Did you ever REALLY stop to think why exercise is important? And why we need it so badly?
If you want to be able to do what you could do while you were younger like run after the ball and pick it up and turn and throw it back without getting hurt takes routine exercise. To lower your body to get things from the lower cabinet, off the ground, from the higher cabinet, bring the trash out, garden, rake the leaves or other yard tasks takes regular exercise to continue to do these life activities and function well, without getting hurt.
As people enter their forties and fifties, muscle mass starts to decline because of aging and, in some cases, decreased activity levels. Muscular atrophy can also occur because of health conditions such as joint pain. As we age, it’s important to increase or maintain muscle mass through strength training, not only because it helps burn calories, but also because muscle mass is essential for strength and balance. Exercise improves your skeletal muscle as it pertains to insulin sensitivity (insulin works better at your muscle – bringing your insulin down.)
Research is finding that as we age, exercise may be able to help keep our brains healthy. Two studies presented at the recent Alzheimer’s Association International Conference on Alzheimer’s disease showed that older people who exercised more had significantly less cognitive impairment than those who did not spend time working out. Working out is so good for your brain because it increases the blood being pumped to the brain and encourages higher levels of healthy chemicals called brain-derived nerve growth factors.
If you want to lose weight and keep it off, you know that exercise should be an essential part of your routine. But more and more research is showing that working out can boost other aspects of your health as well. In fact, a new study in the journal Circulation found that exercise, even without weight loss, may lower death risk. What’s more, a regular fitness routine has been shown to do everything from cut cancer and stroke risk to build stronger muscles and bones to encourage better brain health and digestion. Exercise makes the TCA cycle run faster, and detoxifies fructose, improving hepatic insulin sensitivity – which simply means exercise burns it off before it turns to fat.
“Exercise of various types can help prevent osteoporosis, thinning of bones, fracture risk, and falls that are associated with fractures of the hip, spine, and wrist,” says Larry McCleary, MD, retired acting chief of neurosurgery at Denver Children’s Hospital, and author of Feed Your Brain, Lose Your Belly. “Types of exercise that help include aerobic exercise, resistance training, and even exercises that increase balance and agility.” Tai chi may also be beneficial when it comes to improving balance and muscle strength.
Although constipation can have a variety of causes, a lack of exercise can be a major contributing factor. “Exercise can help,” McCleary says. “It also enhances many factors that are indirectly beneficial, such as increased hydration and better dietary intake.”
Exercise can have a number of emotional benefits. Stress can be caused by elevated levels of the hormones cortisol, adrenaline, and norepinephrine. Exercise lowers these hormones, and increases serotonin, otherwise known as the happy hormone, which helps reduce stress. Working out can help keep depression and anxiety at bay. Plus, coping with mood disorders that are often associated with stress can be a little bit easier when you are in good physical shape. Exercise is your indoginous stress reducer. Stress goes down and appetite goes down.
Reduce Cancer Risk
“Inactivity is associated with increased risk for a number of cancers, including colon and breast cancer,” McCleary says. “Exercise has been linked with a decreased risk of developing cancer, death from cancer, and recurrence of certain cancers.” The suggested mechanisms at play include exercise’s beneficial effects on the immune and surveillance systems that detect and kill cancer cells, improved cardio-respiratory status, improved hormonal profiles, weight maintenance, and other beneficial metabolic effects, he says.
Given that two of the greatest risk factors for strokes are high blood pressure and heart disease, exercise — with its benefits of a stronger heart and better circulation — is crucial. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity at least five days a week for optimum health, though you should always check with your physician if you have any health concerns before beginning an exercise program.
Better Skin Health
Another benefit of the increase in blood flow exercise provides is better skin — oxygen and nutrients are carried to cells throughout the body and waste products are moved out. “It’s like cleansing the skin from the inside,” Berman says. Skin inflammation can occur when you’re under stress, so relieving stress through exercise might help clear any skin blemishes as well. “This is easily seen when one compares the glowing skin of a conditioned athlete versus the skin of a stressed out, depressed person,” McCleary says.