themselves, and their body, with respect and dignity as one cannot simply get a new body if you ruin this one. So how can one take care of their body? Well, the answer is obvious. Exercise.
The health benefits of exercise are endless! Ranging from managing your weight to improving sleeping patterns, exercise is crucial to your body’s health.
Possibly the single most important benefit of exercise is the improvement of cardiovascular health. Cardiovascular health is the health of the heart and of the blood vessels within your body. When one does not exercise, potential cardiovascular health risks are increased massively. These risks include high blood pressure, heart disease and the risk of a stroke. About 610,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year that’s 1 in every 4 deaths! This is a statistic that could so easily be changed by regular exercise. Exercise improves cardiovascular health by helping the person maintain a healthy weight, improving the strength of the heart and lowering blood pressure.
Exercise provides another health benefit through weight maintenance or weight loss. Weight loss is a huge health benefit for anyone overweight or obese as it reduces the cardiovascular diseases – the ones that were discussed above – from affecting you. For example, when an overweight person begins to exercise on a regular basis, a number of health benefits take place. Blood pressure is reduced, cholesterol is lowered and blood clots are less likely to occur as there is less fat in the circulatory system. And the health benefit of exercise that everyone craves – fat loss! The weight loss that exercise creates leads to a reduction in fat percentage. So less belly fat, no more muffin top and jeans that fit! This health benefit makes one feel amazing, providing mental benefits as well as health benefits. Studies have shown that losing just 5 percent of your weight can decrease liver fat, visceral fat and total body fat. This can reduce your risk of diabetes and can improve your body’s metabolism.
Possibly one of the most underrated benefits of exercise is quality of sleep. Research has shown that a regular exercise pattern can boost the quality of sleep significantly. One study came to the conclusion that 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous-intensity exercise provided a 65% improvement in sleep quality. This helps the body to recover and improves focus and concentration to help you be more productive throughout the day. Having a good night’s sleep also reduces the production of the hormone ghrelin, which is the hormone that makes you hungry. Having a poor sleep schedule can disrupt the production of the hunger hormones ghrelin and leptin and can lead to weight gain, further emphasizing the health benefits of exercise.
One of the most well-known benefits of exercise is muscle growth. As you exercise your muscles increase in size and strength, giving a more toned and athletic look. This provides basic benefits such as being able to carry out functional tasks and improving your immune system. Having a substantial muscle mass also improves your resting metabolism because the more muscle you have, the more calories that are needed to maintain your body’s resting state. This helps in weight management and provides the health benefits associated with weight loss.
As well as increasing muscle mass, bone density is also improved. Having good bone density reduces your risk of bone-related diseases later on in life, such as arthritis and osteoporosis. Research has shown that the best types of exercise to improve bone density are weight training and plyometrics as it is the force of the muscles pulling on the bones that increase the bone density. So, the bigger the strain on the muscles, the faster bone density improves.
Many are unaware of this benefit however it is one of the most noticeable ones to those around you. For example, when someone says to you, Your skin is glowing’, what they are implying is that your skin is looking healthy. By exercising, blood flow is directed to your skin, and with this increase in blood flow comes more oxygen and nutrients to the surface of the skin. This flow of blood also removes waste products from the skin area as well, reducing acne and eczema. So, for clearer skin, forget all the expensive products – just get exercising!
There are many more benefits under the surface that are not seen but are felt by those partaking in exercise. These mental benefits are some of the most compelling reasons to take part in the exercise.
We are all aware of the good we feel after we exercise, right? We feel less stressed and more positive, ready to take on the day. This feel-good feeling is caused by the endorphins, a hormone that is released by your body after exercise. Often referred to as the runners high’, endorphins boost your confidence and have been shown to reduce stress and make you more sociable. This is considered a short-term mental health benefit, after all, everyone has to come down from that high. However, what if exercise improves mental health in a much deeper way than merely improving your day? New research is supporting the fact that regular exercise can reduce the chances of chronic mental illnesses. A total of 7 out of 10 adults in the United States have reported being stressed or anxious on a daily basis. As these new shocking statistics emerge, scientists are researching how to combat this stress epidemic. Studies show that this chronic anxiety felt by many across the country can be managed with the use of regular exercise as it enhances cognitive functions by increasing blood flow to the brain’s regions and helps one to concentrate better, reducing their procrastination and anxiety. Overall it makes one’s tasks seem more doable.
Depression is the most prevalent mental illness in the US, with 18 million adults being affected every year. Many studies have taken place in recent years to assess the effect exercise has on depression. Many seem to feel that it is temporary – caused by the endorphins released by the body. Recent results from studies indicate differently, however, showing that regular exercise can, in fact, change the composition of the brain! How can this be possible? Well, when you exercise there is an increased blood flow to certain regions in the brain improving the neuronal health of that region. As this neuronal health improves, neuron signaling and connections and neurohormones are improved. One of the regions that is improved with exercise is the hippocampus the area that controls emotional regulation. As neuronal health is improved in this region, the emotional regulation improves, along with that improvement, depression has been seen to decrease in these participants.
Okay, so we’ve covered the benefits of exercise! So now after reading these benefits, I bet you’re itching to work out but you probably have a few questions first, so we’re going to answer them.
There is no set workout limit; however, simply put, the more you workout, the more benefits you will reap. The recommended weekly amount of exercise is 150 minutes of low-moderate exercise or you could do 75 minutes of moderate-vigorous exercise. You may see minimal benefits if you exercise below this recommended amount but if you really want to see all the benefits mentioned above you should, at a minimum, hit this recommended amount. This may seem like a lot of exercises, however, if we break it down, it isn’t so bad. For example, that’s 15 minutes of moderate-vigorous exercise for 5 days of the week. That’s doable!
This answer is purely based on which of the benefits above you would like to see the most. For example, if someone would like to see an improved muscle mass or improved bone density, then weight/resistance training should be done the majority of the time. On the other hand, for someone who would like to see cardiovascular health improve – a mixture of cardio and resistance training will be a perfect match. It is important to stress however that no particular type of training should be ignored, a balance of all training should be carried out, regardless of the goal.
If you are someone who is very pushed for time, this is a question you may be asking. As we mentioned above, these benefits can be seen by condensing workouts down into 15-minute sessions for 5 days of the week. It is important to note that these sessions must be intense! The easiest way to get a short intense workout is the workout style HITT (High-Intensity Interval Training). These exercise workouts are easy to come by – there are plenty on YouTube – and they are also available for beginners to experts in the fitness world. There are options to get a workout done from home meaning that in between your busy schedule, you can squeeze in a workout to reap those benefits, from the comfort of your own home. There are no excuses!
In conclusion, the benefits that come from exercise are vast and crucial to improving your quality of life. You can look great, feel great, and perform life’s menial tasks with ease. Regardless of how hectic life can get, it is very important that people put time aside to care for their health. Your mental state will be improved, you will find new energy and will see the world in a more positive light. Your physical state will be improved, and your risk of cardiovascular diseases will be decreased. Whilst it may seem like an inconvenience to exercise at the time; once you begin to see the benefits, like the ones indicated above, your motivation to exercise will be renewed. It is about time for people to start putting their health, both mental and physical, as a priority and take the time to exercise. If everyone put their health first, the benefits that would be seen across the nation and the globe would be phenomenal. Take care of your body, it is the only one you’re going to get.
What are you waiting for, start exercising!
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