Straight, No Chaser: The Benefits of Exercise and Other Physical Activity
At Straight, No Chaser, we understand it’s the most optimistic time of the year. You’ve made many New Year’s resolutions, usually related to smoking cessation, eating better, lowering your levels of stress and starting an exercise routine. We’re here to help. The next several posts will feature our best advice to educate and motivate you as you pursue those goals.
As we begin the conversation on exercise, we will split the conversation into the “why” and the “how.” This post will remind you of why keeping your body moving is so important and why, no matter your age, sex, ethnicity, physical condition or presence of existing disease, you can improve from your current state.
Remember that your heart is a muscle, the purpose of which is to pump blood with its nutrients and oxygen around the body, supplying your organs. The more efficiently that muscle performs, the healthier you’ll be, because your vital organs will stay nourished. It’s important to restate that everything is relative, so starting with most any regular activity that’s more than your current baseline will improve your conditioning and eventually your health.
How, you might ask! Here are medically established ways that a routine of regular exercise provides physical and mental health benefits.
- Exercise controls your weight by burning calories.
- Exercise reduces your risk of cardiovascular disease by improving your heart’s function. It lowers the risk of both heart attacks and strokes.
- Exercise reduces your risk for type 2 diabetes and combinations of high cholesterol, high blood pressure and high glucose levels (together known as metabolic syndrome).
- Exercise specifically reduces your risk of colon and breast cancers, and it probably reduces your risk of endometrial and lung cancers.
- Exercise improves the functioning of your immune system.
- Exercise strengthens your bones and muscles, and it keeps your joints functioning well.
- Exercise maintains your mobility and agility, it improves your ability to perform the activities of daily living and prevent falls as you age.
- Exercise slows the development of arthritis.
- Exercise improves your mental health and mood by stimulating pleasurable parts of your brain and improving blood flow to your brain.
- Exercise reduces the rate of depression.
- Exercise reduces the development of insomnia and other sleep disorders.
The sum total of these facts is that exercise increases your chances of living longer.
At Straight, No Chaser we talk a lot about healthy and unhealthy decisions and the impact these decisions have on the length and quality of your life. There aren’t many lifestyle decisions you can make that will more positively impact those than the decision to stay physically active. Furthermore, that decision doesn’t need to be followed by the fear that in order to improve your health you have to turn your body into that of a stereotypical teenager, body builder or model. Moderate activity will produce measurable health improvements. In a subsequent post, we will explore the “how” of physical activity to improve your health, but for now, don’t just sit there. Do something!
If you can sprint, do so.
If you can’t sprint, jog.
If you can’t jog, walk.
Even it you can’t walk, move what you can!
Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant if you have any questions on this topic.
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