What if someone told you that a thinner, healthier, and longer life was within your reach? Sound too good to be true? According to a wealth of study, exercise is the silver bullet for a better quality of life.
Not only does regular exercise help in weight, it also reduces your risk for several chronic diseases and conditions. Finding activities that you enjoy and that become part of your daily routine is the key to a long and healthy life.
The list of health benefits is best, and the requirements are relatively simple — just do it.
Study has confirmed that any amount of exercise, at any age, is beneficial. And, in general, the more you do, the greater the benefits. The National Academy of Sciences has advised that everyone strive for a total of an hour per day of physical activity. Sounds like a lot, but the hour can be made up of several shorter bursts of activity (it can be walking, gardening, even heavy housecleaning) done throughout the day.
Physical activity is an important part of any weight-loss program, to maximize your fat loss while keeping valuable muscle mass. But exercise has many other health and longevity benefits. It can help keeps or improve these conditions:
Regular activity strengthens your heart muscles; reduces pressure; increases “good” cholesterol (high-density lipoproteins or HDLs) and lowers “bad” cholesterol (low-density lipoproteins or LDLs); enhances blood flow; and aids your heart function more efficiently. All of these benefits lower the risk of stroke,heart disease, and high blood pressure.
Researchers at Duke University think that the amount of physical activity, rather than its intensity, has the biggest impact on the improvements of blood lipids (cholesterol). According to The New England Journal of Medicine, these researchers also found that any exercise is better than none — although more is better.
In an analysis of 23 researches, researchers found that being active lower your risk of having and dying from a stroke. According to a study published in the journal Stroke, moderately active study participants had 20% less risk of stroke than less active participants.
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This disease is increasing at alarming level — by 62% since 1990 — and 17 million Americans now have it. Physical activity can enhance weigth and help keep and/or control this condition. Losing weight can increase insulin sensitivity, improve blood sugar and cholesterol levels, and reduce blood pressure — all of which are very vital to the health of people with diabetes.
In a research published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, Frank Hu, MD, of the Harvard School of Public Health found that a brisk walk for one hour daily could reduce the risk of type II diabetes by 34%.
Overweight and obese conditions can be kept at bay or treated with exercise along with a healthy diet. Activity helps to reduce body fat and increase muscle mass, thus improving your body’s ability to burn calories. The combination of lowered calories and daily exercise is the ticket to weight loss. And controlling obesity is critical, as it is a major risk factor for many diseases. Lowering your body mass index(BMI) is a sure way to lower your risk of dying early and to live a healthier life.
Back pain can be managed or kept with a fitness program that includes muscle strengthening and flexibility. Having good posture and a strong abdomen is the body’s best defense against back pain
Weight-bearing exercise (such as walking, jogging, stair climbing, dancing, or lifting weights) strengthens bone formation and helps prevent the osteoporosis or bone loss often noticed in women after menopause. Combine a diet rich in calcium and vitamins D with regular weight-bearing exercise for maximum results.
According to The Journal of the American Medical Association, data from the Nurses’ Health Study indicated that women who walked four or more hours per week had 41% fewer hip fractures than those who walked less than an hour a week.
“Exercise can help you cope with stress and ward off depression and anxiety”
Improved self-esteem is one of the top advantages of regular physical activity. While exercising, your body releases chemicals called endorphins that can enhance your mood and the way you feel about yourself. The feeling that follows a run or workout is often described as “euphoric” and is accompanied by an energizing outlook. Exercise can assist you cope with stress and send off depression and anxiety.
And these are just a few of the ways exercise improves your health. Studies have suggested it can also help with certain kind of cancer, improve immune function, and more.
Exercise alone generates modest weight loss; when combined with a reduced-calorie diet, the effects are much more impressive.
In a research published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, University of Pittsburgh researchers found that people who exercised regularly and ate a healthy, modest-calorie diet lost weight and improved cardio respiratory fitness regardless of the length or intensity of their workouts.
Another research published in JAMA showed that it is never too late to reap the benefits of physical activity. Sedentary women 65 years and older who began walking a mile a day cut their rates of death from all causes by 50%.
If exercise is so good for us, why are people not doing it?
Some 64% of men and 72% of women fail to fit in activity on a daily basis, according to a data from the 2000 National Health Interview Survey. Americans today are no more active than they were a decade ago.
The American College of Sports Medicine advises a combination of aerobic exercise (the kind that makes you breathe harder, like walking or jogging) for cardiovascular conditioning; strength training (like lifting weights or calisthenics) for muscle toning, and stretching to improve your range of motion.
Strive for doing all three types, but always remember that any exercise is better than nothing. Here are some easy ways to work physical activity into your life:
- Adopt a dog and take it for walks every day.
- Do things the old-fashioned way — get up and change the television channel; open the garage door manually; use a push lawnmower.
- Take the stairs and not the elevator.
- Walk briskly whenever you can.
- Minimize use of your vehicle; walk to destinations within a mile.
- Take up tennis or any other game or sport you enjoy.
- Join a gym or health club.
Next time you are tempted to skip exercising, keep these wonderful health benefits in mind and remember, every little bit helps. You may not feel up to a rigorous workout, but how about a walk in the neighborhood?
Don’t pass up a chance of a lifetime — that is, a longer and healthier one.