Why increased physical activity should be on your new year’s resolution list
Our bodies were designed to be active. Physical activity promotes a healthy heart and cardiovascular system, a healthy brain, strong bones and the muscular strength and flexibility to be able to do physical tasks without pain or injury. In today’s sedentary society, people spend a great deal of time behind desks, in cars, and in front of the TV staying active has become even more important to maintaining a healthy weight.
However, what many people don’t fully understand is that exercise is much more than a way to lose weight or strengthen muscle. Exercise can also relieve heartburn, constipation, depression and anxiety, as well as improve your mood, increase cognitive function and promote brain health. Exercise also reduces the risk of developing certain forms of cancer, such as breast cancer and colon cancer. By lowering blood pressure, total cholesterol, triglycerides (fat), and raising your “good” cholesterol (HDL), exercise can significantly reduce the risk of premature death from heart attacks and strokes. It also substantially reduces the risk of osteoporosis and diabetes.
Exercise also reduces levels of cortisol, the “stress hormone”, which increases blood pressure and blood sugar. Cortisol weakens the activity of the immune system and increases gastric secretion and inhibits bone formation. In addition to helping out with these effects of stress, many people find that exercise actually helps them reduce and control stress. Exercise offers a host of other benefits such as increased energy, improved posture & balance, better blood circulation, and a strengthened immune system. It will help you sleep better and improve your confidence and outlook on life – an important component of “wellness”. Regular physical activity can also put that spark back into your sex life; it doesn’t only make you look and feel better. Men who exercise regularly are less likely to have problems with erectile dysfunction. Regular exercise for women can lead to enhanced arousal. To look at exercise in another way, inactivity can present health risks on the same scale as smoking cigarettes. So it’s time to get off of the couch!
Many people think that exercise must be time-consuming hard work in order to be beneficial. That’s really not the case. You don’t have to be an athlete to reap the rewards of exercise. Most people find that once they get started, it is one of the most fun and invigorating things they’ve ever done for themselves.