The health benefits of exercise are hard to ignore as everyone can benefit from regular exercise. Regardless of our age, sex, or physical ability, check out these five ways of how exercise can benefit us beyond maintaining our weight and building of muscle mass.
1. Healthier Heart
Heart disease is still the number one killer in North America. Hypertension is one of the leading causes of heart disease and can be controlled through exercise and improved eating habits. Our heart is a muscle and can be improved in a similar way to how we improve our other muscles. Exercise helps get your heart stronger by improving its ability to pump more blood through the arteries which in turn helps to reduce blood pressure.
When we perform cardiovascular exercise, blood flow is directed towards the working muscles. This increased blood flow and blood volume allow the heart to adapt and enlarge over time as we exercise more frequently. As it enlarges (the left ventricle), it can hold more blood and eject more blood per beat. Why is this important? With consistent cardiovascular training, our resting heart rate drops as more blood is able to be delivered with each beat, therefore fewer beats are required. This reduces the strain on the heart and is why we recommend cardiovascular training for heart health.
2. Stronger Bones
Like muscle, bone is a living tissue that responds to exercise by becoming stronger. The key to maintaining our bone health is through exercise, in particular, exercise that forces you to work against gravity. One form of exercise to keep our bone strength, is resistance training. Resistance training combined with weight-bearing aerobic physical activity, helps to prevent bone loss as we age. Other types of weight-bearing exercises are walking, hiking, jogging, climbing stairs, tennis, and dancing.
3. Boosts Energy
It sounds so funny that in order for people to get more energy, they need to find energy to workout. As you continue to exercise on a regular basis whether it be 3, 4, 5+ times a week, your aerobic capacity will increase, your neuromuscular systems work better, your hormones can be more easily controlled naturally and your muscular endurance will skyrocket. What was once difficult to do on a daily basis like walk up a flight of stairs, becomes easy. Your feeling of fatigue decreases. Exercising doesn’t make you tired. In fact, it actually increases energy in your body.
4. Better Quality of Sleep
There is no substitute for sleep. If you are struggling to fall or stay asleep, regular exercise will help you fall asleep faster as well as deepen your sleep. Although sleep experts recommend that you don’t exercise right before going to bed, exercising any other time of the time can benefit a good night sleep as it helps with your body’s circadian rhythm. When your body becomes tired from a regular exercise routine, you will sleep more deeply and soundly.
5. Happier You
Sometimes its just so hard to get ourselves to the gym, but that exercise high you feel once the workout is over, is caused by our brains releasing endorphins which improves our mood. These ‘natural painkillers’ I like to call them, give you the boost your body needs to feel happier. This mood can last for hours or even days. If you’re not a fan of meditation, regular exercise can help you de-stress, even if it’s simply going for a hike or being outdoors in nature to relax the mind. As you start to feel healthier and get stronger, you start to gain a more positive and confident body image as well.
Eat Well – Move Well – Live Well