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The New Year is officially upon us – it’s already February! But that doesn’t mean it’s too late kickstart new goals for the year. These could be resolutions to read more, cook more at home, spend more time with family, or reduce your single-use plastic consumption. Or, perhaps you have an all-time classic New Year’s resolution on your list… to exercise more! This resolution can feel daunting and maybe even difficult to achieve, especially when it always seems like there are too many things to do, and not enough time in the day to do them!

To help encourage you to stay on track with your health goal, we have gathered some proven health benefits behind regular exercise, with the help of the National Health Service of the United Kingdom. They call exercise, “the miracle cure we’ve always had, but for too long we’ve neglected to take our recommended dose.” So, here are just a few of the health benefits of getting active, however young, old, or busy you may feel!

5 Health Benefits of Regular Exercise

Promote cardiovascular health

Regular exercise can reduce your chances of developing a cardiovascular disease, and improve overall cardiovascular health! The heart is one of our 5 vital organs, meaning we cannot live without it. Exercise is a great way to reduce the risk of developing a cardiovascular disease. As heart disease and stroke are the two leading causes of death in the United States, exercise can help in directly reducing this risk. Exercise also strengthens your heart and improves circulation. The increased blood flow raises the oxygen levels in your body, helping to lower your risk of heart disease, coronary artery disease, and heart attack. Regular exercise can also lower your blood pressure and triglyceride levels.

Develop strong bones and muscles

Regular exercise strengthens your bones and muscles. Doing aerobic, muscle-strengthening, and bone-strengthening physical activity at even a moderate level can slow the loss of bone density that comes with age. One of the major benefits for your bones is that exercise significantly lowers the risk of hip fracture – a serious health condition that can have negative and life-long effects, especially in older adults. Among older adults, physical activity also reduces the risk of falling and injuries from falls. Physical activity can help promote bone growth and bone strength as well as reducing the risk of fall-related injuries.

Manage blood sugar and insulin

Regular exercise can lower your blood sugar and help your insulin work at its maximum capacity. This helps cut down your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure, low HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol), high triglycerides or high blood sugar. You will actually start to see these benefits with levels of physical activity below the recommended 150 minutes a week! Additional amounts of physical activity have been seen to lower the risk even further.

Emotional and psychological benefits

Exercise doesn’t always have to be about the physical benefits... in fact, it shouldn’t! There are amazing emotional benefits to exercise as well. Physical exercise can help you destress after a stressful day, ease your mind, and provide a lift in your mood. This is especially true once you find the type of exercise that works best for you! Your neighbor might love her spin class, but if you cannot stand the site of a stationary bike, try something else. From dancing and swimming, to yoga and rock climbing, there is a plethora of options out there for you to try!

Physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals that may leave you feeling happier, as well as more relaxed and less anxious. Exercise can increase the release of endorphins – the “happy chemicals” – that act in a similar way to pain medicine in their interaction with your brain’s neurotransmitters. These endorphins are naturally released during exercise and have been shown to reduce depression as well as increase feelings of post-workout euphoria. Exercise can also help to boost your self-confidence and self-image, which will help to increase your perception of your self-worth.

Maintain a healthy weight

The 5th benefit of regular exercise is that it can help you get to or stay at a healthy weight. Along with a healthy and well-rounded diet, physical activity plays an essential role in maintaining a healthy body weight, losing excess body weight, or maintaining successful weight loss. When it comes to weight management, it varies greatly person to person in how much physical activity is necessary to see results. Some may need to be more active than others to maintain a healthy weight. Regular trips to the gym are great, but don’t worry if you can’t find a large chunk of time to exercise every day. Any amount of physical activity is better than none at all. Taking the stairs instead of the elevator or revving up your household chores also goes a long way. Consistency is key!

Overall, physical exercise has many health benefits alone. Partnered with a healthy diet and good lifestyle choices, exercise can help you in many aspects of your life, whether you want to feel better physically or mentally. It is okay to start slow. Try a brisk walk tomorrow morning and eventually work your way up to a full jog. Everyone has different starting points and goals. Try what works best for you in promoting a long and happy life!

 

 

 

 

References:  

https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/exercise-health-benefits/

https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/pa-health/index.htm

https://medlineplus.gov/benefitsofexercise.html

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/exercise/art-20048389

https://truefitness.com/resources/mental-emotional-benefits-exercise/

 

 

 

 

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