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We’ve all heard it a million times: Exercise if good for you. But do we know why and how it benefits us? Here are the nine major benefits of doing routine exercise.
It reduces body fat: This is the most obvious benefit. Let’s face it; who wouldn’t want a lean, firm body? But aside from making us look better, it also increases the metabolic rate. How? By increasing the body’s muscle base, we burn more calories with every movement. The more calories we burn, the leaner we become. The leaner we become, the better we look. It’s win-win!
It lowers the blood pressure: Exercise is an excellent antidote for Hypertension. How? By improving heart health. A healthy heart is able to pump more efficiently. Remember, the heart is also a muscle. When we exercise, the heart works harder too, and like any other muscle, it gets stronger. As it strengthens, it begins to pump the blood far more efficiently, putting less pressure on the arteries. Less pressure on the arteries means lower blood pressure. This is not to say that someone with Hypertension should rush out and run a marathon! Start slowly. Build up your general fitness. In some cases, simply increasing activity level can negate the need for medication. However, it is always advisable to get your physician’s approval before embarking on any new exercise regime. Go for regular check-ups and get your doctor’s approval before increasing the intensity of your training.
It reduces the risk of Type 2 Diabetes: Regular exercise lowers the blood glucose levels, thereby reducing the risk of Type 2 Diabetes. For anyone who is obese and pre-diabetic, embarking on a gentle but regular exercise regime, will counteract the rising blood glucose levels. The increased blood flow will assist the body to flush excess glucose and other toxins which, in turn, leads to improved general health. This doesn’t mean you get to ditch the insulin, unless it’s approved by your doctor.
It reduces Cholesterol: Cholesterol is, after all, a fatty deposit in the blood. Getting regular exercise will help to reduce the HDL and Triglycerides, thereby reducing the risk of heart attacks and strokes. The increased blood flow, brought about by physical activity, added to a reduced fat diet, can reduce or eliminate the need for medication. Go ahead and give it a try.
It improves circulation: Something as simple as regular brisk walking, or riding a stationary bicycle, can vastly improve blood circulation. Test the theory on a cold winter’s day, when your hands and feet are turning blue from the cold! Jump on the treadmill and walk for a few minutes. In no time, you will feel the sensation returning to your fingers and toes! The activity will warm you up from the inside out and help shake of the winter blues.
It is a natural antidepressant: You don’t believe it…? Have you ever had one of those days? You know, the one that started with your sleeping right through your alarm. Your day started in chaos and only seemed to go downhill from there. Those are the days when we’re most tempted to ditch the gym or the run. You drag yourself to the gym and you take out all your frustration in Tae Bo, or on the treadmill. Your bad mood gave you extra strength and you pounded through the routine, or cranked the treadmill up by an extra km/hour. And afterwards? You felt so much better! This is caused by the release of the “feel good” hormones or endorphins, into your bloodstream. These endorphins course through your body and suddenly that lousy day doesn’t seem so bad.
It decreases the risk of Osteoporosis: Weight bearing exercise and resistance training are excellent ways to prevent the loss of bone density. How? By strengthening the surrounding muscles and ligaments. It’s not only our muscles that get bigger and stronger with exercise. Regular exercise, involving resistance and weight bearing exercise will also increase the strength and density of the bones. This, in turn, will reduce the risk of fractures in our twilight years.
It keeps us flexible: Especially if you remember to stretch, it does! Regular exercise ensures excellent blood flow – and with it, increased oxygen flow – to the muscles. This keeps the muscles flexible and supple. People who exercise regularly are less likely to suffer back pain or muscle spasms. Very importantly, we should never underestimate the importance of stretching. But never be in such a hurry that you overlook the stretches. They counteract the shortening of muscles from repetitive exercises, such as running; walking and cycling. A good stretch can make or break the experience for you. Do the right stretches, and you’ll feel pleasantly stiff the next day. Skip them, and you’ll be unable to walk!
It’s good for the Libido: Say what? You read right! We tend to live our lives too fast, which increases stress levels. Long term exposure to stress increases the cortisol levels in the body, which impacts on your sex drive. Cardiovascular exercise helps combat the stress and reduce the cortisol levels. There’s no denying that we tend to feel more relaxed after a good workout. Added to that, it increases blood flow to all parts of the body, including the sex organs. Regular exercise improves muscle tone. This is particularly beneficial in improving body image, which has the knock-on effect of enhancing the sex life. It’s simple really, the better we feel about our own bodies; the more confident we will be in the bedroom.
No two ways about it: exercise is good for us. I believe the hardest part is getting started. It takes hard work. It takes discipline. It takes effort. It will take time before you start to feel you’re making progress. But as with everything in life, it starts when we take the first step.
It takes three weeks to form a new habit. So… Start today. Go for a brisk walk. Take the dog. Or, if you’re fortunate enough to live at the coast, go down to the closest beach and climb a few sand dunes, or throw a frisbee. Just do something that will increase your heart rate and get the blood flowing. Go on, I double dare you. Take that first step today. And if you think that you need some gear for that, then we have already reviewed best stuff for you such as – ellipticals, ab machines, climbers and much more!