We all know how good exercise is for our bodies, but do we know exactly how good it is for us? Exercise helps keep our weight down and keeps us healthy, but “keeps us healthy” is a broad statement. Exactly what does that mean? How does exercise benefit our bodies?
As we get older, the threat of osteoporosis becomes a reality. However, if we participate in exercises that are weight-bearing, such as lifting weights, walking, jogging or dancing, this will help to strengthen our bones. In the Nurse’s Health Study, published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, 41 percent of the women had fewer hip fractures if they walked more than four hours per week.
Being healthy means having a strong immune system and we all strive for that. Being sick is miserable. A great way to boost your immune system is through exercise. When you exercise, you release two different types of immune cells which seek out and destroy pathogens in your bloodstream. Your immune system reverts back to its normal condition in approximately three hours, but the effect of your exercising is cumulative, which means it adds up over time.
If you haven’t had a good night’s sleep in a while or if that late afternoon slump has you barely able to keep your eyes open, exercise can help with that. In a study with over 2,600 men and women between the ages of 18-85, 65 percent experienced improvement in their sleep and also felt less sleepy during the day.
Energy and Mood
Exercise will make you feel more energetic. That sounds like it shouldn’t be true because when you are feeling lethargic, the last thing you want to do is exercise. However, exercising makes your cardiovascular system and other key systems work more efficiently, which gives you more energy. It also stimulates your brain to release endorphins which make you feel happier and more relaxed.
If you struggle with back pain, you know how difficult it can be to do everyday tasks, let alone exercise, but exercise is what you should do, specialized exercise that is. With back pain, you don’t want to start off your exercise plan by running a marathon, of course. Start off with a low impact exercise that your back can handle. The most important thing to remember is that you want to strengthen your core muscles (the abdominal muscles) and gain flexibility. Strong abdominal muscles and good posture are important to reduce back pain.
If you experience migraines, you know that you will do almost anything to avoid getting another one or to reduce the pain. A recent study suggests that exercise could work as well as medication or relaxation therapy at reducing the frequency of migraines and the severity of the headaches.
Exercise can benefit our bodies in so many different ways. By exercise, we don’t mean that you have to run five miles a day. According to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), they define moderate activity as activity such as ballroom or line dancing, gardening, brisk walking, and water aerobics.
Vigorous activity is defined as aerobic dance, biking at speeds faster than ten miles an hour, jumping rope, swimming laps, and jogging. The Dept of HHS recommends that getting 2-1/2 hours of moderate exercise weekly and 1 hour and 15 minutes of vigorous exercise weekly. Vigorous exercise should be done for at least 10 minutes at a time.
Given the many benefits you receive from exercising, hopefully this will motivate you to get moving. Start out small at first and set realistic goals.
The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be used for diagnosis or to guide treatment without the opinion of a health professional. Any reader who is concerned about his or her health should contact a doctor for advice.