Physical Fitness: The Top 5 Advantages and Benefits of Exercise
Muscles and Bones
Stronger muscles are a pretty obvious benefit of exercise. Physical activity, specifically resistance or weight training, causes a chemical reaction in your body that helps build muscle mass. Muscle mass is important because, as you age, you lose muscle mass, which is a bad thing. This can lead to injuries and mobility issues.
Becoming stronger will allow you to do things easier, like lifting your kids or moving furniture. Your muscles are responsible for your ability to move. Imagine, the stronger you are, the easier it is to move. But muscles also take care of movements on the inside or your body. Muscles helps you breath and move blood around your body.
Resistance training is also good for your bones. Exercise involving weights or resistance helps build up bone density, making your bones stronger. As you age, resistance training will help to keep osteoporosis at bay. Of course, the higher the impact of your exercise, the stronger the bones will become. Just make sure not to overdo it and break something.
A proper diet, and supplements, can increase the affects that exercise has on your muscle growth and bone density. Don’t forget to use protein to help repair and build muscles. Calcium will assist with building stronger bones.
One of the unexpected benefits that I have noticed from my visits to the gym is that I am able to get out of a low riding car without having to grab on to something or push off the seat. I never thought about that when doing all of those crunches at the gym.
Some people consider their weight as an aspect of how they look. This is an important perspective and can result in a better mood and more self esteem. How you feel you look in the mirror should be more important for self esteem than how much you weigh in pounds. Tight fitting clothes may also lead to a poor mood, let alone the physical discomfort.
Weight plays a broader role in your physical health though. Gaining too much weight can be bad for your heart and your joints. Generally, the more you weigh the harder your heart must work. Obviously, the more weight your body must carry around, the harder your joints must work as well.
After I had cleaned up my diet and was getting regular physical activity for a while, people started to notice that my clothes were now fitting looser. When people mentioned I looked slimmer, that really made me feel good about myself and gave me more motivation to keep heading to the gym.
My blood pressure was up in the border line area a couple of years ago. I headed to the gym and I lost about 10 pounds over a few months and my blood pressure dropped back down to the healthy zone. With moderate exercise and a proper diet, it isn’t all that hard to lose 1 pound per week. I don’t go all out with physical activity either, most of my exercise includes resistance training 3 days per week, and 10,000 steps a day.
Exercise is synonymous with better heart health, especially aerobic activities. But resistance activities also help the heart. Losing weight is one thing you can do to improve your overall health, especially heart health. Aerobic exercise, like biking, jogging, or anything that really gets your heart beating, is very good for your cardiovascular health. I don’t particularly like to run or jog, so I resort to brisk walking.
It is said that losing just 5% or 10% of your body weight can have significant results on health such as lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglycerides. These measurements are all related to your heart health. You should at least be checking your blood pressure on a regular basis.
Building a stronger heart will help fight diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. A stronger heart means more blood is pumped through your body more easily. Prolonged physical activity will also result in a lower resting heart rate over time.
Exercise also reduces what is called chronic inflammation. This type of inflammation has been linked to heart disease, stroke, diabetes and even some forms of cancer. Just imagine, preventing serious health issues could be as easy as playing sports with friends on a regular basis or enjoying nature and you walk briskly down a local trail.
Exercise relieves stress which will improve your mood and have a significant impact on your mental health. When you exercise, this activity increases the levels of norepinephrine in the brain. It is believed that exercise also improves the body’s stress response and therefore makes you better able to handle stress in the first place.
I know when I am feeling anxious or stressed, a visit to the gym almost always leaves me feeling stress free and in a better mood. It is as if the physical exertion of pushing and pulling weight burns the anger or frustration away. I usually follow my resistance training with a 10-minute sit in the sauna for further relaxation. Mental health is one thing I take very seriously, and regular physical fitness is one of the greatest ways I know to improve and maintain my mood.
When you exercise, your body releases endorphins. Endorphins are said to be the bodies pain chemicals. These endorphins have been compared to Morphine, minus the addictive properties. Endorphins also leave you feeling relaxed and at peace because they work as sedatives. Most of us have heard of the runners high that people often achieve simply from exerting themselves on a track or sidewalk.
Another great benefit of physical fitness is self confidence. After hitting the gym for a few weeks, I felt more confident in myself. For that matter, these days I usually feel confident after one session at the gym. Maybe that has to do with the boost of endorphins. But as time goes on and I start to see the effects of my hard work, like weight loss and tighter muscles, that gives me a big boost in my self confidence as well.
While performing exercise uses up energy, regular exercise will provide you with more energy in general. Fitness increases your cardiovascular system as mentioned previously. Part of an increased cardiovascular system means more blood pumping through your body to your brain and muscles. When you increase your lung capacity through fitness, you also increase the amount of oxygen contained in the blood. On top of this increase in blood flow and oxygen levels in the blood, your heart will also be able to pump blood around your body more efficiently. That sounds like a triple threat to me.
Don’t forget that your muscles are also stronger and now they are being fed more oxygen. Regular exercise will make doing things that require physical strength easier to accomplish, resulting in more energy for other things. Walking up a flight of stairs will become noticeably easier. Carrying groceries from the car to the house will no longer leave you out of breath.
Relaxation is also to be expected from all this hard work. Undoubtedly, you have relieved a lot of stress from lifting those weights or running up that hill. Now you should feel relaxed, but you should also sleep better at night. And now that you are sleeping more sound, you should feel energised and be better able to tackle what the day has in store for you.
One thing most people find difficult is staying motivated or sticking with a program of regular physical activity. I have found that keeping score or tracking your progress can be very beneficial. I love to see how far I have come, and usually the changes in the mirror are quite gradual.
I like to keep track using technology. I take advantage of my smartphone and my smartwatch. My Samsung Gear S3 watch is amazing at keeping track of walking, running, biking, climbing, and so much more. It amazes me that it can determine when I have just used the elliptical machine. I would have guessed it would mistake the elliptical for jogging or cycling.
On my Samsung smartphone, I use the Samsung Health app for tracking all sorts of other health aspects like weight, water intake, meals, sleep, etc. I also get a lot of motivation by joining in the monthly challenges that record your steps as you have a friendly competition with people from all over the world. The current challenge for this month includes over 1.25 million people. (I can't believe I am in the top 10% of participants)
How do you get exercise?
© 2018 Lloyd Dawson