Every year, there are about 3.2 million estimated deaths due to insufficient physical exercise.
Worldwide, physical inactivity stands at the fourth leading risk factor for mortality, and that’s a lot, especially for something as modifiable as the amount of exercise we engage in on a daily basis.
There are several health benefits that can be gotten from being more active than you currently are; and with a supportive environment, there are so many health problems you can prevent.
As a matter of fact, engaging in exercise for just 15 minutes every day reduces your risk of mortality by as much as 14%. This can even be broken down further. For those with cancer, by exercising for up to 15 minutes per day, they reduce their risk of death by 10%, and every extra 15 minutes reduces the all-cause mortality risk by 4%. This are really huge benefits!
And so, if you desire to have increased amounts of energy and to live a lot longer, the best bet is to engage in lots of exercise. The benefits are just too much to ignore. Regardless of your age, sex or physical ability, you are sure to benefit from regular bouts of physical exercise.
You still aren’t feeling this whole ‘increased exercise’ vibe?
Check out these six interesting facts about how exercise leads to improved health:
1. Weight Control
Now, I’m not just talking about a one-off weight shedding program; but long-lasting weight control. We all know that physical exertion helps to burn those calories, but how do they stay off permanently, and not just to show off your ‘summer body’?
On a side note, have you noticed how much slimmer most waiters/waitresses are? It really isn’t rocket science to discover how much of physical exercise they engage in on a daily basis; with them spending at least 50% of their work shifts standing or walking around (that’s about as good a weight loss regimen as any). Mail carriers and janitors even do more walking; with mail carriers walking about 8 miles per day and janitors about 5 miles, while restaurant waiters or servers walk about 4 miles per day. Just think about it! It sure does good to your health and weight when you work at a job which allows you to move around a lot.
Where does that leave people who spend 90% of work time at their desks, typing away or coding something beautiful as an IT specialist?
If you find yourself skipping gym times regularly, because you’re just too tired or because you’re still at work, all hope is not lost. Any amount of activity is still better than having none at all; therefore, you need to be on the lookout for ways to inject physical activity into your daily routine.
You could make it a rule to take the stairs rather than the elevator on your way to or from your office. Take any chance you get to walk around, and remember that the key here is consistency since you aren’t doing long periods of exercise.
Also, during weekends or when you get time off work, actually go to the gym or take frequent lengthy jogs.
2. Scared About Medical Ailments? Exercise is a Way Out
Especially if you have a family history of high cholesterol, hypertension, diabetes or other medical conditions, you might be scared and trying to do everything within your reach to avoid developing same.
Your fears are valid, and exercise is one important way to stall these diseases from becoming your reality.
The good news about exercise with regards to cholesterol control, is that it boosts your High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels which is the good cholesterol. It also reduces the amount of unhealthy triglycerides and Low Density Cholesterol (LDL), also known as the bad cholesterol. Together, these factors reduce your cardiovascular disease risk.
Some of the health conditions which regular exercise can help prevent and/ or manage are: high blood pressure, stroke, metabolic syndrome, Type 2 Diabetes, Cancer, Arthritis, Mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. Exercise is also a super important factor which helps improve cognitive function, reducing death risk from all causes.
3. Are You Particularly Moody? Let Exercise Help You
I get you, sometimes we need to let off some steam instead of keeping it all in. Engaging in brisk walking or even a gym session could be all you need to stimulate your brain to secrete feel-good hormones such as serotonin and dopamine; which help you feel relaxed and less anxious.
You’ll also have a noticeable glow when you engage in exercise, as it leaves you feeling a lot better about your physical appearance and boosts your confidence levels/ self-esteem.
Also, people who are depressed experience a significant decline in symptoms (by about 47%) when they engage in aerobic exercise at least 3 times a week for about 3 months. The exercise does not just help energy levels, it also helps regulate those emotions and your cognitive abilities.
Another really cool effect of exercise is that you get to meet people who are also desirous of fitness and gaining all the benefits of exercise- just like yourself. You get to meet them at the gym, on your route whilst jogging etc.
People with mental health issues are often advised to exercise because it is very helpful in dealing with symptoms of mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety. The effects of exercise on the mind are linked to its ability to help you sleep soundly, as well as the fact that exercise readily pumps blood to the brain, enabling you to think clearly.
Virtually everyone benefits from the effects of exercise on the brain, as it increases the size of the hippocampus and increasing the connections between the brain’s nerve cells (thus enhancing memory).
4. Increased Energy Levels
There’s something to be said about people who just never run out of steam.
