23 Great Reasons to Exercise Believe me, I have more reasons if you would like to chat!
Exercise, coupled with whole food eating & whole health lifestyles, may be the closest thing to the fountain of youth. Not only does regular activity strengthen your muscles and improve heart and lung function, but it can also reduce your risk of major diseases, stimulate the growth of new brain cells and even add years to your life. Studies show just 30 minutes of physical activity on most days is all that's required to reap big benefits. A simple walk that we start and finish with a round or two of push-ups and we are on our way to creating healthy fitness.
The range of health bonuses now attributed to exercise has surprised even doctors. I am completely amazed this is not common sense! We need research to prove moving our body, the way nature intended, is good for us??? What has happened to human beings' collective common sense???
OK... let's look at the benefits of daily exercise, moving your body:
1. Keeps you younger than your actual chronological age. Exercise boosts the amount of oxygen you consume during and after exercising. This benefit of increasing oxygen consumption is how we increase our aerobic capacity and live longer. More oxygen to the cells means healthier cells and longer cell life spans. The longer your cells live, the longer you could live! Every minute of good exercise and it does not need to be hard, pounding exercise, adds two to three minutes to your life! Can you get payoffs like that with any other investment? Aerobic exercise has also been shown to perhaps stimulate the growth of new brain cells in older adults. Makes sense to me that it stimulates the growth of new brain cells in anyone who exercises!
2. Healthier, glowing skin. When we exercise we increase our oxygen intake capabilities (see above) and increase our circulatory function. This means blood, lymph and intra-cellular fluids all move about your body more efficiently. The micro capillary beds of your face (really, your whole body’s skin) work at top notch keeping you young and vibrant looking. More oxygen and food nutrients will arrive at your cells and cellular waste products will more efficiently removed from your cells. This means better waste removal both through efficient respiratory expiration and your fluid circulation. End result: healthier cells, including skin cells. Your skin and whole body will glow with health!
3. Fewer asthma problems. Yoga breathing exercises have .long been used to increase respiratory capacity and ease the symptoms of asthma. When people with mild asthma exercise regularly and increase theiraerobic capacity and their lung strength, they can reduce the need to use their inhalers.
4. Boost the immune system and reduces infections. Your immune cells work faster and more efficiently when you are a regular exerciser. Those white cells rev up their aggressiveness against antigens entering your body. A better functioning immune system cuts down on the viral and bacterial ills we pick up; cold, flus, etc.
5. Better blood sugar control. When you exercise (and eat a whole food diet) your body will shed the extra pounds. This creates a stable blood sugar regulation mechanism; lower insulin levels, lower and stable levels of blood sugar. What a great way to prevent diabetes. If you are an adult onset diabetic, what a great way to heal your body from this lifestyle induced disease.
6. Lessen your risk for cancer. Exercise prevents constipation. A properly functioning colon is less likely to develop cancer. People with balanced blood sugars, see above, have less chance of developing colon cancer. When our bodies are functioning well from whole foods, exercise and lifestyle choices, our hormones balance out creating a lesser chance of developing hormone related cancers: breast and prostate.
7. Fewer heart attacks, prevention of heart attacks. Exercise raises your HDL cholesterol. This is the cholesterol that is considered “good,” the cholesterol reading we want to be high. Exercise is great for reducing inflammation in the body; less inflammation, less heart attacks, strokes and the resultant vascular health problems.
8. Lowers stress levels. Regular exercise reduces stress levels in the body, mind and soul creating calmer and more centered human beings. We were meant to move. Moving helps to burn up those “fight or flight” hormones in a healthy manner. Exercise is a great remedy for relieving mild anxiety, frustration and depression. Think of it as movement meditation, movement “medication!”
9. Better sleep. A body that moves daily will sleep better for all reasons: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Make it outdoor exercise and the fresh air and natural light exposure increases this benefit many times over!
10. Prevents and restores bone loss. Moving your body keeps the bones healthy and young. The bone cells lay down more new bone, preventing and reversing osteoporosis.
11. Stronger muscles, better flexibility and balance. Exercise keeps your muscles strong. Moving through full range of motion everyday keeps your muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints flexible and strong. Exercise creates balance in body, mind and spirit. Yoga is one great way to increase your muscle strength while creating better flexibility and balance for ease of movement!
