In my post yesterday I mentioned that 70-80% of the impact on our health comes from our diet. Today I want to briefly talk about the factor that contributes the remaining 20-30%. Thus, this post is about exercise and the benefits of exercise.
Some people believe that exercise is only required by people who wish to lose weight. While it is true that weight loss or weight management is one of the benefits of exercise, it is definitely not the only positive impact that exercise offers. It is also true that the benefits of exercise or physical activity vary according to the type of and duration of the workout, the age and physical condition of the concerned person, and so on.
Certain commonly seen benefits of exercise include:
- Exercise helps to reduce blood pressure and bad cholesterol and increases the level of good cholesterol in the blood. It strengthens the heart muscles and improves the heart’s pumping capacity. All this reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke.
- Regular physical activity also helps to improve muscle mass and reduce body fat. Reduction of fat especially belly fat helps to avoid a slew of cardiovascular diseases and diabetes.
- If the exercise includes weight training or flexibility workouts like Yoga or Pilates, it helps to keep the body flexible and supple and avoid injuries as one grows older. It also helps to avoid back pain and keeps the bones strong.
- Exercise helps us to manage stress much better by increasing the concentration of norepinephrine in the brain. The higher the concentration of this chemical, the better the ability of the brain to deal with stressors.
- Physical activity and exercise releases endorphins, the so-called “happy hormones”, which induce feelings of happiness and even euphoria. Exercise also soothes symptoms of anxiety. This is why exercise or sports are recommended to people suffering from anxiety or depression.
- Starting and sticking to even a simple workout routine can improve a person’s sense of self-esteem and self-confidence. This improved sense of confidence also seeps into other areas of his/her life with positive effects.
- Research has found that people at risk of degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s can delay the onset of symptoms of cognitive decline if they start working out from early adulthood. Exercise releases chemicals in the brain that can prevent or slow down the degeneration of the hippocampus, the brain’ centre for learning and memory.
- One can turn exercise into a relaxing social activity by involving one or more friends in the workout plan, e.g. joining a Zumba class together, or making a pact to wake each other up early every morning for a walk, and so on.
Thus we see that even looking beyond the usual reasons of weight management, the benefits of exercise are significant.
Confession time: Now if only I could find a way to be more regular with exercise myself, I would be sorted. But I guess that’s a topic to be covered under “W for Willpower” or even “T for Time Management”!
What is your favourite form of exercise and how do you fit it into your daily routine? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section!
Some of my earlier posts from the A2Z Series