Amy Christie | Feb. 21, 2018
Regular exercise is about more than just weight control. Of course, weight loss is an awesome part but the benefits of exercise don't end there. You'll start to notice other changes soon after starting a fitness program and we aren't talking about the soreness.
Weight loss is often the top reason people exercise. Inactivity is a major factor in weight gain and obesity. Getting a move on burns more calories and the more calories you burn, the more weight you lose. Additionally, regular exercise can increase the metabolic rate which will burn more calories for a longer period of time. Aerobic exercise combined with resistance training maximizes fat loss while maintaining muscle mass.
The benefits of exercise extend to a myriad of overall health benefits. There is hardly a function in the body that is untouched and unchanged through regular exercise. Starting from the inside out, high-impact exercise promotes higher bone density. Later life, exercise may prevent osteoporosis or bone loss. The muscles that wrap the bone are just as served. Strength training builds and maintains muscles. Strong muscles won't lose their function and can prevent injury and disability.
Regular exercise has been shown to improve cardiovascular fitness and body composition and that helps so many of the body's systems. With reduced body fat, high blood pressure is reduced and insulin sensitivity is improved. The heart muscle gets stronger which improves blood flow and increases its working capacity. High and low density lipoproteins, or HDLs and LDLs respectively, are lowered as well. A healthier, stronger heart will help prevent heart disease and stroke.
Many age-related issues can be improved with activity as well. It can decrease the resting heart rate which normally increases with age. Increases in metabolism and the speed with which the stomach empties can also happen because of exercise. It decreases body fat and decreases the risk of depression as well.
On top of all the physical changes, exercise also changes our neurological health from brain function to protection of our memory and thinking skills. As the body moves, it bolsters blood flow and oxygen to the brain. People who exercise regularly feel an enormous sense of well-being. More energy during the day and better sleep at night. Studies have shown exercise to relieve depression symptoms and is an effective anxiety treatment. Exercise promotes things like neural growth and releases endorphins, those chemicals that make you feel good. It relaxes muscles and relieves tension in the body.
To get the full benefits of exercise, consistency is key. People 19-64 years old should spend at least 150 minutes a week in moderate aerobic activity with two or more days of major muscle group strength training a week. This shakes out to 30 minutes of activity five days a week. You can cut the time in half if the exercise is of moderate to vigorous activity. Remember, one minute of vigorous activity provides the same health benefits as two minutes of moderate activity. The longer and harder you exercise, the greater the health benefits. This doesn't mean you must work out everyday. Rest days are important as well. Take care of your body with exercise and your body will stay stronger and healthier for longer.