Exercise is not a 4 letter word. While it may not be fun, it has a lot of health benefits.
#1 Exercise Reduces Cardiovascular Disease
Cardiovascular disease is the #1 cause of death in both men and women. People who exercise regularly reduce their risk of heart attack and stroke by more than 50%. According to the American Heart Association exercise can be defined as moderate or vigorous.
Moderate exercise, such as walking, is 150 minutes per week or 30 minutes 5 times per week. Vigorous exercise such as running, crossfit, swimming, etc. should be done 3 times per week for 30 minutes. If you are doing vigorous exercise your pulse rate should be greater than 100 beats per minute. You will be sweating and your face will be flushed.
If you do not have time to spend a continuous 30 minutes doing an activity then it is acceptable to divide the sessions in half and spend 10-15 minutes twice a day. It’s good to just get moving!
A recent study compared a group of normal weight individuals who did not exercise with another group of people 50 pounds overweight who exercised 3 times per week. The overweight group had fewer heart attacks and strokes than the sedentary normal weight group.
For many people a pedometer which can be attached to your waist, wrist, or ankle can encourage increased fitness. There are multiple products which count your steps – Fitbit, Jawbone and many mobile phones now have an activity app. The goal is to walk 10,000 steps a day.
People who exercise regularly decrease their risk of premature death. People who exercise regularly regardless of weight live longer and are healthier than people who do not exercise.
So let’s get going!!
#2 Exercise Reduces Alzheimer’s Disease
People who exercise regularly can improve cognitive function and decrease Alzheimer’s disease. Physical activity increases oxygen consumption and blood flow to all organs including the brain. Exercise also appears to increase the number of blood vessels in the brain and increase the number of connections between brain neurons. This increase in blood flow and vascularity seems to be the reason for preventing dementia. A recent study at the University of Maryland placed a group of elderly patients on a moderate intensity exercise program and found an increase in brain thickness, potentially protecting against Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
Exercise also helps reduce diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, all of which contribute to dementia.
#3 Exercise helps your Bones
Exercise reduces osteoporosis and the risk of bone fracture. Exercise slows bone loss, even if you already have osteoporosis. Weight bearing exercise is most effective for osteoporosis prevention. This includes walking hiking, dancing or stair climbing. While swimming and biking are great forms of exercise, they will not protect your bones. Weight lifting, also known as resistance training, has been shown to increase bone strength.
#4 Exercise May Decrease Cancer
There is good evidence that regular exercise reduces multiple types of cancer including breast cancer.
People who exercise regularly have a 30-40% reduced risk of colon cancer compared to sedentary individuals. The more exercise performed the lower the risk of colon cancer.
Exercise also helps reduce the risk of endometrial and lung cancer.
There are multiple studies documenting the protective role of exercise with regards to breast cancer prevention. Women who exercise regularly reduce their risk of both premenopausal and postmenopausal breast cancer. Sedentary woman who start exercising after menopause are able to reduce their risk of breast cancer. Breast cancer survivors who exercise have lower recurrence rates than their inactive counterparts.
Exercise has all sorts of great benefits. Sounds like we should all do it.
Let’s go sweat, have some fun and improve our health!!