Doctors constantly tell you to engage in more physical activity because it’s good for you. But why is it good? Do you know? 

I’m going to give you a few reasons why regular exercise is so important to your health so that if a doctor ever tells you, “do more physical activity…its good for you”, you can say “I will… because NOW I know just how good it really is for me”.

  1. Heart Health

  • Exercise reduces the stress on your heart while you’re doing your daily activities. You won’t get winded as easily when climbing stairs, won’t need as many breaks if you’re playing outside.  It helps lower your blood pressure and your cholesterol.  It helps protect you from heart attack, and if you’ve already had one, then it can protect you from getting a second one.
  1. Brain Function

  • It improves your cognition! Improves your attention, and therefore school performance in you or your kids! It also improves cognition in people who have Alzheimer’s or dementia. So all groups of people can benefit.
  1. Diabetes

  • The most common type of diabetes is Type 2, aka insulin resistant diabetes. Your body can still make insulin, which helps your body use the sugar in your blood. The problem is that your body has become resistant to it, so even though you have insulin you don’t use the sugar…so you get high sugar in your blood, which does all kinds of nasty things to the rest of your organs.  But that’s a topic I will talk about another time.  How does exercise help? It makes your body more sensitive to insulin.  This means that regular exercise may normalize your blood sugar without any medications.  Or, if you are taking medications it can help reduce the amount you need to take and even the amount.  Or it will just help amplify the effects of your medications and keep your blood sugar within acceptable levels. Read More 8 reasons why you still want to eat – even after you just ate
  1. Chronic Pain Symptoms

  • Chronic pain can be and often times is debilitating. Chronic back pain, neck pain and illnesses such as fibromyalgia cause severe distress and loss of quality of life of those diagnosed.  Evidence is a bit mixed, and results are more subjective meaning that it’s based on people’s words rather than some kind of objective measurement.  Exercise has been shown to improve pain symptoms in multiple kinds of pain: lower back pain, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, and even osteoarthritis (from over use).  Important to know here… exercises, if never done before, will cause NORMAL muscle soreness. The more you do it, the more your body will get used to it and the pain will decrease.  Don’t get discouraged…You can do it!
  1. Stability and Injuries

– Exercise improves joint strength.  Strengthens the muscles around each joint. This is important to maintaining good balance and stability.  It prevents falls and injuries. Both of which are extremely important as you get older. 

  1. Bone Strength

  • Exercise improves your bone strength so that even if you do loose our balance, or trip, and fall…. In fact, muscle strength is a good predictor of bone strength. You are less likely to break something.  How does exercise improve bone strength?  Bones are meant to give support to the body, mainly the muscles.  The bones in your body adapt to the forces put on your muscles, so that if you exercise them regularly, your bones will grow stronger so they can maintain your muscle mass without injury.  Its kind of like how your muscles grow as you carry more weight.  The muscle adapts to the weight put on it.  The bones do the same.  More exercise, stronger muscles, stronger bones.  Best way to do this is exercises that use gravity.  Resistance training.  So although there are benefits to walking and running… the best exercises to benefit your bones are resistance training like weight training, or vibration exercises (means standing over a vibrating platform).  Best form of exercise regimen is one that includes weight training, endurance like cardiorespiratory exercise and exercises that improve flexibility.
  1. Immunity

  • Exercise improves your immunity! Although endurance trainers and elite athletes often report upper respiratory infections, regular moderate intensity exercise enhances your immunity! This is extremely important for all of you including me! But even more so among patients who are at higher risk of infections like those with diabetes, older age, HIV and cancer.
  1. Quality of Life

  • Quality of life refers to certain life attributes including physical wellbeing, emotional wellbeing, health status and disease status. Exercise has been linked to improved quality of life in the elderly, those with cancer, those with chronic diseases like diabetes and even Parkinson’s disease.
  1. Sleep Quality

  • Regular exercise improves sleep quality. For students for example, exercise should be maintained especially during times of high stress such as exam week to buffer the negative effects of this stress.  Exercise also increased sleep duration and deep sleep while decreasing light sleep.  Also, regular exercise can improve sleep time among older adults as well.  There is also support to the idea that overall fitness predicts sleep quality. In fact, lower physical activity lends itself to increased risk of insomnia.   It even improves sleep in those diagnosed with diabetes, sleep apnea, obesity, hypertension (high blood pressure), rheumatoid arthritis and postpartum women (after giving birth).  In sleep apnea, severity was actually decreased by weight training, not weight loss.
  1. Mood

  • Exercise has been shown to improve symptoms of depression, anxiety, and negative mood. It even improves low self-esteem. Not only that but it has shown to improve mental health in those with bipolar disorder although the data is relatively new.
  1. Healthy Weight

Regular exercise helps suppress your appetite.  This means that if you are exercising REGULARLY being the KEY…. You won’t have those nagging feelings of wanting to eat everything in sight.  Of course this isn’t the only reason you would want to eat everything you see. You can check out my other post on 8 reasons why you want to eat everything!  Don’t forget that for maintaining healthy weight, the amount of calories IN must equal the amount of calories OUT.  This is why BOTH diet and exercise are important.  If you eat 5000 calories a day and only burn 200 calories…every day… you will gain weight. This is just the way it is. So to maintain a healthy weight, or to get there… you have to eat right… and exercise regularly so you don’t always feel hungry, so your body can use energy better throughout the day and you can and will get to your weight goals.

There you have it! 11 incredible benefits of regular exercise… but wait… how much exercise should I do to actually benefit?

 The recommended amountof cardiorespiratory moderate intensity exercises like jogging, swimming, walking fast where you can carry on a conversation is: 30min at least 5 times a week for a total of 150min a week.

 Do more if you want to improve your fitness even more.  You can split those 30minutes into three 10minute sessions throughout the day too. No need to feel like it has to be in one sitting.  Or you can do some more vigorous exercise for 75minutes a week.  This includes things like running, zumba, high intensity interval training, also swimming. The trick is, you are NOT able to carry on any kind of conversation because you’re out of breath.

For weight training, it’s recommended to do at least 2 times a week.  With a minimum of 8-10 exercises that target the different muscle groups: legs, biceps, triceps, shoulders, back, and chest. Don’t forget flexibility training.

Do these about 2-3 times a week. Hold each stretch about 10-30 seconds and repeat 2-4 times until you have a total of 60 seconds per stretch. It is best to do it when muscles are warm…so warm up with cardio, or after a warm bath.  For balance and coordination… 20-30minutes per day of things like yoga or tai chi. Yoga is a great combination of flexibility, balance and coordination.

Last but NOT least… 

before engaging in any type of exercise, make sure you have a doctor give you’re a clean bill of health. Make sure to do the exercises properly to 

avoid injury, do weight training in a controlled fashion.  Ask for tips, look up workout plans that describe proper posture. Never lock any joint while performing exercises because locking knees or elbows leads to injury.

There you have it! Hope you enjoyed this articles.. lots of info but so important to know all the awesome reasons why exercise is so good for you!

Time to enjoy the day, get active and make your health a priority!