I know you've heard it a million times - eat right and exercise, that is the only way to be healthy, lose weight and live longer. But did you know being active and fit has more benefits than just a healthy body? There are numerous benefits for the mind, bodily functions and your attitude. Let's first define fitness.
According to the Oxford Dictionary of Public Health, fitness is the ability to engage in strenuous exercise or hard physical work without becoming breathless and having rapid heart action. This is achieved by a regimen of regular, frequent exercises. Notice - it does not say strenuous exercise! I think one bad habit we've fallen into is thinking that all exercise has to be strenuous in order to be beneficial. Instead, a routine of regular exercises (think 5 days a week), will result in fitness.
When the definition of fitness states "without becoming breathless", this will mean different things at various stages of your life. In your 20's and 30's, it may mean being able to quickly walk or even run a mile in under 10 minutes. As you get older, it may mean you can walk up a flight of stairs without getting winded. The good news is if you start an exercise program early, you are more likely to keep with it throughout your life. But, if you are later in life, you can start exercising and still reap the health benefits.
Building muscle is important at all stages of life. Muscle mass starts to decline 3-5% every decade after the age of 30 if you are not physically active. (Source: WebMd) But if you are active, you'll experience less of a decline. Unfortunately, most of us fall into the trap of focusing mostly on cardiovascular activities in order to lose or maintain our weight. But when you build muscle, you actually sustain calorie burning for a longer period of time compared to cardiovascular exercise. In fact, Livestrong states that as muscle mass increases, your body burns more calories everyday to meet your energy needs.
Now before we get into why we love fitness, just a quick note. If you haven't been active or exercising in a really long time, make sure to check with your doctor. The last thing you want to do is add something new into your routine, that may need some modification based on your current level of health. Here is why we love fitness!
1) IT MAKES US FEEL SO GOOD!
The after-exercise high is not a myth! After you've finished doing any type of exercise, not only do you feel accomplished, you've also released endorphins which are the feel good hormones in our bodies. When you exercise before you go to work, the endorphins give you a natural attitude adjustment. This can make the day so much better! So get up and do something physical. You'll be so happy you did.
2) IT KEEPS YOUR BRIAN HEALTHY.
What? Being fit results in a healthy brain? There was a study done at the University of British Columbia that showed regular, aerobic exercise boost the size of the hippocampus which is the part of the brain that is involved in verbal memory and learning. Studies have also shown that exercise can make the areas of the brain that are involved thinking and memory have greater volume compared to people who do not exercise. This is even more of a reason to get moving.
3) IT KEEPS DIGESTION MOVING.
As we get older, our digestive system can get sluggish. Exercising will help to keep things moving. How? Light exercise that increases your heart rate (think walking and casual bike riding) help to produce efficient bowel movements. More active cardiovascular exercise strengthens the muscles of the abdomen and stimulate the intestines to move contents through the digestive system. (Source: Livestrong.com) So if you have been constipated or are worried about regularity, routine exercise is an easy answer.
4) IT KEEPS YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM HEALTHY.
Have you ever heard that if you have a sniffle, exercise? I have. Exercising has a lot of benefits for the immune system and now that we are entering into cough cold season, if there is one reason to love fitness, this is it. Exercise helps to activate the sympathetic nervous system, which in turn activates the immune system response. So if you want to protect yourself against the common cold, go for a walk. Research has shown that even light exercise will give you immune system boosting benefits. (Source: Reader's Digest)
5) IT BOOSTS CONFIDENCE.
Self-care can translate into exercise. Most of my friends laugh at me when I tell them that an extra treat to myself is being able to take a second yoga class in a week. I love yoga but don't have the time to do it more than once a week. Focusing on doing something that just focuses on you, helps to build confidence. Not only do you feel great after exercising but the accomplishment you've achieved boosts confidence. In fact, studies have shown that regardless of weight, age, or gender, exercise can quickly increase a person's perception of their self-worth. (Source: Greatist.com)
Those are the reasons we love fitness. Let's us know what you think!
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