Kevin Lutz, MD, FACP
Jun 1 2019

The concept that physical activity helps keep us healthy is very old news. We have all been told time and time again that exercise is good for you, and it’s true. It’s good for a lot more than just losing weight and building muscle.

ExerciseHeart Health

The concept that physical activity helps keep us healthy is very old news. We have all been told time and time again that exercise is good for you, and it’s true. It’s good for a lot more than just losing weight and building muscle. There are many other reasons that just a little daily exercise will benefit you. Remember, almost everyone, no matter what his or her physical condition, can engage in at least some form of physical exercise! Here are ten reasons why exercise is so important.

  1. Exercises reduces blood pressure. The causes of hypertension include the increased plaque in the arteries that builds up from consuming a high-fat diet. Exercise helps reduce your blood pressure, in part, by attacking the plaque in your arteries. As the arteries widen, the blood flows through more freely, and your blood pressure starts to drop.
  2. Exercise keeps bones strong. A normal age-related change is the loss of bone mineral strength. Exercise is the key to maintaining your bones’ health. The specific form of exercise required for bone strength involves resistance training with weights (like dumbbells).
  3. Exercise improves mood. Aerobic exercise improves your mood by causing your body’s endorphins to kick in. These are the natural “feel good” neurotransmitters that start to exert their effects after about 20 minutes of physical activity. These regular exercise-related boosts improve your overall mental health over the long term.
  4. Exercise lowers anxiety. As your levels of endorphins increase, your feelings of worry also start to diminish. When you exercise, you refocus your attention from your daily problems to the workout itself. This gives you an opportunity to gain a fresh perspective on even the most preoccupying worries.
  5. Exercise boosts energy. Regular physical activity can improve your muscle strength and boost your endurance. Exercise delivers oxygen and nutrients to your tissues and helps your cardiovascular system work more efficiently. And when your heart and lung health improve, you feel more energy and less fatigue. Although going to the gym early in the morning or late in the afternoon may feel like the last thing you have energy to do, once you build exercise into your daily routines, these workouts will actually seem less tiresome because you’ll feel more mentally and physically capable of carrying them out.
  6. Exercise promotes better sleep. Although sleep experts recommend that you not exercise right before you go to bed, exercise during the day benefits your sleep at night. The physical exertion you engage in during the day helps your body’s circadian rhythm keep in tune. Sleeping better at night also improves, in turn, your immune functioning and even lowers your risk for heart disease, diabetes and cognitive impairment!
  7. Exercise boosts memory. You don’t even have to exert yourself that much to experience this memory boost. Moderate walking can help your brain’s memory center, the hippocampus, maintain its health and vitality. Memory also benefits from a general lowering of cortisol, the body’s stress hormone, associated with the improved mood and anxiety levels you experience from your regular workouts.
  8. Exercise puts the spark back into your sex life. With more muscle mass comes greater stimulation to produce androgens which help both men and women maintain their sexual functioning. Regular physical activity may enhance arousal for women. And men who exercise regularly are less likely to have problems with erectile dysfunction than are men who don’t exercise.
  9. Exercise can be fun and social! Exercise and physical activity can be enjoyable. They give you a chance to unwind, enjoy the outdoors or simply engage in activities that make you happy. Physical activity can also help you connect with family or friends in a fun social setting. So, take a dance class, hit the hiking trails or join a running group. Find a physical activity you enjoy and just do it.
  10. Exercise lowers risk of dementia. Exercise lowers your chances of developing dementia based on cardiovascular illness because you’re improving the flow of blood throughout your body, including your brain. Also, researchers have found recently that lowering a person’s risk for diabetes (through diet and exercise) can lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

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