Experts have long debated about the importance of the exercise in keeping and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. It is fact that regular exercise leads to a healthier and happier life. Physical exercise is one of the best treatments for our physical, mental and emotional health. Exercise is the miracle cure we have always had, yet many of us have forgotten this, therefore we are often suffering as a consequence. Exercise has a long list of benefits:
Reduction in Chronic Diseases
Physical activity can reduce many chronic diseases such as stroke, heart problems, diabetes and even some kinds of cancer (colon and breast cancer). Studies show that regular exercise improves mood and helps you sleep better.
Improves Body Functions
It improves the work of your heart and lungs to function more effectively and your muscles to be strong and tight. It helps the joints become more flexible and the chance of injuries is reduced. One of the benefits of exercise is that it can prevent arthritis.
Our society emphasises youthfulness, fitness and healthy body image. Exercise can help shape your body and controlling your weight. Weight problems are also linked to many diseases. Moreover, fitness can increase self-esteem, which is a strong foundation of happiness.
More Efficient Body
Exercise improves your stamina by training your body to use less energy and to become more efficient. It means that as your level of condition is improving, you use less energy for the same amount of work and your heart and breath normalise sooner from an exhausting activity.
Good Posture and Flexibility
Many exercises (i.e. yoga) are vital for a good posture. They keep our body flexible. Increased flexibility reduces the chance of injuries and improves coordination and balance. If you have tense spots, then particular stretches can help you reduce stiffness in the area and feel more relaxed.
Improves Your DNA
Exercise is affecting our DNA in the way that it can help muscle adaptation, boost the capacity of muscles and it has physiological benefits (Sternudd, 2012).
Exercise Helps Cognitive Functions and Improves Memory
Exercise programs indicate improvement in cognitive functioning for those with mild to moderate cognitive deficits (Heyn, Abreu and Ottenbacher, 2004). Another study indicated that exercise is strongly connected to a decreased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease (Hamer and Chida, 2009). While exercise can improve cognitive functioning among those who have already been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease (Cott, Dawson, Sidani, et al., 2002).
Exercise helps the creation of new brain cells in the part of the brain (hippocampus) responsible for learning and memory. It also helps certain parts of the brain to calm down. While depression and anxiety have an opposite effect. Several studies suggest that exercise may protect against memory problems.
Distract Your Mind From Worries
Exercise can help handling distracting thoughts and it helps to clear your mind. It can get your mind away from the worries and from the cycle of negative thoughts that feed your anxiety and depression.
Many studies indicate that moderate exercise has a significant effect on anxiety. It reduces stress hormones (adrenaline and cortisol) and it stimulates the production of endorphins that help you feel good. However, it is good to have other sources of happiness as well, to avoid exercise addiction (which is rare, as the lack excess is more characteristic).
Exercise positively affects the serotonergic system, which may help to reduce anxiety and improves mood.
When your body does not move for a long time it can cause anxiety. The reason for this is that we are made to move, anyway, this unused energy turns into physical tension and that into mental tension.
Exercise increases body temperature and reduces muscle tension which can increase the feeling of anxiety.
Improves Your Immune System
Exercise is necessary to regulate the immune system as well and to maintain our healthy hormone balance. It reduces immune system chemicals that can increase depression.
There are many studies that indicate that exercise imitate the effect of antidepressants on the brain. Researchers also found that exercise makes changes in skeletal muscle that can flush out the blood of a substance that accumulates during stress and is harmful to the brain (Sternudd, 2014).
Great Opportunity to Meet Others
Exercise gives a chance to make friends. It helps you to initiate contact with others and give you the opportunity to exchange ideas. Exercising with friends is a great motivator in sport and help you enjoy more what you do.
Is this all?
Of course not. These are just some of the positive outcomes of exercise. Nevertheless, these positive effects amplify each other and they affect other aspects of your life as well. These effects can help you perform better (both physically and mentally) and this way they can positively influence your career, which can increase your prosperity and well-being. Exercise can help you feel good and enjoy every day of your life.
You can combine exercise with other activities that can improve your well-being. For example walking in a park while you are getting some fresh air could be priceless. Also, you might be able to cycle and enjoy the countryside and the sunset. Or perhaps you can combine an exercise (i.e. yoga) with meditation.
- Cott, C. A., Dawson, P., Sidani, S., & Wells, D. (2002).The effects of a walking/talking program on communication, ambulation and functional status in residents with Alzheimer disease. Alzheimer Disease and Associated Disorders, 16, 81–87.
- Hamer, M., & Chida, Y. (2009). Physical activity and risk of neurodegenerative disease: A systematic review of prospective evidence. Psychological Medicine, 39(1), 3–11. doi: 10.1017/S0033291708003681
- Heyn, P., Abreu, B. C., & Ottenbacher, K. J. (2004). Meta-analysis: The effects of exercise training on elderly persons with cognitive impairment and dementia: A meta-analysis. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 85, 1694–1704.
- Sternudd, K. (2012) 'Exercise changes the DNA' KI news, Available at: http://ki.se/en/news/exercise-changes-the-dna (Accessed: 17 Jun 2014). Sternudd, K. (2014) 'How physical exercise protects the brain from stress-induced depression' KI news, Available at: http://ki.se/en/news/how-physical-exercise-protects-the-brain-from-stress-induced-depression (Accessed: 17 Jun 2014).