One of the major campaigns in today’s society is advocacy for people to sit less, move more, and exercise more. The primary reason for this is the increase in the adoption of a sedentary lifestyle. We all know that this lifestyle is linked to several lifestyle health conditions, such as obesity and high blood pressure. Nevertheless, most people choose not to exercise or indulge in physical activity, perhaps for fear of getting tired. Here are the top 10 benefits of exercise that can help you reconsider such a decision.
Top 10 Benefits Of Exercise And Physical Activity
We have probably heard the saying a million times that exercise is good for you. Even so, some people are still not willing to start exercising. Exercising has a host of health and physical benefits, which is why you should give it a try. Here are some of the most significant ways that exercise can benefit you:
Protection Against Diseases
A sedentary lifestyle is the number one culprit of health conditions such as obesity. However, the concern with obesity is that it leads to other fatal health conditions, including coronary artery disease, cancer, asthma, and congestive heart failure (6).
This lifestyle is also linked to venous thrombosis. Contrary to what you may think, a sedentary lifestyle does not only mean eating processed or junk food. It also entails spending the majority of your day sitting.
Sitting for extended durations increases your chances of developing fatal blood clots in the veins in your legs, which is also known as venous thrombosis (9). Again, overeating junk and processed food increases your cholesterol and sodium levels.
Consuming too much of both is fatal. In the case of sodium, too much of it increases your blood pressure. High blood pressure has been linked to kidney disease, stroke, heart attack, and heart failure (11). Exercising can help combat all of these fatal health risks that result from a sedentary lifestyle.
The most prominent physical benefit of starting any exercise program is weight management. A lot of people are struggling to lose weight and maintain their ideal weight. That probably explains why there are numerous weight loss exercise programs online.
Exercising can help you shed pounds by increasing your calorie expenditure. It enables you to burn more calories than you consume, which is the basic foundation of weight loss. Similarly, regular exercise helps you maintain high metabolism. This is paramount for weight loss as it means burning extra calories even when at rest.
Improved Cardiovascular Health
Cardiovascular health has become a subject of concern in most countries. Experts reveal that cardiovascular diseases (CVD) account for 31% of mortality in the form of coronary heart disease (CHD) and cerebrovascular accidents (10).
CVD is just an umbrella covering numerous heart problems, including rheumatic and congenital heart diseases, cerebrovascular disease, CHD, venous thromboembolism, and peripheral arterial disease (10). All of these conditions deteriorate heart health, leading to a high mortality rate. Experts reveal that regular exercise can improve cardiovascular health in the following ways (12):
- Improving cholesterol levels. High LDL levels (bad cholesterol) rank among the top risk factors for cardiovascular diseases.
- Lowering blood pressure. High blood pressure or hypertension increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and related conditions like stroke. Its risk factors are obesity, excessive alcohol intake, smoking, and family history (8).
- Reducing the risk of heart attacks and heart disease
- Reducing stroke risk
Increased Muscle Mass And Strength
Exercise can help you improve muscle mass and get that muscular physique you have always wanted. The most popular type of exercise to help with this benefit is weight training. Training regularly by lifting weights helps in increasing muscle size and strength in a process known as muscle hypertrophy (7).
Remember that you cannot grow muscles at the same rate as your sibling or friend. Various factors come into play, including your body type, genetics, and the level of testosterone and estrogen in your body (7).
Improved Quality Of Sleep
If meditation, massage, and a warm shower are not helping, try exercising for improved quality of sleep. Exercising outside and just before dinner has been deemed effective in improving sleep quality (13). However, you are urged not to do complicated exercises or any workouts just before bedtime (13).
Improved Mental Health
There are numerous mental health benefits associated with exercising. The top 10 mental benefits of exercising list would include the following:
Improved Mood And Well-Being
Exercising is also an excellent way to boost your mood and mental well-being. When exercising, your body releases hormones known as the feel-good hormones. They help improve your mood and keep you relaxed (1). In light of this, experts acknowledge that exercise can be an effective technique for battling stress and depression.
Sharpening Various Skills
Exercising also helps sharpen your thinking, reasoning, learning, and judgment. Again, exercise stimulates the release of some proteins and chemicals. These chemicals and proteins are responsible for improving the structure and function of the brain (1).
Improved Quality Of Life
Experts also acknowledge exercise and physical activity as contributors to an enhanced quality of life (5). They further suggest a strong link between exercise and improved quality of life among those with cancer. The rationale behind this is that exercise helps with enhanced functional capacity, diminished symptomatology, and enhanced physical and psychological well-being (5).