If you’re not naturally like that, you don’t have to feel inferior or as though you don’t match up. Exercise can help increase your energy levels, making you at par with the most motivated individuals you know (you’d be surprised to know that the basis of their motivation is also exercise!)
When you engage in exercise, increased amounts of oxygen and nutrients are readily delivered to your body’s organs and tissues, helping your cardiovascular system work seamlessly. When these organs are working efficiently, you have more energy to tackle your daily activities, perhaps making you ‘energy bunny’!
You can also take a cue from those who listen to music while working out. Doing so has been found to lead to increased performance up to 15% of the time. For example, treadmill walkers are usually up to 15% more energetic, and less interested in stopping the exercise routine when listening to music alongside. Here’s why: listening to music while engaging in exercise has a dissociative effect, helping to reduce your perception of tiredness by over 10%. Another really cool way to turn this whole thing into a party is by dancing along to the music.
5. Oh So Sweet Sleep!
Gather here, if you have issues with insomnia. Quality exercise is to insomnia, what a cat is to a rat- it eliminates it. Often, people who engage in exercise over long periods of time are able to steer clear of sleep difficulties, because exercise helps you have restful sleep.
However, it’s helpful to time your exercise so it does not fall too close to your bedtime, or you might have too much leftover energy that would keep you wide awake. You should also consider getting the right kind of mattress, especially with regards to your weight, so you can have a good sleep. The specific mattresses for heavy folks might be helpful.
6. Quality Exercise Works Hand-in-Hand With a Good Sex Life
If your sex drive is on a steady decline, you might have to infuse some exercise into your life so as to be able to fully enjoy the physical intimacy you crave. With regular amounts of physical activity, your energy levels are improved and this increases your overall confidence about your physical appearance, thereby boosting your sex life.
There is evidence to show the positive effects of exercise; for example, males who exercise regularly are 30% less likely to experience erectile dysfunction as those who do not.
As well, regular physical exercise has been noted to enhance sexual arousal in women.
If you love to have an active sexual life, you might as well hit the roads!
Can Exercise Be Fun?
I totally get it…exercise seems like so much work, and who wouldn’t be gassed out about that?
Thankfully, the truth is, physical activity can be quite enjoyable. You can choose to enjoy outdoor activities with friends and family, or to engage in certain other activities like hiking trails, or even joint activities like a dance class or a soccer team. Who says you cant have fun while exercising those muscles and burning fat? It’s no solemn activity!
Other Points in Favor of Exercise
The risk of developing a brain tumor is over 35% less likely in teens who are actively exercising
Swimmers have 50% less risk of death than those who do not exercise; with swimming reducing mortality rate by at least half.
I’m Sold On the Idea of Regular Exercise…But How Do I Start?
Getting used to an exercise regimen can be pretty tedious, even after deciding that it’s the way to go.
For most healthy adults, it is recommended that you have:
- Moderate aerobic activity for up to 150 minutes a week, or vigorous aerobic activity for about 75 minutes a week. These exercises should be spread throughout the week, and examples are running, brisk walking, swimming. No amount of exercise is insignificant.
- Exercises for strength training of major muscle groups twice weekly. Such exercises include weight lifting, making use of weight machines, body-weight training.
Your activities should be spread throughout the week, and if your aim is to lose weight or meet specified fitness goals, you might have to increase your moderate aerobic activity to about 300 minutes per week (as opposed to 150 minutes).
Before starting any vigorous exercise program, be sure to check in with your doctor.
How Much Exercise Do You Need?
Some guidelines specify that daily, you should engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate to intense physical activity on most days of the week. If you can’t have a 30 minute stretch, you can also have shorter 10-15 minute sessions to make up for it.
One very important tip with regards to exercise, is the practice of mindfulness, which helps reduce your stress levels and improve your overall mental health. As a matter of fact, some mental health care plans also come with gym memberships, and you can go for one of such if you’re bothered about cost.
Exercise should be regarded as part of your lifestyle, and not as a chore, if you aim to enjoy it at all. What this automatically means, is that you should choose exercise plans that are fun for you, so you don’t end up really detesting those couple of minutes you spend exercising everyday. If possible, invite people you care about to fit into your plan, or draw up plans that suit your committed group, the more you work out together, the fitter you become.
Whatever you do, fitting exercise into your daily schedule will do you a lot of good. However, you might not get magical effects from exercise- the effects are gradual and as they build up over time, you become a healthier version of yourself, more immune to illnesses and able to live your best possible life. Seeing as you cannot ‘buy’ health, don’t you think engaging in practices that keep you in good shape is worth it? Most likely, you do; which is why you’ve read this article up till this point. Promise me you’ll take your exercise routine seriously? Good!