Exercise is medicine and it may be the closest thing to being the fountain of youth. Not only does regular activity strengthen your muscles and improve heart and lung function, it can also reduce your risk of illness and disease, stimulate the growth of new brain cells, and add years to your life. There’s no pill or elixir that can do all that!
Studies show that just 30 minutes of physical activity on most days is all that’s required to reap big benefits. The range of health bonuses attributed to exercise has been studied extensively. Now, that doesn’t mean it’s okay to sit for the other 15 or so hours you’re awake – movement and consistent exercise reaps big benefits.
Most of us know that exercise is good for us, but making the time is often a challenge with busy schedules. Often, we put it off due to “no time.”
I know for me, it was easy to make excuses as to why I didn’t have the time. Looking back, it’s obvious I wasn’t ready to make it important enough. The bottom line, exercise was not a big enough priority. Once I decided to make it a priority, everything fell into place. I started losing unwanted fat and trimming down, building some lean muscle (which helps you burn more fat) and I felt better and looked better. This gave me more motivation to keep going.
Will one workout make a difference? Certainly not. Will four workouts make a difference? Not really. Would 208 workouts year make a difference? Most definitely! If you were to exercise just four times a week for a year, that would be 208 workouts! Wow! Do you think you would look and feel any differently at that point? Of course!
Most of us tend to not look at the big picture or look into the future to see how our daily decisions shape where we will be 6 – 12 months from now, much less 10, 20 or 30 years from now. It’s too easy to get discouraged. We want results and we want them NOW! Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. You just have to decide to start, then make a plan and stick to it. You WILL see results IF you don’t give up.
So, the first step is DECIDING that exercise is a priority and working other things in your schedule around it. If it’s not a big enough priority, the “excuses” can always creep in.
There are lots of reasons why exercise is important if not critical for our health.
Research suggests the following benefits from exercise:
- Keeps you young – Workouts such as brisk walking or cycling boost the amount of oxygen consumed during exercise. Improving your aerobic capacity by just 15 to 25 percent would be like shaving 10 to 20 years off your age. Aerobic exercise may also stimulate the growth of new brain cells in older adults. Working out can keep you flexible, limber and strong.
- Reduce infections – Moderate workouts temporarily rev-up the immune system by increasing the aggressiveness or capacity of immune cells. That may explain why people who exercise catch fewer colds. Prevent heart attacks – Not only does exercise raise “good” HDL cholesterol and lower blood pressure, but new research shows it reduces arterial inflammation, another risk factor for heart attacks and strokes.
- Ease asthma – New evidence shows that upper-body and breathing exercises can reduce the need to use an inhaler in mild cases of asthma.
- Control blood sugar – Exercise helps maintain a healthy blood-sugar level by increasing the cells’ sensitivity to insulin and by controlling weight. Regular brisk walking for instance, can significantly cut the risk of developing type II diabetes.
- Protect against cancer – Exercise may reduce the risk of some cancer by speeding waste through the gut, lowering the insulin level and regulating hormone levels.
- Combat stress – Regular aerobic exercise lowers levels of stress hormones. For many people, exercise helps relieve depression as effectively as antidepressant medication. I often say, exercise is the most potent and underutilized antidepressant… and it’s FREE! After exercising your outlook is improved.
- Relieve hot flashes – Ladies, increasing fitness by simply walking or practicing yoga enhances mood and reduces some menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes and night sweats.
- Prolong life – Studies lasting many years have consistently shown that being active cuts the risk of premature death by about 50% for both men and women.
Think of physical activity as the medicine you need to take daily. It changes your body, it changes your mind, it changes your attitude, it changes your mood and it GIVES YOU LIFE!