It is almost impossible to read a newspaper or magazine and not come across an article about the many benefits of physical fitness. For the most part, they are all true. In the US, the country with the highest obesity rate in the world, fitness has moved center stage as millions of desk-bound Americans look to keep their minds and bodies sharp.
And, that is the important thing to realise about physical fitness; the benefits are both physical and emotional. In an unbalanced environment where we tend to spend huge amounts of time in front of a computer or watching television, physical fitness is the great equaliser.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), there are distinct health advantages to a regular fitness discipline. The CDC suggests that if you are new to fitness, you start slowly. Give your muscles, bones, heart and lungs the opportunity to adjust to your new level of activity.
If you already suffer a chronic disease such as arthritis, diabetes, or heart disease, meet with your physician and make sure you understand your limitations. However, a program that includes 60 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week can yield significant health and quality of life benefits.
CDC Identifies These Physical Benefits of Physical Activity
Control Your Weight – Work your way up to 150 minutes a week of moderate-intense aerobic activity and 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity to take control of your weight.
Reduce Risk of Cardiovascular Disease – 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity will lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Reduce the Risk of Type 2 Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome – Between 120 and 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week will reduce the risks of these health risks.
Reduce Risk of Colon and Breast Cancer – Regular exercise, even mild exercise, such as walking, will reduce the risk of these two types of cancers.
Improves Ability to Prevent Falls – A balanced fitness program will strengthen your core and help prevent debilitating falls. Core strength can be developed without intense body building.
CDC Identifies These Psychological Benefits of Physical Fitness
While the health benefits of physical fitness are undisputed, we should not overlook the psychological benefits. With a commitment to regular physical fitness, you will feel better, your brain will perform better and you will look better.
Exercise Reduces Stress – Exercise increases concentrations of norepinephrine, a chemical that can moderate the brains response to stress.
Exercise Boosts Mood – Many physicians recommend exercise for patients who show clinical signs of depression or who just feel low.
Improves Self-Confidence – Regular exercise improves the individual’s self-esteem and their perception of themselves.
Benefits of Being Outdoors – Being outdoors comes with many physical and psychological benefits, not the least of which is ensuring regular intake of vitamin D from the sun. Fresh air is great for the body and the person’s self-esteem.
Prevent Cognitive Decline – Exercise and a healthy diet cannot cure cognitive decline but they have proven to slow the process. When we age, a certain amount of decline is unavoidable but exercise boosts the levels of chemicals that affect the brain and our memory.
Increase Relaxation – A regular exercise routine allows us to relax and rest more effectively.
Boost the Brain’s Productivity – Exercise increases the brain’s performance by increasing the protein level in the brain. Exercise has shown to improve the individual’s capacity to make decisions.
While the CDC lists all these benefits, it also lists the most important health and psychological benefit. Regular exercise will allow you to live longer. That should be all the motivation you need.
Remember to always consult a physician or a medical practitioner prior to making changes to your fitness lifestyle.