Exercise has many definitions, but for the purpose of this blog, exercise is a sustained physical activity that is done for health benefits or to achieve a physical performance goal to achieve a physical task. Examples of exercise are jogging, walking, hiking, weight training, playing sport or any sustained physical activity. Exercise can have many health benefits, from mental to physical. Some of the most important ones are:
1. Weight Control
Regular physical activity can help maintain or help you lose excess weight. Exercise requires the use of energy, which means exercise can be used to burn extra calories that you have consumed. It also helps with losing weight through creating a caloric deficit (expending more calories than consumed). Exercise is a great tool to help you control your weight. Excessive weight can lead to many unwanted health risks, which we will cover later on. Apart from expending unwanted consumed calories, exercise helps increase metabolic rate. When dieting metabolic rate can drop significantly, it is your bodies natural defense system to when you are eating less. Metabolic rate is the rate at which you use energy, so increasing or maintaining your metabolic rate can give you extra help in losing unwanted body fat.
2. Reduces Chronic Disease
Exercise can reduce increased health risks from chronic diseases such as:
It must be noted that most of these illnesses are due to obesity or being over weight. Through this one can understand that regular exercise or any physical activity should be in anyones daily routine since its directly related to your overall health and longevity.
3. Improved energy levels
It might sound counter intuitive, especially if you are experience in the first place, but exercising can boost energy levels. First, there are changes that occur at a cellular level inside your body when you start exercising. Physical exertion pushes your body to produce more mitochondria in your body, to be precise in your muscle cells. Mitochondria are the part of the cells that create fuel for the body for movement out of glucose which you get from eating food. Having more mitochondria increases your bodies ability to produce more energy Exercise also improves circulation, which in turn increases your bodies ability to deliver oxygen to your muscles. A boost in oxygen helps mitochondria’s energy production because the presence of oxygen is needed in order for mitochondria to produce energy; this in turn also helps the body function better and use energy more sufficiently. Lastly, regular exercise helps boost hormone levels. With the increase in blood circulation, endorphins (the hormone responsible for the ‘high’ you feel after a workout) get released into the blood stream which in turn raise your energy levels.
4. Keeps bones and muscles healthy
Exercise helps the body build and maintain strong bones and muscles. Through physical activity we can prevent muscle breakdown and keep our bones healthy. Strength training stimulates muscle building and denser bones, this is important because as we age we tend to experience muscle mass loss and weaker bones, which in turn can lead to risk of injury. Through exercise, we release hormones that help build muscle by increasing the ability to absorb more amino acids. Absorbing amino acids is essential for muscle growth and reducing muscle breakdown. Also exercises like strength training and high-impact sports like running can increase bone density which will be useful later on in life to maintain healthy body movement and prevent osteoporosis and osteoarthritis.
5. Mental Health - Stress, depression, better sleep, Memory/thinking
Exercise is not just about physical health. Yes, it will help with body weight, physique, and energy levels, but it also lets people who exercise have a state of mental well-being. It helps with anxiety, depression, self-confidence, stress, and other mental health challenges. Research has proven that even modest amounts of exercise can have a big impact on your mental health. Research has shown that exercise can treat mild to moderate depression as effectively as antidepressants, which is far better than medication since there are no side effects (a part from a better looking physique!). A study done by the
Harvard Chan School of Public Health found the running 15 minutes or day or walking up to an hour can decrease the risk of depression by 26%. Exercise combats depression in several ways. It promotes different changed in the brain like neural growth, reduced inflammation, and new activity patterns that forge feelings of calm and wellbeing. Through exercise we also release endorphins which give us energy and make us feel good (like stated above). It has been proven that there is a link between your mind and body in relation to your wellbeing. When you’re experiencing stress you might experience tension in your muscles (face, neck shoulders, back pain), headaches, stomach problems and so on. Which in turn causes more stress and turns into a vicious cycle. Exercise is a great way to relieve stress; it releases endorphins and relaxes your muscles and relieves tension in the body. When your body feels better so will your mind. Other mental problems that exercise can help with is memory and thinking and better sleep. Which to contribute to overall better mental health. Exercise increases circulation in the head which stimulates the growth of new brain cells which helps with clearer mental thinking and a better memory. Physical activity also helps regulate your sleeping patterns. Sleep is imperative to your metal and also you physical well being. Even short and low intensity exercises like stretching or yoga can help contribute to a better nights sleep.