Exercise is medicine and may be the closest thing to the fountain of youth! Regular activity strengthens your muscles and improves heart and lung function; it can also reduce your risk of illness and disease, stimulate the growth of new brain cells, and add years to your life. No pill or elixir can do all that!
Studies show that only 30 minutes of physical activity on most days is all that is required to reap significant health benefits. However, that does not mean sitting for the other 15 or so hours you’re awake is okay.
Most of us know exercise is good, but making time is often a challenge with our busy schedules. So, we put it off due to “no time.” I know it was easy for me to make excuses as to why I didn’t have time to exercise. But, looking back, it’s obvious I wasn’t ready to make it important enough.
The bottom line is exercise needed to be a bigger priority. Once I decided to make it a priority, everything fell into place. I started losing unwanted fat and trimming down, building some lean muscle (which helps burn more fat), and I felt better and looked better. All these benefits gave me more motivation to keep going.
How effective is exercise really? Will one workout make a difference? Certainly not. Will four exercise sessions make a difference? Not really. Will 208 workouts a year make a difference? Most definitely! If you were to exercise just four times a week for a year, that would add up to 208 workouts! Wow! Do you think you would look and feel any differently at that point? Of course!
Most of us do not look at the big picture or consider the future to see how our daily decisions shape where we will be in 6 – 12 months, much less 10, 20, or 30 years. It’s too easy to get discouraged. We want results, and we want them NOW! Unfortunately, getting healthy and staying healthy doesn’t work that way.
The first step is DECIDING that exercise is a priority and working other things in your schedule around it. We all know if it’s not a big enough priority, the “excuses” will always creep in.
There are many reasons why exercise is essential, if not critical, for our health. The key is to start, create a plan, and stick to it. You WILL see results IF you don’t give up.
Research suggests the following benefits transpire from exercise:
Exercise keeps you young – Workouts such as brisk walking or cycling boost the amount of oxygen consumed. Improving aerobic capacity by 15 to 25 percent shaves years off your age. It is well documented that aerobic exercise stimulates the growth of new brain cells in older adults. It also assists in keeping you flexible, limber, and strong.
Exercise reduces infections – Moderate workouts temporarily rev up the immune system by increasing the capacity and aggressiveness capacity of immune cells. That may explain why people who exercise catch fewer colds.
Exercise prevents heart attacks – Not only does exercise raise “good” HDL cholesterol and lower blood pressure, but new research shows it reduces arterial inflammation, another risk factor for heart attacks and strokes.
Exercise eases asthma – Recent evidence shows that upper-body and breathing exercises can reduce the need to use an inhaler in mild cases of asthma.
Exercise controls blood sugar – Exercise helps maintain a healthy blood-sugar level by increasing the cells’ sensitivity to insulin and controlling weight. Regular brisk walking, for instance, can significantly cut the risk of developing type II diabetes.
Exercise protects against cancer – Exercise may reduce some cancer risks by speeding waste through the gut, lowering the insulin level, and regulating hormone levels.
Exercise combats stress – Regular aerobic exercise lowers levels of stress hormones. For many people, exercise helps relieve depression as effectively as antidepressant medication. Exercise is the most potent and underutilized antidepressant; it improves your outlook and is FREE!
Exercise relieves hot flashes – Ladies, increasing fitness by simply walking or practicing yoga enhances mood and reduces some menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes and night sweats.
Exercise prolongs life – Studies lasting many years have consistently shown that being active cuts the risk of premature death by as much as 50% for both men and women.
Think of physical activity as the medicine you need to take daily. It changes your body, it changes your mind, it changes your attitude, it changes your mood, and it GIVES YOU LIFE!