15 Reasons to Get Physically Active
Melissa RODRIGUEZ, Naturopathic Physician
Absolutely, without a doubt, one of the most significant ways to improve our health is by doing regular exercise. We have many studies that demonstrate this. It’s the magic pill that is within our reach. But how can one lifestyle change provide so many benefits? Read on to discover some amazing ways you can change your life by becoming more active.
- Physical activity gives you energy. Those feel-good hormones called endorphins can give you a powerful boost. And who couldn’t use a little more energy?
- Exercise has a significant effect on lowering blood sugar. Many people with Type 2 Diabetes can regain control of their blood sugar using diet and exercise.
- Exercise lowers the amount of fat that is found internally in and around your gut. This belly fat carries a greater risk of heart attacks and other heart related problems.
- Regular exercise can help improve mental health as well. It can relieve depression and increase feelings of contentment and wellbeing. It can even help your self-esteem! When you exercise you feel good that you achieved a goal, and over time it helps improve the way you look and how you feel about yourself.
- Your sex life can benefit from exercise! Men who exercise regularly have less of a chance of suffering from erectile dysfunction and women can experience increased sexual arousal thanks to exercise.
- Cardiovascular exercise strengthens the heart muscle and improves lung function. This makes these organs more efficient.
- Regular cardiovascular exercise can help to reduce high blood pressure.
- Getting our heart rate up and our blood pumping can prevent atherosclerosis, the thickening of the arterial walls due to fat molecules. Heart attacks can be related to atherosclerosis.
- Exercise helps to control mental and emotional stress. It also reduces cortisol levels, a hormone that our body produces in response to stress. Cortisol can have serious side effects on your body. Did you know that stress is a major risk factor in developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease? Stress is often related to a long list of conditions including, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia and sometimes even cancer.
- Regular exercise helps to maintain a healthy body weight. It increases our ratio of lean muscle mass to fat mass. When we have more muscle vs. fat we burn more calories at rest. This means our body’s metabolism speeds up and we become a more efficient fat burning machine. Increased metabolism is another perk of regular exercise.
- Studies show that exercise helps learning, improves memory and can even help prevent Alzheimer’s disease from developing. Exercise protects the hippocampus, the part of our brain responsible for formation, organization and storage of long-term memories. Exercise may also slow down the progression of the disease.
- Exercise helps us detox! When we sweat we are releasing toxins from our system. Break into a healthy sweat and help your body detoxify itself.
- Physical activity can benefit digestion and make your bowel movements more regular.
- Exercise can help improve your sleep. Just don’t do it too late at night or it might energize you instead of making you tired.
- Exercise improves the quality of life in old age and can help increase a person’s lifespan.
Now that you want to partake of these incredible health benefits, note that you don’t need to spend hours in a gym to achieve them. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), adults aged 18–64 should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week or at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week. Another option is to do a combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity. 1 minute of intense activity equals 2 minutes of moderate activity. Vigorous activity is when you’re almost out of breath, and when performing the exercise you can only say a few words at a time. In moderate activity your heart rate is up, but you can still speak.
It is important to note that if you have been inactive for long periods of time, it is best to consult a qualified health care practitioner before starting a fitness program.