The Benefits of Exercise
There are things we know we must do to survive, and we do them quite often without much thought or consideration. We know that we must sleep; it is a necessity for proper function of our bodies and your mind is not capable of dealing with even the most basic of tasks when there is a shortage of it. We know that we must eat; for if we don’t, our body reminds us regularly otherwise. We know we must take in fluids for our organs to function properly, and at the most basic level, we know we need oxygen to breathe. Along with these should be the necessity of exercise for good health and longevity.
When you go out in public, you only have to look around for a short while to see the negative effects of too little physical activity in our culture. There are motorized wheelchairs being used by people other than those who have actual injuries or disabilities. You see more plus-sized and big and tall clothing than what is actually in the normal range.
There are people who have to purchase two tickets because they cannot fit into one seat on an airplane. Also, (and this is probably the saddest illustration) there is now a high demand for over-sized caskets. What a sad, sad picture of our culture today.
There are also other culprits that assist the lack of physical activity in the deterioration of our country’s health. Things like gigantic portions, super-sized meals, processed school lunches, even escalators and elevators are contributing to the laziness and decline in health of our society.
The results of all of these contributing factors are scary; increased chronic diseases, (which actually lead to a rise in medication prices and insurance rates) shorter life expectancies, higher stress, and just a general decline in the quality of life for so many.
However, we cannot blame these temptations and conveniences for all our problems. That would be like blaming the cigarette companies for people dying of lung cancer. Nobody is forced to smoke, just like nobody is forced to eat three greasy cheeseburgers and drink a gallon of soda a day.
The truth is, too many have made poor health choices and are now just too lazy or feel too helpless to do anything about their situation.
The great thing is that there is a solution. Exercise is the answer and possibly the cure for so many of the issues facing members of our society. The paybacks of exercise are known by many, but sadly, still not utilized by the vast majority of Americans. Here are just a few of the more common benefits:
Battle the Bulge – This is a no-brainer. When you participate in physical exercise, you burn more calories, which of course will help you manage your weight. The great thing is, you can burn calories in a lot of little, very simple ways.
Taking the stairs, parking at the back of the parking lot, and taking a walk on your lunch break are just a few easy examples. Better Zzzzzz’s – Exercise can help you fall asleep faster and sleep deeper (which of course is more restful.) However, the variable here is time of day.
Experiment with your own body to find out which time of day works best for you to fit in a workout. Most likely, waiting until late in the evening will cause an adrenaline rush that can actually keep you awake.
More Get-Up and Go – How often have you watched a 4 year-old run circles for hours and thought to yourself, “man, I wish I could have that kind of energy?” Well, think about how active most young children are. It only makes sense that they would have so much energy. (Now I know that they don’t have the pressures and stressors that adults do, but work with me here!)
The truth is that exercise delivers oxygen and vital nutrients to your tissues, which benefits your whole body; but mostly you cardiovascular system. And when your heart and lungs are functioning better, your energy level is bound to improve.
Get Rid of the Blues – It is a scientific fact that physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals that can actually make you feel happier and more at ease. Realize that this feeling may not occur during exercise necessarily, (when you are sweating and straining and feeling like you can’t do it…) but afterward, there is a great high. Exercise can actually be addictive. No kidding!
Keep Illnesses at Bay – I don’t know how many stories I have read about people who have taken up exercise after years of having a sedentary lifestyle, and have seen miraculous results in the improvement of their health.
Many people are able to stop taking medications that they have relied upon for years. It has been shown in medical studies that exercise can help battle heart disease, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, and type-2 diabetes.
If you have issues with, or have a family history of any of these debilitating illnesses, what a great motivator for getting fit! Also, people who exercise regularly have a stronger immune system and are less prone to falling ill with common viruses.
Make Connections – Are some of your personal relationships suffering because of a shortage of self-confidence due to your lack of physical fitness? I have to admit, I have been there.
After the births of both of my sons, I felt extremely out of shape; which led to embarrassment and self- conscious feelings about my size. This in turn affected the level of physical intimacy between me and my husband.
When I started working out again, I not only had more energy and felt more like myself, I also felt better and more confident about my body. This isn’t just true for romantic relationships either. Often times, it can affect your friendships as well.
If you aren’t at a healthy weight, most of the time you aren’t a very happy person, and you might not be a lot of fun to be around. It can be uncomfortable as well to be around someone who is constantly berating their own looks.
The Domino Effect – Nine times out of ten, when I start the day off with a little physical exercise, I feel compelled to make better, healthier choices throughout the day. I drink more water, I want to eat smaller portions, and I desire healthier foods because I don’t want to blow all of the hard work I’ve already put in.
Even if you can’t exercise first thing in the morning, this can still be true if you are mindful of the choices you are making. What’s more, when you get into the habit of exercise, it’s almost like you body begins to crave that physical activity, and keeping it up isn’t so hard after a while.
Tons of Fun – The last (and I believe one of the best) reason for exercise is the fun factor. It is enjoyable to get moving! There is no drug or amount of chocolate in the world that can replace the feeling you get when those endorphins start flowing. And it doesn’t have to be a solo activity either.
Work out with a friend and have fun competitions with one another, or get your whole family involved! Pick activities like hiking, swimming, canoeing, or cycling that the whole family can enjoy together. You’ll feel great and make some great memories together as well.
Don’t waste time- It is never too late, and there’s no time like the present to get started on a healthier, more energetic you!