We all know that exercise is good for us, but do you actually know why? If somebody asked you to list the benefits of working out on a regular basis, how many bullet points could you provide? We often associate exercise with weight loss, but being active isn’t just about getting into that healthy BMI range. If you need motivation to get moving, you’ve come to the right place! Here are just some of the wonderful benefits you could enjoy if you can find more time for physical activity.
This is perhaps the most important benefit of regular exercise. There’s a belief out there that you don’t really have to worry too much about your heart when you’re young, but research suggests that heart disease is becoming more prevalent in younger people, and this is largely due to lifestyle factors. Your heart is a muscle, and it needs working out just like the muscles in your arms and legs. When you exercise, your heart muscle becomes stronger, and it can pump blood around the body much more efficiently.
Frequent trips to the gym, the pool or the courts can also help to keep your blood pressure stable. Your blood pressure reading measures the force at which blood travels through your blood vessels. High blood pressure can put you at risk of heart attacks and strokes. If you haven’t had your blood pressure checked in a while, it’s a good idea to see your doctor or have a look at some reviews of monitors for blood pressure online. There are no clear symptoms of high blood pressure, so keeping an eye on your readings can be beneficial. This is particularly important if you have family history of high blood pressure. Working out can also have a positive impact on your cholesterol levels. High cholesterol is another risk factor for heart disease, as it contributes to an increased risk of atherosclerosis. This occurs when fatty deposits collect within the artery walls, restricting blood flow.
Research suggests that people who exercise on a regular basis have a 35% lower risk of suffering heart attacks and strokes and a 50% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Being overweight can increase your risk of heart disease, some forms of cancer and type 2 diabetes. If you are overweight, working out on a regular basis can help you to lose weight safely and sustainably. You’ll need to combine exercise with healthy eating for the best results. Everybody loses weight at a different rate, but you should find that you get results if you stick with a programme. You can ask your doctor for workout and diet tips, or you may find it useful to exercise with a trainer. If you are keen to lose weight, avoid fad diets and don’t cut out entire food groups. There’s an assumption that you need to banish carbohydrates and fats from your diet to be healthy, but your body needs these foods to function properly. Use a food diary to keep track of your calorie intake and try and limit treats. Often, we gain weight because we eat too much of the wrong foods and making simple changes can bring results.
Often, when you read about the benefits of exercise, you learn about improved circulation and getting fitter and stronger, but working out and moving your body more can also help your mind. Have you ever noticed that you feel refreshed and happy after you’ve finished exercising? When your body is on the go, you benefit from higher levels of happy hormones and serotonin, a chemical, which controls your moods. You may feel dreadful when you’re trying to complete the final kilometre or swim that last length, but afterwards, you’ll notice a really positive difference in your mood. Exercise can also help you combat stress and anxiety, and it is often recommended as a self-help technique for mild depression. Contrary to popular belief, you can also have loads of fun when you work out. It isn’t all about killing yourself at the gym. You can work out with friends, learn to dance or even take your dog to yoga in this day and age, so don’t assume that exercise has to be boring!
We tend to think about the muscles when it comes to discussing the perks of being active, but exercise can also help to strengthen the bones. Your bones play a very important role, and if you’re active, you can reduce your risk of injury and lower the chances of suffering from conditions like osteoporosis when you’re older. If you exercise regularly, you’re 63% less likely to suffer a hip fracture.
Simple ways to move more
If you’re not a gym bunny, the thought of suddenly turning into one can be daunting. The truth is that you don’t have to start lifting weights every day or devote every second to spinning or doing squats. Walk to work or take your bike out when you get home, spend time running around the garden with the kids or take the dog for a run every evening. Take a leisurely walk up a hill at the weekend, and don’t forget your trekking poles for support. Simple things make a difference. If you’re aiming to be more active, one great way is to wear an activity tracker, like a steps counter and try and hit a daily target. You could also look into joining local clubs or teams and find out about classes that are available at your local gym or leisure centre. If you’re apprehensive, take some friends along for moral support. If you’re nervous about being around other people, work out at home instead. You can buy DVDs online or simply follow workout videos on your laptop.
Do you need motivation to get moving? If so, hopefully, this guide has got you thinking, and you’re excited to start exercising more. Working out isn’t just about looking good on the beach. There are so many amazing health benefits and being more active could really make a difference to your physical health and your mental wellbeing. Good luck!