By Justine Haarberg
The saying “no pain, no gain” most directly links to working out. Exercising can be tough physically as well as mentally, which is why we must remind ourselves that with a challenge, comes change. But what exactly is this “gain”? Fortunately, there are more bonuses to exercising than just losing weight and strengthening your muscles.
In order to maintain good health, one of the most important things to focus on is exercise. Whereas eating healthy has a huge impact on your overall well being, the most effective way to get healthy, along with maintaining a good diet, is exercising consistently.
According to the Center For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), benefits range from preventing cancer, to increasing your overall mood. Staying in shape can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, Type 2 Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome, some cancers, improve your mental health and mood, and increase your chances of living longer.
Breathe in Strength and Breathe Out Weakness
- Exercising Can Reduce Your Risk of Cardiovascular Disease
The American Heart Association suggests doing two and a half hours (150 minutes) of moderate physical activity (such as walking briskly) a week, or one hour and fifteen minutes (75 minutes) a week of intense aerobic physical activity (such as running) in order to decrease your risk of heart disease. Getting your blood moving when you exercise improves blood circulation, which reduces the risk of clots or blockage in the arteries. Just like your other muscles, your heart strengthens as you use it while working out. A stronger heart leads to a lower heart rate because the heart is able to pump more blood with each pulse.
Sweat is Fat Crying
- Exercising Can Reduce Your Risk of Type 2 Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome
Metabolic Syndrome is a sum of conditions such as increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol levels that result in a higher risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, regular exercise is the main way to prevent Type 2 diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome. Physical activity improves blood glucose levels, blood lipid levels, and blood pressure which reduces the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes or metabolic syndrome.
Commit to Be Fit
- Reduce Your Risk of Some Cancers
Physical activity can prevent colon and breast cancer. The National Cancer Institute (NIH) states that a 2009 meta-analysis of 52 epidemiologic studies examined the association between physical activity and colon cancer risk and found that the most physically active individuals had a 24% lower risk of colon cancer than those who were the least physically active. Similarly, a 2013 meta-analysis of 31 prospective studies revealed that the average breast cancer risk reduction was 12% lower with physical activity.
Exercise Is the Most Potent and Underutilized Antidepressant …and It’s Free
- Improve Your Mental Health and Mood
Exercise can decrease symptoms of depression and anxiety because physical activity boosts endorphin levels. Endorphins operate as analgesics (painkillers) by working with the receptors in your brain to reduce your sense of pain, as well as trigger a positive feeling in the body. If you’ve ever gone on an intense run and felt a feeling of euphoria, this is often called “runner’s high” and is a prime example of the effect exercising has on your mood. Increasing heart rate also decreases stress by stirring the production of neurohormones which improve cognition and clear your brain of stressful thoughts. Additionally, exercise helps regulate your circadian rhythm (basically your body’s internal clock), that controls when we feel sleepy or active. By improving your circadian rhythm, you will get better sleep which affects your overall mood positively.
Are You Ready to Live Young?
- Increase Your Chances of Living Longer
Lastly, physical activity lessens the risk of dying early due to heart diseases and cancers. According to the CDC, people who are physically active for about 7 hours a week have a 40 percent lower risk of dying early than those who are active for less than 30 minutes a week. A healthier heart, controlled blood sugar levels, lower cancer risk, and strong muscles and bones all contribute to an increased lifespan. Physical activity is one of the few lifestyle choices that has benefits that go as far as an increased lifespan.
By setting apart just a few hours a week to get your blood moving, you can have benefits that last your whole life. Whether you are an athlete or you haven’t worked out in weeks, these benefits will apply to you. Don’t be afraid to ease into a workout routine. Some light workouts include walking briskly or lightly jogging for either a half or full hour a day. If you are short on time, there are plenty of quick workouts for all levels of physical ability on Youtube.com. According to the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, as long as you get 150 minutes of physical activity a week, preferably broken up between 3-4 days, you will notice differences in your body as well as mental health. Being active is an easy activity that includes a lifetime of rewards.