Looking for the fountain of youth? Lace up your sneakers and get moving. You won’t find the secret of living long and healthfully in a pill, a potion, a lotion or a magic spell. But you will find yourself with more energy, a better outlook and, most important, better health by making physical activity part of your daily schedule. Need more incentive? Check out this list of benefits.
1. Reduces heart disease risk
Numerous studies have shown that regular exercise significantly reduces the risk of heart attack. Exercise protects against heart disease by improving your cholesterol profile and reducing your triglyceride levels. These changes help cleanse the blood of fats that can block arteries. Exercise also lowers blood pressure, which reduces physical stress on the heart.
2. Prevents osteoporosis
The development of the bone-thinning disease osteoporosis can be slowed through regular weight-bearing exercises like walking, jogging, stair climbing and aerobics.
3. Controls diabetes
People with diabetes either don’t produce enough insulin, a hormone the body needs to make use of sugar, or their bodies don’t respond normally to it. Their resulting high blood-sugar levels can cause many serious complications. Exercise reduces the body’s need for insulin, which improves blood-sugar levels. Studies show that adult-onset diabetes is much less likely to develop in active people than in nonactive people. For those who have the disease, regular exercise may help reduce or eliminate the need for medication.
4. Fights obesity
Combined with a low-fat diet that provides the right number of calories, regular exercise helps prevent obesity. Exercise is part of every effective weight-loss program. When excess weight is dropped, the risks for heart disease, hypertension, diabetes and osteoarthritis drop along with it.
5. Increases flexibility
Regular exercise strengthens muscles and keeps joints, tendons and ligaments more flexible, allowing active people to move freely and easily.
6. Elevates mood
Health experts say exercise can have a positive effect on a person’s mood, including a reduction of anxiety and tension. It even shows promise in easing symptoms of depression.
7. Reduces hot flashes
While there isn’t much research to prove that exercise reduces hot flashes, there’s reason to believe that exercise may help menopausal women cope with the discomfort of this symptom. By improving circulation, exercise can make the body more tolerant of temperature extremes and able to cool down more quickly. Exercise also strengthens the endocrine system, so that the adrenal glands and the ovaries function more efficiently.
8. Lessens discomforts of pregnancy
Regular aerobic exercise during pregnancy improves circulation, which improves the transportation of oxygen and nutrients to the fetus. Exercise can also lessen some of pregnancy’s discomforts, such as backache, tiredness, fluid retention and hemorrhoids. Plus, the endurance that exercise builds helps women cope with labor.