12. Better organ function and health. Anything that makes your body stronger is going to make all organs, right down to your very cells, function better. Better circulation means better oxygen and nutrition being transported to the cells and better waste removal from the cells. This makes for healthier cells, organs and ultimately a healthier You!
13. Protect female and male health. Full body exercise keeps your sex hormones balanced: this means goodbye PMS and menopausal symptoms, hello healthy life! Exercise to reduce and possibly remove the symptoms of: PMS and menopause. Men benefit with lower incidence of erectile problems and increased overall “male” healthiness. Pelvic exercises, called kegel exercises, help prevent reproductive and urinary organ prolapse, clitoral erectile dysfunction and urinary leaking in females; impotence/erectile dysfunction and possibly enlarged prostate which is a common cause of urinary symprtoms in males. Women benefit as they have the same erectile tissues in their external genitalia. Men, despite not having a monthly menstrual flow, do have a monthly hormonal cycle. Regular exercise keeps this sex hormone cycle at top notch function. Because all body hormones and chemicals work in synergy, healthy sex hormones keep the rest of your body chemistry humming along in great health. Got those walking shoes on your feet? Heading out the door?
14. Weight loss and loss of belly fat. We are back to the common sense thing again, moving your body, as opposed to sitting on the couch, will keep you naturally thinner. The body was meant for movement, so it stands to reason it will be thinner with less belly fat than an inert body mass! Forty-five minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise in the morning may actually reduce your food cravings so you eat less all day. That is a healthy body bonus!
15. Reduces Inflammation. Inflammation in the body is the precursor to chronic lifestyle diseases. Reduce your bodily inflammation and you reduce disease. See heart attack information above.
16. Regulates your appetite, reduces cravings, promote healthy digestion. When you feel good from moving, you are more apt to want to accentuate these good feelings with good food, avoiding the junk. When you eat good food and feel great, you are more apt to feel like moving. What a wonderful catch 22! Movement helps to prevent and remedy constipation. Add in a 100% whole food eating plan and constipation will leave you be.
17. Lowers LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, raises HDL cholesterol. Trust me, you want this to happen! Again, see heart attack information above.
18. Improve mood, concentration, nervous system function and memory. Healthier bodies with healthier circulation means healthier brains for both intellectual and mood functioning! See section, above, on lowering stress levels.
19. Genetics. Your body will express its positive, healthy genes (epigenetics) when you exercise and eat 100% whole foods. Whole Health lifestyles turn off the negative genes that cause disease. Start flicking those healthy genes switches on today; Get Moving!
20. Attraction. Exercising makes us more attractive to others in mind, body and soul. We will attract to us people who have similar healthy lifestyles.
21. Prolong life. I think we are back to number one: exercise keeps you young! Studies lasting many years have consistently shown that being active cuts the risk of premature death by about 50 percent for men and women. You have mitochondria in your body cells; these are the powerhouses of the cells. When you exercise, you produce more and healthier mitochondria. This means your body functions better energetically, your metabolism is higher and you live longer because of your powerful powerhouses!
22. FUN! Exercise increases the fun factor in your life. Do things that make you happy. If running is not your thing, do not do it just because it is supposedly “healthy.” Do whatever makes your heart sing. Find several options that make you happy to move and mix them up. Every day do something that makes you feel good inside and out! This is your dose of daily fun that keeps you happy all day and night. Remember the sleep and lower stress benefits of exercise?
23. Create Community: Exercise with a friend or a group of friends. Healthy friendships up the fun factor of exercise and give you a positive support group from which to draw strength.
(Can you see how all of these benefits interrelate with each other? Every benefit of exercise is part of the “web” of creating better health of mind, body, & soul.)
*Adapted, revised and added to from Consumer Reports, September, 2007and Institute for Integrative Nutrition Top 10 Reasons to Exercise handout
Need I say more? Are you convinced?
Create movement magic in your life. Get outside and move. You get the added benefit of fresh air and natural light. Your body will thank you in ways you can only imagine so let your imagination run wild (or walk wild!)! Join my Movement Magic home study course in The School of Self Healing!
PS Just a word from Garfield…… “I think that tossing and turning all night should be counted as exercise!”