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Improved Bone Health
Aging is associated with numerous things, one being the loss of bone density. To prevent this, experts recommend moderate or vigorous aerobic and muscle-strengthening exercises. The best aerobic exercises that help in improving bone health are walking and dancing (12).
Resistance exercises are also beneficial for your health. However, note that exercising once a week or month will not improve bone density or health. Medical News Today states that you will only reap this benefit when you exercise for roughly 90 minutes a week (12).
The additional benefit of increased bone density, especially among seniors, is a reduced risk of falls. In addition, research suggests that doing muscle-strengthening activities or moderate aerobic exercises help prevent falls (12).
Reduces Pain And Stiffness
Exercise is significant in reducing muscle pain and stiffness. In addition, WebMD may help with joint and back pain by increasing your pain threshold (4). These experts argue that, when you are experiencing chronic pain, your pain threshold tends to drop.
In simpler terms, this means that it takes less pain to make you feel uncomfortable. In addition, exercising especially using flexibility, strengthening, and cardiovascular exercises can help improve this pain threshold (4).
It Boosts Energy Levels
It may seem weird that your doctor recommends exercise after telling them you have been feeling tired lately. Most people never understand the relationship between exercise and energy. Well, according to Health Harvard, exercise can actually boost your energy levels and in several ways, including:
By Changing The Cellular Level Occurring Inside Your Body
When you exercise, exertion causes your body to produce more mitochondria inside your muscle cells. Mitochondria are vital as they help create fuel out of glucose from your food and oxygen from the air you breathe. Having more mitochondria makes your body increase the energy supply (3).
By Boosting Oxygen Circulation Inside Your Body
When you work out, there is an increase in oxygen inside your body. It supports the production of more mitochondria, which, as we’ve noted, helps in increasing the body’s energy supply. Similarly, it allows your body to function better and use its energy more efficiently (3). Your body also gets a boost from an exercise-induced increase in hormone levels, making you feel more energized (3).
These are the top 10 benefits of exercise that you need to be familiar with in order to help you bring more physical activity into your lifestyle.
How To Incorporate Physical Activity Into Daily Routine
How do you go about incorporating physical activity into your routine?
Here is what experts recommend:
- Speak to a healthcare professional. Before you adopt any exercise program, you are urged to first talk to a doctor.
- Walk. The simplest and safest of all exercise programs that doctors first recommend you to embrace is walking. Although most people ridicule this activity, it does help burn calories. The number of calories you burn will depend on how long you walk or undertake this activity, how intensely you walk, and your diet (2). A combination of a healthy diet and more intensity in this activity will burn enough calories to help you lose weight (2).
- Start small. You do not necessarily have to start with weight lifting. Start with simple activities like walking, jogging, and swimming, and continue to walk your way up the ladder.
- Reward yourself. Always reward yourself for small achievements as it will increase your motivation. For example, you can reward yourself if you consistently woke up early the entire week to go jogging. With time, you will discover that you do not even need a reward of any kind to be motivated to engage in physical activity.
- Choose a physical activity that you like. Do not settle for swimming if you are afraid of water. Similarly, do not settle for running if you hate running. Always stick to something you enjoy, as it is easier to build consistency.
The Bottom Line
As we all know, exercise is paramount in increasing an individual’s quality of life. We can attest to its importance through its wide array of physical and mental health benefits. Some of these include triggering weight loss, improving cardiovascular health, improving sleep quality, and joint pain and stiffness. So choose to improve your health by incorporating an exercise activity today. Remember, however, to talk to your doctor first to get the green light.
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This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help, and it should not be relied on for decision-making. Any action that you take based on the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Benefits of exercise (2021, medlineplus.gov)
- Can I lose weight if my only exercise is walking? (2021, mayoclinic.org)
- Does exercise really boost energy levels? (2021, health harvard.edu)
- Exercise and Pain Relief (2014, webmd.com)
- Exercise and Quality of Life: Strengthening the Connections (2009, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Health impacts of Obesity (2015, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- How to build muscle with exercise (2020, medicalnewstoday.com)
- Hypertension/High Blood Pressure Health Center (2021, webmd.com
- Move more every day to combat a sedentary lifestyle (2018, health harvard.edu)
- Primary prevention of cardiovascular disease: A review of contemporary guidance and literature (2017, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Sodium still high in fast food and processed foods (2013, health harvard.edu)
- What are the mental and physical health benefits of exercise? (2021, medicalnewstoday.com)
- What to do Today to Sleep Better Tonight (2020, webmd.com)