Exercising: Always Necessary

Exercising is good for your health and longevity. Your body is perhaps the only machine that improves with regular use. There simply is no substitute for exercise.

dumbells, yoga ball, tennis shoe

There are a number of diseases considered to be “lifestyle” diseases brought on by poor nutrition, inactivity and other detrimental behaviors (like drinking and smoking).  Some of the diseases for which inactivity is considered a modifiable risk factor:

Researchers at the Manchester Metropolitan University report that while there is a natural loss of muscle in the legs as people age that is due to a loss of nerves (and important nerve signals), they point out that nerves in healthy, well-developed muscles can send out new branches to stop the wasting.

You may be able to lose weight by eating right, without exercise, and you may be able to lose weight while eating poorly and exercising a lot. If you want to lose weight AND be healthy, you’ll exercise and eat well.  If you don’t need to lose weight and want to be healthy, you’ll still exercise and eat well.

As with everything else, you will find that there is disagreement about how much and what kind of exercise is best. Don’t let that stop you from doing something. 

Start with what you can do and try to push yourself just a little more as time goes on. Over exercising and extreme athleticism introduces new health challenges so it’s not necessary to push yourself too hard. In all things, moderation.

The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion claims moderate-intensity activity of 150 to 300 minutes will provide substantial health benefits. Activities would include exercise beyond your usual daily living habits–brisk walking, jumping rope, dancing, lifting weights, yoga, cycling, etc. Protective effects of exercise have been reported with as little as one hour of walking per week, but it is unclear whether there are significant additional benefits beyond 300 minutes a week.

If you have a medical condition and haven’t been exercising, talk to your doctor about what might be a safe starting point for you.

The best time to exercise may be in the late afternoon (4-5 pm) when, according to Rubin Cohen, MD, lung function is 15 to 20% more effective than early in the day.

Some benefits of exercise:

  • Exercise elevates mood and the effect can last all day.
  • Regular exercise can increase your lifespan by many years.
  • It is likely that regular exercise improves cognitive function.  People who are more fit have more white matter in their brains and this is associated with better brain functioning.
  • Regular weight-bearing exercise guards against bone loss and osteoporosis.
  • Reduced risk of heart attacks
  • Speeds recovery after illnesses
  • More effective weight management
  • Better sleep quality
  • Lower blood cholesterol
  • Reduced risk of diabetes
  • Reduced blood pressure
  • Strengthens muscles and joints
  • Reduced risk of falls
  • Lower risks of some cancers

There are numerous studies that support the idea that a sedentary lifestyle shortens our life span.  We were designed for movement, so get moving.

The pharmacological effects of exercise: NCBI Related Article