Exercise for Health
The health benefits of exercise are well known and obvious for anyone to see. Exercise is free and the benefits are immediate, so it’s surprising that people who would otherwise be healthy choose instead to tolerate niggling injuries or unwanted weight gain. Obviously, getting active is harder than it seems, especially for those who are unaccustomed to a regular exercise program.
People are bombarded on a daily basis with images of toned bikini bodies and muscular icons on the stage and screen, and the ideal level of fitness can appear unattainable and unrealistic. In the meantime, despite the increase in gyms and sports facilities, there are now more obese than underweight people in the world.
The good news is that even a little exercise will go a long way toward re-establishing overall health. Exercise is a miracle cure that has been long neglected, with plenty of scientific evidence suggesting that regular exercise helps people of all ages to lead a healthy, happy life.
Health benefits of exercise
Exercise can dramatically reduce the likelihood of major illnesses including mental health, stroke, heart disease, diabetes and cancer. It’s also known to enhance self-esteem, improve sleep quality, boost energy and displace negative emotions. Benefits of regular exercise, even in moderation, include:
- 35% reduced risk of stroke or coronary heart disease
- 50% reduced risk of colon cancer
- 20% reduced risk of breast cancer
- 50% reduced risk of type 2 diabetes
- 83% reduced risk of osteoarthritis
- 68% reduced risk of hip fractures
- 30% reduced risk of suffering depression
Additional benefits of exercise include greatly reduced risk of falls, dementia and even early death. Although weight management is the impetus for most people to get active, the results are noticeable in general good health and well-being. Peak fitness isn’t even required. All it takes is a couple of hours per week engaged in a variety of exercises – the same amount of time the average person spends on social media every day.
In simple terms, all movement will exercise some part of the body, so making basic lifestyle changes can be a great start. The change can be as easy as walking or cycling as an alternative to driving or riding the bus. If distance is a problem, get off the bus a couple of stops early and enjoy walking the rest of the way.
For tangible health benefits, moderate exercise should increase the heart rate and make you breathe faster. Your body will also feel warmer. Weight gain can take months and even years to accumulate, so it’s important to start slow and steady to avoid injury. Transformation takes time, and avoiding an injury setback is important to stay motivated.
Once you are attuned to performing moderate intensive activity, it could even be time to consider taking part in group or club sports to enjoy the social aspect of fitness and health. Once the feel-good factor of exercise kicks in, you might want to up the ante to more vigorous intensity activity. This level further increases heart rate and breathing and accumulates additional health benefits.
How does exercise benefit the body?
Regular exercise benefits the internal organs as well as our external appearance. Here are some examples of how it works.
Heart disease and stroke: The heart muscle is strengthened and working capacity increased. Blood pressure is lowered and blood flow improved. Good cholesterol is raised and bad cholesterol lowered.
High blood pressure: Exercise reduces blood pressure. It also reduces body fat that could lead to high blood pressure.
Obesity: Body fat is reduced and replaced with muscle mass. The body will also use calories more appropriately. When combined with good nutrition, exercise prevents obesity and the onset of many diseases.
Osteoporosis: Strong bones are formed and bone deterioration is greatly reduced.
Back pain: Posture and flexibility is improved and muscle strength and mass increased.
Self-esteem: Exercise can dramatically reduce the incidence of depression, anxiety and stress.
Sedentary and lazy lifestyle choices have become known as a ‘silent killer’ – a fact acknowledged by governments and health organisations worldwide. Change is underway, and some profits from major sports events such as the Olympics are now committed to improving the health of the general populace. However, we remain individuals and the first steps toward good health have to be our own.
Motivation is the deciding factor, and if good health seems like ‘a bridge too far’ it’s worth consulting an expert health practitioner or even employing the services of a personal trainer. Good health is ultimately free but in the meantime an investment in expert guidance could be the best money you ever spent.