Benefits of exercise: why exercise everyday?

Chances are you already are aware of the importance of exercise and ‘staying fit’ for keeping your weight in control. But the benefits of exercise are far more than this!

According to the U.S. Surgeon General’s Report on Physical Activity and Health, inactive people are nearly twice more likely to develop heart disease than active people.This is true, even if you have no other conditions or habits that increase your risk for heart disease

Exercise not only improves heart and muscular fitness, but also lowers the levels of blood related risk factors such as cholesterol and BP. Also,  exercise has mood lifting impact as well!

Importance of exercise for healthy individuals:

Even if you do not have any health risks or lifestyle diseases, exercise helps by decreasing the risk of developing

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Blood pressure
  • CHD (atherosclerotic heart disease)
  • Some forms of cancer (breast and colon cancer)
  • Osteoporosis:  exercise helps preserve bone mass and
  • Mental health :exercise improves, mood, quality of life and some research shows that it helps in people with depression

But if you already have some health risks such as obesity, diabetes, metabolic syndrome or heart disease, regular exercise will help you control your risks better and often give a survival advantage!

Exercise and blood pressure and high blood cholesterol

The physical conditioning achieved by regular aerobic exercise decreases heart rate and blood pressure at rest and at any given level of exercise

Aerobic exercise training programs can result in modest decreases in blood pressure, particularly in persons with high blood pressure. It also leads to improvement in lipid profile: decrease in total blood cholesterol, serum triglycerides, and bad (LDL) cholesterol and increase in good (HDL) cholesterol. There is also evidence that exercise has favorable effects on insulin resistance, blood sugars levels and blood clotting.

In people with high BP and high blood cholesterol, exercise also reduces  C-reactive Protein, which is a marker of inflammation in the body and of risk of CHD

Even in people with angina or previous heart attack, exercise is one of the few interventions which improves survival , function and quality of life, though it has to be begun under medical supervision and carried out with caution

Exercise and obesity, diabetes and metabolic syndrome

In obese people, a major cause of  health problems including metabolic syndrome and diabetes (or prediabetes) is insulin resistance, a condition in which the body cell are not able to use insulin to keep body sugars and fats in balance. Exercise improves insulin sensitivity and thereby reduces blood sugar and HbA1c levels, BP, cholesterol etc. and may reduce the need/dose of drugs

Exercise and loss of weight/body fat and gain in muscle mass

All the above benefits of aerobic exercise, have been found to be true for resistance exercises as well, in addition resistance exercise can help in:

  1. Building up and maintaining muscle mass
  2. Loss of body fat, especially abdominal fat
  3. Maintaining bone mass

Exercise and cancer

Colon cancer risk and exercise

Many studies have consistently found that adults who increase their physical activity reduce their risk of developing colon cancer (cancer of large intestine) by 30 to 40 percent relative to those who are sedentary, regardless of their BMI or body weight.

It is estimated that 30 to 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per day is needed to protect against colon cancer

Breast cancer risk and exercise

Most studies indicate that physically active women have a lower risk of developing breast cancer than inactive women. However, the amount of risk reduction achieved through physical activity varies widely (between 20 to 80 percent). The benefits appear to be maximum in moderately or vigorously active adolescent girls and in adult women with normal body weight!

Endometrial cancer risk and exercise

About 20 studies have examined the role of physical activity on endometrial cancer risk. The results suggest a 20 percent to 40 percent reduced risk of endometrial cancer  with exercise

Exercise and depression / mental health

Aerobic exercises, including jogging, swimming, cycling, walking, gardening, and dancing, have been proved to reduce anxiety and depression. Exercise improves mental health by reducing anxiety, depression, and negative mood and by improving self-esteem and cognitive function.

This influence is probably mediated by the communication of the HPA (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal )axis with several regions of the brain, including the limbic system, which controls motivation and mood; the amygdala, which generates fear in response to stress; and the hippocampus, which plays an important part in memory formation as well as in mood and motivation.

Exercise and mood

Health benefits from regular exercise that include the following effects on enjoyment of everyday life:

  • Improved sleep
  • Increased interest in sex
  • Stress relief
  • Improvement in mood
  • Increased energy and stamina

Therefore, it is good to start exercising early in your life, so that you keep the diseases at bay and are fit to deal with life in best possible way!

Find out ‘everyday exercise routine recommendation for adults‘ here and get on with it

Also check out:

What health checks do you need before starting exercise?

Aerobic exercise for beginners

Resistance exercise: how to do exercise at home?

CHECK OUT: Our references for exercise recommendations