The benefits of exercise

Health & Fitness Nutrition

Exercise is good for you but you probably already new that. You know it can make you feel better, look better, give you more energy and make you stronger.

But the latest research is now showing benefits that you probably didn’t know such as preventing heart disease, type 2 diabetes certain cancers and extending and improving your quality of life.

The merits of exercise — ranging from preventing chronic health conditions to boosting your confidence and self-esteem — are hard to ignore.

So by introducing a moderate amount of exercise into your daily life, you can significantly improve your overall health, wellbeing and quality of life and there’s no excuse not to do it. Virtually everyone can benefit regardless of sex, race, age or physical ability.

Still need more convincing, then read on.

Improving Your Heart and Lungs (cardiovascular system)
When you exercise the heart has to pump harder and faster, pumping blood through your body’s intricate web of blood vessels. As the heart is a muscle this overload actually builds the heart muscle, the same way as lifting weights builds the muscles of the body and makes the heart stronger. A strong heart is able to keep the blood flowing smoothly and pump more blood to working muscles allowing you to do more without running out of steam. Exercise also lowers the build up of plaques in arteries by increasing the concentration of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol — the “good” cholesterol — and decreasing the concentration of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol — the “bad” cholesterol. Bad cholesterol is sticky and can attach itself to the arteries, which can interrupt your blood flow and cause life-threatening damage to your cardiovascular system and possibly a heart attack. In addition as the blood flows through the arteries they get stretched making them suppler and this can often prevent to onset of high blood pressure and lower your blood pressure if you already have high blood pressure.
As well as the heart, lung function is also improved. Regular exercise benefits your respiratory system by promoting rhythmic, deep breathing. Your lungs actually develop greater capacity, so you’re better able to take in oxygen to nourish your cells.

Exercise strengthens your heart and lungs. Your blood travels more efficiently, bringing much-needed oxygen from your lungs and nutrients to the rest of your body. This is one of the reasons why you generally feel refreshed and more energetic after exercise.

All these factors help reduce your risk of related diseases.

Stronger bones and muscles
Regular exercise is one of the best things you can do to prevent the bone-weakening disease osteoporosis. Strength training exercises — such as lifting weights — are particularly helpful. Also important are exercises that bear your body’s weight, such as walking and jogging.

Strength training and weight-bearing exercises help preserve bone mass and may even increase bone density. This means your bones may grow stronger.

Weight training will strengthen muscles and the result will be a lean, toned body. Muscles are very effective at burning calories,
Therefore there will be less excess calories stored in you body, calories that are usually stored as fat. You see muscle is a vital component in your body’s heating system. The more muscle you have, the more heaters you have operating in burning energy or food. In fact putting on around 0.5 kg of muscle will allow you to eat an extra 300 calories per week without affecting your weight.

Stronger bones and muscles help improve balance and co-ordination, reducing your risk of falls and also preventing you from pulling muscles and ligaments lowering the risk on injury.

Manage your weight
Exercise helps you achieve or maintain a healthy weight by burning calories. Your body needs fuel and energy to sustain life. And if you exercise, your body works harder and needs more fuel (calories). Even after you stop exercising, your body continues to burn calories for a few hours. The more intensely you exercise, the more calories you burn.

By burning more calories than you take in, you can reduce body fat. Losing body fat can make you look and feel better and can reduce your risk of obesity. Maintaining a healthy body weight eases pressure on your bones and joints, which can help prevent conditions such as arthritis.

Prevent and manage diabetes
Regular exercise, coupled with a healthy diet, is an important way to prevent and manage type 2 diabetes, a condition that affects the way your body uses blood sugar.

Exercise helps insulin work better lowering your blood sugar. Your working muscles used during exercise, use sugar for energy. To meet this energy need, sugar is removed from your blood during and after exercise, which lowers your blood sugar level.

Exercise also reduces blood sugar by increasing your sensitivity to insulin — allowing your body to use available insulin more efficiently to bring sugar into your cells.

Manage pain, stress and depression
Exercise stimulates the production of endorphins. Endorphins produce a feeling of wellbeing helping reduce stress as well as being the body’s natural painkillers. Depression can be caused by an imbalance of two chemicals, serotonin and norepinephrine. Exercise may help synchronize those brain chemicals.

Reduce your risk of certain types of cancer
Regular exercise helps lower the risk of cancers of the colon, prostate, uterine lining (endometrium) and breast. Although it hasn’t been proved, researchers think that exercise helps combat colon cancer by helping digested food move through the colon more quickly.

Exercise lowers the risk of breast and uterine cancers by reducing body fat and decreasing estrogen production. Estrogen, in turn, has been shown to support the growth of some female cancers, including breast and endometrial cancers.

Some studies have shown that exercise can lower the risk of prostate cancer but researchers are uncertain about how exercise has this effect – but somehow it does.

Sleep better
A good night’s sleep helps maintain your physical and mental health. Moderate exercise at least three hours before bedtime can help you relax and sleep better at night.

The increase in strength and endurance gained through regular exercise allows you to carry out daily task more efficiently and effectively. Exercise also has significant psychological benefits. Looking good makes you feel better about yourself, improving your confidence and self esteem

Finally exercise can prolong your life but not only will you live longer, your twilight years may be spent more independently, with less aches pain and medication resulting in the all important – a better quality of life.

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