Even a little exercise it better than no exerciseDo you want to add years to your life, or life to your years?

The American Heart Association suggests at least 150-minutes of moderate activity each week. An easy way to take this into account is 30 minutes at least 5 days a week, but keep in mind that three 10-minute periods of activity are as beneficial to your overall fitness as one 30-minute session.

“It’s hardly news now that exercise keeps your heart and lungs working efficiently,” says Steven Blair, PhD, professor of exercise epidemiology at the University of South Carolina and one of the country’s leading exercise scientists. “But we’ve also come to understand that exercise can help prevent adult onset diabetes, improve bone health, and even lower the risk of some cancers. Physical activity also appears to help ease depression for some people.”

You’ve heard many times that exercise is good for you, but unless you’re trying to get ready for swimsuit season, you might wonder precisely why it’s so imperative to work out on a regular basis. Physical activity honestly does give you so much more than a toned tummy (although that’s cool also). As a matter of fact, an active lifestyle can protect you against everything from osteoporosis and heart disease to the common flu.

For most people, weight loss is the primary motivation for getting into shape. But there are a lot of other payoffs to exercising than just fitting into those skinny jeans. Believe it or not, regular physical activity can decrease your cancer risk, improve your sex life, make your skin glow and much more.

Still not convinced you should pick yourself up off the couch? Consider the following 10 health benefits you can get from even a moderate regular workout.
Here are some reasons why physical activity is demonstrated to improve both mental and physical health.

Exercise Health Benefit nr. 1 – Weight loss

A lifetime of regular excercise – even if we are talking about activities as simple as walking half an hour a day – can help keep tummy flat. In findings from the National Weight Control Registry, experts looked at the habits of 3,000 people who lost more than 10% of their body weight and managed to keep it off for at least a year. Eight out of 10 of them, reported increasing their work out training. The men in the group cranked up their activities – running, cycling, walking, aerobics, weight lifting, and stair climbing –  enough to burn an additional 3298 calories a week.

Different recent studies have shown that men who report doing more physical activity also have slimmer waistlines. In a 2006 study at Ball State University, a group of 58 volunteers started a program of walking 10,000 steps a day. After 36 weeks, the volunteers had trimmed almost an inch from their hips and a similar amount from their waists.

Exercise Health Benefit  nr. 2 – Improves your sex life
The Harvard School of Public Health found that only 20 minutes of regular exercise a day might improve sexual response in women. Not only does working out leave you feeling energized, but it might also make you feel more desirable. “Since exercise can improve health, vitality, appearance and self-esteem, it does indeed tend to increase interest in—and capacity for—sexual activity,” says David Katz, MD, director of Yale University’s Prevention Research Center. “Just make sure your partner is on the exercise bandwagon as well!” Working out with your partner, Dr. Katz says, not only will allow you to spend time together, but it will prompt adrenaline and other feel-good hormones to get you in the mood.

Exercise Health Benefit nr. 3 – Healthier aging

Without regular physical activity, the body gradually loses its strength, stamina and ability to proper function. People who are physically active and at a healthy weight live about 7 years more than those who are not active and are overweight.
A recent study found that daily physical activity reduces the probability that an older person will become physically disabled.

Exercise Health Benefit  nr. 4 – Reduces stress, depression and anxiety
We’ve been hearing for years that regular exercise improve your mood, but it does much more than that, once you get motivated, exercise can make a big difference. physical activity can definitely make you feel better and help you relax keeping anxiety and depression from coming back. When you work out, endorphins and neurotransmitters wich ease depression are released and you increase your body temperature, which has been shown to cool down nerves.

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Exercise Health Benefit  nr. 5 – Enhances mental performance and work productivity
Exercise is necessary for increasing overall quality of life, peculiarly when it comes to work. Not only does exercise improve self-confidence in the workplace, which helps you take on leadership roles and work better, it also increases long-term productivity and concentration. A research released by the American College of Sports Medicine discovered that 65% of employees surveyed reported an improved ability to manage their time and work, as well as an improved mental and interpersonal performance when they exercised in the middle of the day.

