Lasting benefits of exercise

We all know the importance of exercise; study after study tells us the numerous benefits to our body. Conversely, there are studies that show there are significant risks for not exercising; especially as we age. Without regular exercise we begin to lose strength, mobility and flexibility and this can lead to increased visits to the doctor, taking more medicines and even increased hospital visits.

However, we can prevent these issues before they start and stay healthy throughout our lifetime. There are lasting benefits to keeping active and regardless of your current level of activity, it is never to late to reap the rewards. According to the National Institute of Health’s Institute on Aging here are some of the benefits of exercise.

Benefits of regular exercise

  • Keep and improve strength which helps us stay independent
  • Have more energy to do what you want and reduce fatigue
  • Improve balance and reduce risk of falling
  • Manage and prevent arthritis, heart disease, stroke, type two diabetes, osteoporosis, and eight types of cancer, including breast and colon cancers
  • Sleep better and more deeply
  • Reduce stress and anxiety
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Control blood pressure
  • Enhance mood and reduce feelings of depression

What are the emotional benefits of exercise?

Research shows exercise is not only good for our bodies; but, also for our mental health. While exercise alone enhances mood and a positive outlook, exercising with a friend provides feelings of support, builds social relationships, and helps with motivation to keep exercising. Additionally, exercising empowers you to feel more in control and even potentially maintain cognitive function.

Exercise suggestions you can do at home or with a group

  • Walking, bicycling, swimming or dancing: Its important to add endurance activities to increase your breathing, get your heart rate up, and boost the “feel good” chemicals in your body. Any of these will easily help you with endurance.
  • Yoga: performing yoga is both a mind and body exercise since it combines physical postures, breathing exercises and relaxation. It also helps with maintaining flexibility.
  • Tai Chi: this is another mind and body exercise and often referred to as “moving relaxation” as it requires you to shift your body slowing, gently and precisely while also breathing deeply.
  • Any activities you might enjoy: these include things like gardening, tennis, soccer, jogging, taking a group exercise class, or performing calisthenics (body weight exercises).

Whatever exercise activity you choose, it’s important to check with your doctor first, and if he/she agrees get started on something you like doing as it will help you stay motivated to continue. If you are new to exercise, start out slowly and for short periods of time; as you improve you can increase the duration of exercise. Also, set a goal to workout at least three times per week and as you progress, adjust your goals both for how many times per week you workout but also by adding new exercises to help keep your body challenged with new things. Again, seek support by working out with a friend or a group. The important thing is; never give up, find something that works for you and keep at it. Your body and mind with thank you!

The information is this article is not meant to diagnose or treat any illness. Please consult your doctor for all heath related questions/issues and before beginning any exercise or nutrition program. Your doctor can help you determine an individualized plan that’s best for you.

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