Even if you don’t think you particularly enjoy exercise, the truth is that even when it is hard, it is a lot more fun than losing your health, your quality of life, and your money as you pay high medical bills.
Your body needs exercise. Physicians and scientists have known for a long time that getting regular exercise and being physically active are good ways to gain many health benefits. Here’s how it can make a difference in your life:
- Being physically active burns calories. The more intense the exercise, the more calories you burn. As a result, you are less likely to gain weight, and if you’ve lost weight, you are more likely to maintain the loss. If you think you don’t have time to go to the gym every day for a couple of hours, that doesn’t mean you can’t become more active in other, less demanding ways. Use household chores as an excuse to get exercise, or sneak exercise into your daily routine by opting for the stairs instead of the elevator. Be inventive. Opportunities to exercise are all around you.
- Cardiovascular disease is less likely to occur when your blood is flowing smoothly through your body. What keeps the flow smooth? A good place to start is having high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and low triglycerides. HDL removes triglycerides and keeps the inner walls of blood vessels clean and healthy. Triglycerides are a kind of fat called lipids. Your body makes them from excess calories and stores them in fat cells. It turns out that one great way to boost your HDL and lower your triglycerides is through exercise.
- Exercise also prevents or mitigates many other health problems and concerns. You are less likely to have a stroke or to develop arthritis, depression, some forms of cancer, metabolic syndrome, and type-2 diabetes. You are also less likely to fall because you will be stronger and can work on maintaining your ability to balance.
- Exercise is a good way to get rid of stress or to boost your mood. Half an hour at the gym or walking briskly through your neighborhood will stimulate chemicals in your brain that cause you to feel happier and more relaxed. Regular exercise is likely to improve your appearance as well, which in turn can lead to increased self-confidence and self-esteem.
- Exercise strengthens muscles and improves endurance. Physical activity, including exercise, helps your blood deliver oxygen and nutrients more effectively to your body’s tissues. It also helps the entire cardiovascular system work the way it is supposed to. The result is more energy as you go about your day.
- People who exercise are more likely to fall asleep easily and enjoy deeper sleep throughout the night. What if the only time you can exercise is right before you go to bed? Recent research suggests you may not have any problem with falling asleep even if you exercise just before bedtime. If you try it and end-of-day exercise is a problem for you, see if you can move your exercise to an earlier time. Ideally, aim for exercising at least three to four hours before your bedtime. Stay away from caffeine before you start, drink plenty of water while you are exercising, try reserving less strenuous or lower intensity exercise for the evening, and bathe before bed. Using a sauna or taking a warm bath or shower can be helpful because when you finish, your body’s temperature will drop and your body will be more likely to start shutting down, making it easier to sleep.
- Exercise is good for your sex life. It helps women become more easily aroused, and men are less likely to experience erectile dysfunction. That’s in addition to making both partners feel better, have more energy, and look better.
- Dancing, hiking, and being on a sports team can be fun. Going outside and enjoying the beauties of nature, or doing physical activities that you genuinely like, are both smart ways to make sure that you will continue to exercise for many healthy years to come.
How much exercise should you get? Experts recommend thirty minutes a day, five or six days a week. If you are out of shape, you will want to start slowly and then work up. If you are overweight or obese or you have specific fitness goals you’d like to achieve, you may need to exercise more than that. Talk to your physician in order to get a recommendation that’s right for you. Remember, too, that it’s always a good idea to talk with your physician before you start something major like a new exercise regime. This is especially true if you are older, have chronic health conditions, or are concerned about any aspect of getting more active.
Are you going to get sweaty when you exercise? The answer is probably yes. If you don’t sweat, you probably aren’t exercising hard enough. Buy comfortable exercise clothing so you won’t ruin your regular clothes and plan on taking a shower to rinse off afterward.
Exercise is good for you in so many ways. All you have to do is make a plan and stick to it. Even if you don’t think you particularly enjoy exercise, the truth is that even when it is hard, it is a lot more fun than losing your health, your quality of life, and your money as you pay high medical bills. Exercise and its benefits are definitely worth a little sweat and a few more showers.