It’s not too hard to come up with a list of the benefits of exercising. Restricting the number to five, however, is more difficult because there are so many. Following are the most important to your health and happiness. They are:
Exercise can help you stick around longer
The New York Times reported after two large longevity studies involving 661,000 adult subjects and the results were interesting. In the first study, the subjects were divided into several groups who exercised in varying amounts, from none at all to 25 hours or more. The groups were followed for 14 years, and deaths were noted. Those who did no exercise had the highest risk of death. A little effort reduced the risk by 20 percent. Those that met the exercise guidelines of 150 minutes a week showed a 31 percent drop, and those who tripled the recommendation (450 minutes) did the best: a 39 percent drop. However, beyond that point, there was no further decrease.
The second study, done in Australia and involving 200,000 people, gave similar findings. Those who included strenuous exercise during 30 percent of their routine workout time dropped the death risk by 9 percent when compared to moderate exercisers. Exercisers who spent more than 30 percent of the workout time dropped the risk another 13 percent.
Exercise helps you live a healthier as well as a longer life
A long life should be as active and productive as possible. Good health is the key. Regular exercise is famously recognized as a key prevention as well as healer of many major diseases and conditions. The list of chronic diseases that exercise lowers the risk of is long, according to the CDC. It helps with weight control. Obesity is the cause of many illnesses. Illnesses such as heart disease, stroke, arthritis, some cancers and more have a lowered risk due to exercise. Exercise has been shown to lower the risk of breast, lung, colon and endometrial cancers. It has been credited with a lower risk of hip fractures in the elderly and also with a better quality of life, increased mobility and ease of everyday tasks.
Live longer, healthier and even happier
In a review of studies on depression done at Harvard University going back to 1981, it was shown that people with mild to moderate depression can be helped by exercise. A study in 1999 compared the use of antidepressant drugs and exercise for lifting the moods of depressed patients. Three groups were given either medication, instructions to exercise or a combination of both. A follow-up showed that the exercisers did as well as the medication group and the effects of the exercise lasted longer.
Exercise activates the endorphins, body chemicals that elevate mood as well as lower pain. Regular exercise helps non-depressed people feel better emotionally as well, boosting self-esteem.
Live longer, healthier, happier and even look better too!
Exercise, of course, controls weight and makes you more fit. However, it can convince you that you look better even if you don’t. A study reported by the University of Florida showed that people who exercise moderately can feel as good about their bodies as trained athletes.
“You would think that if you become more fit that you would experience greater improvements in terms of body image, but that’s not what we found,” said Heather Hausenblas, co-author of the study. “It may be that the requirements to receive the psychological benefits. . . differ substantially from the physical benefits.” Her study reviewed 57 publications and found that people’s self-evaluation of their bodies improved greatly with exercise, even with no obvious benefits.
People with the worst perceptions of their body image don’t exercise much at all. They should know that doing practically any exercise on a regular basis can help, even short periods of low intensity activity.
All that exercise helps you at bedtime
It is well-known that exercise improves energy, and that raises the sex drive. Women who work out have an enhanced arousal level. Men have less problems with erectile dysfunction. After all is said and done, exercisers fall asleep faster and sleep deeper than non-exercisers.
Nevertheless, don’t forget: Exercise can and should be fun, not drudgery. Do activities you like. Get outdoors. Join with friends or family. See it as a challenge to yourself. Set goals, or just enjoy working out.