The Importance of Exercise
We all know that exercise is important in our daily lives, but we may not know why or what exercise can do for us. Exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Exercise prevents health problems, builds strength, boosts energy, and can help you reduce stress. It can also help you maintain healthy body weight and curb your appetite.
It’s important to remember that we have evolved from nomadic ancestors who spent all their time moving around in search of food and shelter, traveling large distances on a daily basis. Our bodies are designed and have evolved to be regularly active.
Can anyone exercise?
Everyone can benefit from physical activity. For most people, it is possible to begin exercising on your own at a slow pace. If you have never exercised before, start with a 10-minute period of light exercise. A brisk walk every day is a good first exercise. Slowly increase how hard you exercise and for how long.
Talk to your doctor before starting an exercise program. This is especially important if your doctor is already monitoring you for a health problem, such as heart disease or osteoarthritis. You should try to exercise even if you have a physical disability that limits movement. Your doctor can help you find other exercises to improve your overall health.
The Importance of Exercise
There are many benefits of regular exercise and maintaining fitness and these include:
Exercise increases energy levels
Exercise improves both the strength and the efficiency of your cardiovascular system to get oxygen and nutrients to your muscles. When your cardiovascular system works better everything seems easier and you have more energy for the fun stuff in life.
Exercise improves muscle strength
Staying active keeps muscles strong and joints, tendons, and ligaments flexible, allowing you to move more easily and avoid injury. Strong muscles and ligaments reduce your risk of joint and lower back pain by keeping joints in proper alignment. They also improve coordination and balance.
- Exercise can help you to maintain a healthy weightThe more you exercise, the more calories you burn. In addition, the more muscle you develop, the higher your metabolic rate becomes, so you burn more calories even when you’re not exercising. The result? You may lose weight and look better physically which will boost your self-esteem.
Exercise improves brain function
Exercise increases blood flow and oxygen levels in the brain. It also encourages the release of the brain chemicals (hormones) that are responsible for the production of cells in the hippocampus, the part of the brain that controls memory and learning. This, in turn, boosts concentration levels and cognitive ability and helps reduce the risk of cognitive degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
Exercise is good for your heart
Exercise reduces LDL cholesterol (the type that clogs your arteries), increases HDL (the good cholesterol), and reduces blood pressure so it lowers the stress on your heart. Added to this, it also strengthens your heart muscle. Combined with a healthy diet, exercise lowers the risk of developing coronary heart disease.
Regular exercise lowers your risk of developing type 2 diabetes
Regular exercise helps to control blood glucose levels, which helps to prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes. Additionally, exercise helps to prevent obesity, which is a primary factor in the development of type 2 diabetes.
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.
Staying active reduces the likelihood of developing some degenerative bone diseases
Weight-bearing exercise such as running, walking, or weight training lowers your risk of both osteoarthritis and osteoporosis – the adage of “use it or lose it” really does apply to bones.
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
Active people tend to sleep better
Physical activity makes you more tired so you’re more ready to sleep. Good quality sleep helps improve overall wellness and can reduce stress.
Exercise improves your mood and gives you an improved sense of well-being
Physical activity stimulates the release of endorphins which make you feel better and more relaxed. These in turn improve your mood and lower your stress levels.
Exercise can help prevent and treat mental illnesses like depression
Physical activity can help you meet people, reduce stress levels, cope with frustration, give you a sense of achievement, and provide some important “me time”, all of which help with depression.
How much exercise do I need?
A good goal is to exercise 5 times a week for at least 30 minutes each time. However, most people need to start gradually. Start by exercising 2 or 3 times a week for 20 minutes at a time. Once you feel comfortable, slowly increase the amount of time and the number of days a week that you exercise.
Cardiorespiratory exercise, often abbreviated to ‘cardio’, is any exercise that increases the heartbeat and breathing rate.
Such exercises include walking, running, swimming, cycling, dancing, and team sports such as football, hockey, basketball, etc.
Resistance exercise is concerned with working the body’s muscle groups and building strength.
Very light or light-intensity resistance training is best for older persons or previously sedentary adults new to exercise
- Two to four sets of each exercise will help adults improve strength and power.
- For each exercise, 8-12 repetitions improve strength and power, 10-15 repetitions improve strength in middle-aged and older persons starting exercise, and 15-20 repetitions improve muscular endurance.
It is recommended that adults should wait at least 48 hours between resistance training sessions.