10 Ways Exercise Can Change Your Life

January 14th, 2009

The Importance of ExerciseI’m sure you know exercise is good for you, but do you know why?

Most people have a vague idea but aren’t entirely sure. It doesn’t take much thought to realize exercise was a major part of our evolution, and as such, it makes sense that it’s an important aspect of our health and well being. Just like most animals, we had to hunt for food, defend ourselves, and flee from danger. The levels of fitness and skill that these activities required are comparable to those of a well trained modern day athlete.

The Importance of a Balanced Program

Before I discuss the benefits of exercise, I want to emphasize a few factors that are of significant importance to any exercise program.

To enjoy all the benefits that exercise can offer, it’s essential to follow a well balanced program that addresses both flexibility and strength. It’s just as important to have unrestricted range of motion through each joint as it is to have a strong and durable body. Deficiencies in either aspect can leave you susceptible to injury.

It’s also essential to stay within your capacity by moderating the frequency, duration, and intensity of your workouts. We live in an age of “no pain, no gain” and think it’s commendable to fight through fatigue. All this does is ruin your health. Frequently pushing yourself past the point of fatigue may give you a fit body that looks great, but underneath, it will also be a tired body that is not performing it’s basic functions well.

Without further ado, here are ten ways in which exercise can change your life.

1. Decreased Risk of Heart Problems

Heart disease is a leading cause of death and a significant concern for many people. Any exercise that elevates your heart rate will strengthen your heart, increase it’s capacity, and make your circulatory system more effective at pumping blood throughout your body. This will help make your arteries more pliable and less susceptible to atherosclerosis, improve your blood pressure, and in turn, lower your risk of heart disease.

2. Weight Loss

The more you exercise and the more muscle you develop, the faster your metabolism becomes and the more food you need to maintain your muscle tissue. Assuming you are eating quality foods, it will be more difficult to overeat and produce body fat. This effect is magnified by the fact that exercising also burns calories.

However, it’s important to realize that you shouldn’t exercise excessively to burn calories and lose weight. Doing so is putting wear and tear on your body in exchange for weight loss and is simply trading one problem for another. While exercise will help, proper diet alone is more than sufficient to reach your ideal body weight. The Metabolic Typing diet is an excellent way to eat that will help you easily lose weight.

3. Reduced Pain

Most people sit all day and rarely utilize their entire range of motion. Because of this, some muscles are overused while others are underused, and the result is tightness, weakness, and imbalance that leads to muscle and joint pain. A well designed exercise program will help you increase your flexibility, mobility, and strength while keeping these aspects in balance across each joint. By following such a program, your joints will work more smoothly, your muscles will be less likely to become tight or overused, and as a result, you will have less muscle and joint pain overall.

4. Decreased Risk of Injury

Weightlifting and other forms of resistance based exercise will put a demand on bones, muscles, and connective tissue that will force them to become more durable. Stronger bones will be less likely to break or fracture, and stronger muscles and connective tissue will be less likely to tear or sprain. And by including stretching and mobility exercises in your exercise program, your range of motion will improve and further decrease the risk of muscle tears, sprains, and joint stress.

5. Improved Mood

It is well known that exercise can be used very successfully to fight depression. This is primarily a result of exercise increasing the production of serotonin which has a direct influence on your mood. Exercise also triggers the release of endorphins which are known to produce a feeling of exhilaration while also relieving pain, anxiety, and stress. This is what’s commonly referred to as a “runner’s high.” Because of these effects, you’re likely to find that good moods come more easily and frequently while exercising regularly.

6. Improved Immunity

With all the stresses of modern life, many of us have decreased immunity and get sick frequently. By stimulating circulation within the lymphatic system and improving the circulation of oxygen throughout the body, exercise strengthens the immune system and increases resistance to infection. Most people who follow an exercise routine for any length of time notice that they get sick less often during that period. However, there is a catch. Exercising too much will actually weaken your immune system and increase your chances of getting sick.

7. Improved Mental Ability

Poor memory and poor concentration have become common frustrations of modern life. Although it may seem unusual for exercise to have an impact on your mental abilities, it does! Exercise improves oxygen flow to the brain, promotes development of the nervous system, and causes an increase in various chemicals associated with mental function. With these additional resources being provided to your brain on a regular basis through consistent exercise, your mental clarity is likely to improve, you’ll remember things more easily, you’ll be able to concentrate better, and you may even become more creative.

8. Improved Confidence

While many people exercise to improve their appearance, there is a deeper reaching benefit that often goes unrealized. Sticking with an exercise program long term requires commitment and determination. The sense of accomplishment you gain from your hard work and your improved appearance will undoubtedly increase your pride and self confidence. And with this increase in confidence, you’ll be likely to find the ambition and courage to take on challenges that you wouldn’t have considered previously.

9. Improved Physical Function

All you have to do is look around to see how poorly most of us are functioning physically. Simple tasks such as walking, bending over, and squatting are basic functions that many of us can’t do without pain or can’t do at all. The strength and range of motion that exercise develops will make these basic daily functions easier to perform. It will help you get in and out of cars, walk up and down stairs, lift heavy objects overhead, and perform other basic functions with ease and without pain.

10. Increased Capacity

It’s common today for people to take weeks instead of days to recover from simple illnesses and mild injuries or to become easily exhausted by a small amount of activity. Because exercise improves circulation and metabolism, it also improves the rate at which nutrients and oxygen are delivered to cells. As a result, each cell is able to function more effectively and produce energy more consistently. Because of this improved function, your ability to recover from injury and illness will be improved, and your capacity to handle more demanding physical and mental activities will be increased.

What Are You Waiting For?

If you’re not already exercising on a regular basis and enjoying all of these benefits, then now’s a better time than any to get started. Don’t be overwhelmed or intimidated by all the conflicting advice that often circulates. Take that first crucial step and get started! you can always learn more as you go. Even if it’s only a few days per week, commit yourself to making exercise a priority in your life. I’m sure you’ll find the commitment worth while as exercise is something we’re all naturally inclined to benefit from.

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