It’s time to quit procrastinating and start exercising! The benefits of physical activity are too great to ignore.
If you feel younger, you’ll live longer. It’s more than just a saying, living longer is an actual benefit of regular exercise. People with higher levels of physical fitness have a decreased chance of dying from a variety of causes, according to a recent study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association. Physical Fitness: What Sorts of Benefits are There?
Along with extending life expectancy, research has also shown that exercise also enhances sleep, helps prevent weight gain, and reduces the risk of high blood pressure, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and even depression.
“One study found that when breast cancer survivors engaged in exercise, there were marked improvements in physical activity, strength, maintaining weight, and social well-being,” says Rachel Permuth-Levine, PhD, deputy director at the Office of Strategic and Innovative Programs at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health.
“Another study looked at patients with stable heart failure and determined that exercise relieves symptoms, improves quality of life, reduces hospitalization, and in some cases, reduces the risk of death,” adds Dr. Permuth-Levine. She points out that exercise isn’t just important for people who are already living with health conditions: “If we can see benefits of moderate exercise in people who are recovering from disease, we might see even greater benefits in those of us who are generally well.” Physical Fitness: Basics of Exercise
Physical activity doesn’t need to be strenuous to produce results. Even engaging in moderate exercise five to six times per week has been shown to lead toward lasting health benefits.
When introducing more physical activity into your life, remember these three simple guidelines:
It is best to exercise at a moderate intensity for at least 2 hour and a half hours spread over the course of each week.
Whenever possible avoid periods of inactivity, since exercise at any level of intensity is better than none.
At least twice per week you should supplement cardio (aerobic exercise) with weight training that strengthen all of your major muscle groups.
Physical Fitness: Make Exercising a Habit
The main reason most people give for not exercising is not having enough time. If it is difficult to squeeze extended periods of exercise into your current schedule, just remembered that even short bouts of physical activity in 10-minute segments will also help you achieve some health benefits. Permuth-Levine advises, “Even in the absence of weight loss, relatively brief periods of exercise every day reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.”
Be sure to set realistic goals and take small steps in order to fit more movement into your daily schedule. Some easy steps you can take to improve your fitness levels are to take the stairs instead of the elevator, and to try walking to the supermarket instead of driving there. “The key is to start gradually and be prepared,” says Permuth-Levine. “Have your shoes, pedometer, and music ready so you don’t have any excuses.”
To help keep up with your new exercise habits, it is important vary your routine. For example you could go swimming one day and take a walk or a jog on the next day. Try going out for a baseball or soccer game with your friends or family. Even when the weather isn’t great, you can always have a plan B if you use exercise equipment in your home, go to a nearby community center, or if you join a gym or a health club. The trick is to get to the point where you view exercising as something that’s just another part of a healthy lifestyle like brushing your teeth, eating healthily, and getting enough sleep. Remember that your physical fitness goals are attainable. Even by making small changes to your daily routine, you can gain large rewards that will pay off for years to come.