Exercise Health Benefit  nr. 6 – Less back pain

Workouts focusing on endurance, muscle strength, flexibility and posture can lighten spinal pressure and improve how you feel daily.

Exercise Health Benefit  nr. 7 – Better self-esteem and stress management

Regular physical activity can relieve tension, stress, depression, anxiety and anger.  Most people notice an improvement in general well-being over time during the weeks and months as physical activity becomes a part of their routine,not only a “feel good sensation” immediately following physical activity.
Your body produces feel-good endorphins during sustained, strenuous exercise. Physical activity also bring mental health benefits by improving your self-image as you take the great and positive initiative to care for yourself.

Exercise Health Benefit  nr. 8 – Heightened immunity

Daily workouts can help your body hold back colds and the flu by increasing the circulation of cells that block viruses and bacteria.

Exercise Health Benefit  nr. 9 – More energy

Exercise gives your muscles increased strength and endurance to perform everyday tasks such as carrying loaded grocery bags or chasing your kids around the house.

Exercise Health Benefit  nr. 10 – Better sleep

Consistent physical activity might also help you fall asleep faster and improve your sleep quality. Be sure to schedule a buffer separating your workout and bedtime since late-night exercise can amplify your energy when you’d rather be winding down.

Exercise Health Benefit  nr. 11 – Reduces your dementia risk
Over the years, studies have found that being active can improve mind function and energy, lowering the risk of dementia. Physical activity “improve[s] cognitive function in healthy elderly persons, and potentially reduce[s] the risk of developing cognitive impairment,” according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Dance classes especially, which require learning skills like memory and focus, are particularly helpful for people with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

Exercise Health Benefit  nr. 12 – Prevents muscle loss
As we get older, not only do our bodies build muscle less smoothly, but the muscle we have breaks down quickly, according to a study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. This makes consistent exercise a very important part of healthy aging. Physical activity not only helps us maintain our muscle mass, it can increase it. This basically keeps our metabolism high, gives us strength and endurance to complete tasks of daily life, and helps prevent falls, which can be a life-changing experience for older adults.

Exercise Health Benefit  nr. 13 – Improves digestion
The Gastroenterological Society of Australia found that physical activity helps the intestinal muscles break down food and move it through your system properly by strengthening the abdominal muscles and minimizing sluggishness. Regular exercise can help prevent constipation. Even short, intermittent walking throughout the day might help keep things regular.

Exercise Health Benefit  nr. 14 – Reduces cancer risk

Several studies have proved that the risk of colon, lung and breast cancers can be reduced in active people. A 2007 study found that working out is a crucial step to preventing breast cancer because higher levels of estrogen (which is stored in fat) rise your risk. “Women who exercise heavily are, in general, older at the time of the[ir] first period, and tend to have irregular periods and a shortened estrogen-producing phase,” the American Association for Cancer Research reports. “Postmenopausal women who are physically active have also been shown to have lower levels of estrogen”. Research found that women who exercise regularly can hope to a 20 to 30 percent reduction in their breast cancer risk as to women who don’t exercise. Although the reason isn’t precisely clear, scientists suspect the lower estrogen levels as a result of exercise contribute to these positive results.

Exercise Health Benefit  nr. 15 – A guard against colon cancer

One of the leading causes of cancer death in is men colon cancer. About 80% of cases of this terrible disease could be prevented, experts say. A healthier lifestyle (with more fiber and whole grains) is part of the prescription. But exercise turns out to be just as vital as diet. Studies have shown that exercise  can reduce colon cancer risk by as much as 30 to 40%.

Exercise Health Benefit nr. 16 – Improves your skin
Exercise boost the blood flow to your skin so if vanity is still your number one motivation to get in shape, then add glowing skin to the list of benefits. Studies have shown that exercise improves acne by regulating the production of acne-inducing testosterone hormones like DHEA and DHT and  sweating can open pores and help clear up your breakouts, detoxifying the skin of oils and dirt.

Exercise Health Benefit nr. 17 – Reduced risk of heart disease and stroke

Too much sitting and other sedentary activities can raise your risk of cardiovascular disease. One study showed that adults who watch television more than 4 hours a day had a 46% increased risk of death from any cause and an 80% increased risk of death from heart disease.
Regular physical activity can help avoid these leading causes of death by strengthening your heart muscle, increasing your good cholesterol (and decreasing your bad cholesterol) and improving your blood flow. In fact, studies have shown that exercise reduces your risk of stroke by 27 percent.

As most men get older, cholesterol numbers starts to move in the wrong direction. Levels of so-called bad cholesterol — low-density lipoprotein (LDL) — gradually increase. Levels of good cholesterol, called high-density lipoprotein (HDL), tend to decrease. Sadly, that combination of high LDL and low HDL is one of the leading risk factors for heart disease.

The single best way to improve good HDL cholesterol is to exercise.  Even activities like a walk in the park or light housework outside count.

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Exercise Health Benefit nr. 18 – Lower risk of high blood pressure

Becoming more active can help reduce your blood pressure. Research show that physical activity reduces the incidence of high blood pressure by approximately 40 percent.

As blood pressure climbs, the risk of heart disease and stroke accelerates. Sdly, blood pressure levels usually increase as men get older, but they don’t have to. In a research published in 2007, University of Minnesota researchers followed men and women 18 to 30 years old for up to 15 years. The more physically active the volunteers were, the lower their risk of developing hypertension.

Exercise Health Benefit nr. 19 – Reduced inflammation

Everyday exercise has been shown to decrease levels of C-reactive protein, a measure of inflammation. That’s very important because cholesterol-laden plaques on the lining of arteries are most likely to break off and cause heart attacks when they become inflamed.

Exercise Health Benefit nr. 20 – Flexible blood vessels

To respond to unstable demands for oxygen, blood vessels must be flexible enough to narrow and widen. Smoking, cholesterol build-up, sedentary lifestyle, and just plain aging tend to stiffen vessels, growing heart attack risk. An increasing number of studies demonstrate that working out helps maintain the ability of blood vessels to open and constrict in response to changing physical demands.

Exercise Health Benefit nr. 21 – Lower risk of diabetes

Staying active can help you keep the weight off. Adult onset diabetes – inflamed mostly by too much body fat – is one of the biggest health worries in the present. Studies shows that even for people who are overweight or obese, physical activity reduces the risk of diabetes. The Diabetes Prevention Program discovered that an exercise and weight loss program decreased the risk of type 2 diabetes by a massive 58% over a three-year period. Keep in mind that the volunteers in that program weren’t running marathons. The exercise they were doing was the equivalent of burning only an extra 593 calories of energy – the equivalent of walking six miles a week for most men.

Exercise Health Benefit nr. 22 – Stronger bones

Another unpleasant effect of aging is thinning bones, which can lead to a bigger risk of fractures. In a study that followed 3,262 men from their 40s to their 60s, arduous workout dramatically decreased the risk of hip fractures. High-impact workouts trigger bones to add mass, or reduce the loss of mass that happens naturally as you age.
Fitness, is very important for bone health. According to The University of Arizona, strengthening exercises like jogging, weight-lifting, hiking, step aerobics, stair climbing, dancing and racquet sports are best.

Exercise Health Benefit nr. 23 – Living a longer life

An active life also means a longer and healthier life. In a 2004 study at Finland’s University of Kuopio, researchers followed 15,853 men aged 30 to 59. Over a 20 year period, men who were committed in doing physical activities – swimming, playing ball, jogging, skiing, or doing serious gardening — were up to 21% less likely to develop cardiovascular disease or to die of any cause during the study period.

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How much exercise you need to gain these health benefits?

The answer to how much exercise you need depends partly on what you want to obtain. For instance, walking half an hour most days of the week is all you need to notably lower your risk of colon cancer and diabetes.

So why not see for yourself? Once you get over the inertia and find creative ways to fit physical activity into your daily life, we think you’ll agree that the effort to get moving is worth it!

What other “prescription” costs so little, yet has the potential to help you become more confident, independent, happier, well-rested, graceful, mentally and emotionally stable, healthier, and fit?

It’s very important to start slowly. It’s safer that way, and when you set yourself for small goals everyday you set yourself up for success.

The more physical activities you can weave into your daily life, the healthier you’ll be.