Do You Know The Real Benefits To Exercise?

Another essential component of having a healthy body is exercise, which is just another word for movement.

But why bother? What are the actual benefits to exercise?

Most of us have lives that are overly busy, so the idea of fitting in what seems like a pointless activity feels like an unreasonable demand to make of ourselves.

But is it?

Obviously, in the past, when we lived in rural settings, exercise was just part of what we did in the pursuit of earning a living and putting food on the table. Hunters exercised when they chased prey, gatherers exercised when they foraged for edible plants, and farmers exercised when they planted and harvested food. In fact, most kinds of physically based occupations utilized bone and muscle throughout the day. So it wasn't something we had to think about – we just did it as part of our daily activities.

Today, many of us sit at a desk, or stand at a lectern, as part of our jobs. Exercise becomes a chore we have to fit in. And who needs the additional stress? People may talk about the benefits to exercise but most of us would rather spend our free time catching a movie or going out to dinner.

But if we really understand why we need to exercise, we can start looking at how to incorporate it into our lives, in ways that might actually be enjoyable. So let's look at the facts.

The Real Benefits To Exercise

  1. Weight bearing exercise tears down muscle so it can rebuild and become stronger. Weight lifting also builds bone, thereby offering a form of protection against osteoporosis.

  2. Another of the benefits to exercise is that our internal organs function more efficiently. Brisk movement, also known as aerobic exercise, gets the heart pumping, which aids circulation and keeps the body functioning at a healthy level.

  3. The increased breathing rate that occurs with most exercise enhances the performance of your cells. They take in nutrients and expel toxins at a faster rate, improving their performance and subsequently your health.

  4. Both brisk movement and weight lifting burn off calories, reducing weight and restoring it to its optimum level.

  5. Stretching keeps your muscles flexible so you lower the risk of pulling or tearing them while performing an unusual movement.

  6. The increased oxygen to your brain helps you stay focused and think more clearly, as well as helping reverse emotional conditions like anxiety and depression. The endorphins your body releases during exercises also help balance your emotional state.
Once you realize the benefits to exercise, how do you fit it into your life?

Find an enjoyable way to get moving.

If you currently live a sedentary lifestyle and you don't feel drawn to physical activity, your challenge is to find a way of incorporating movement into your life that's not stressful, not a chore, but actually fun. Here are some suggestions:
  • Exercise In A Group

    If you can't get a group of friends together who'll agree to do some form of physical activity – and stick to it – the easiest way to get started is to join a walking club. Because walking isn't a high-stress exercise, you'll be able to chat as you walk and hopefully make friends within the group.

    Your local council or newspaper should have information on groups in your area.

  • Hire A Personal Trainer

    For most of us, exercising alone simply doesn't work. We say we're going to work out at home, we buy expensive exercise equipment – a rebounder, weights, an exercise bike, all sorts of machines that are on the market – but the problem here is us: how do we motivate ourselves to do this every day? This is why personal trainers are so popular. When you hire a trainer, you have an impartial expert in your life to both assist you and make sure you do what you've committed to do.

    You may not find the best trainer right away so shop around for someone you feel comfortable with, someone who listens to your concerns and works with you to set a challenging yet practical pace. Don’t allow yourself to be bullied into overexerting yourself, which can destroy your motivation and provide an excuse to quit.

  • Take Up A Sport

    If you've played a sport in the past and you enjoyed it, this may be the way to go. One of the positives about playing a sport is that it usually involves a commitment to other people, whether it's to be at the game on time or to meet at the time the tennis court is booked. So if you have some natural athletic ability, or if you want to take lessons and learn a new skill, this is an excellent way to exercise.

  • Learn To Dance

    Dancing is probably one of the most enjoyable ways to exercise. It's low stress because it's not a competitive activity. Again, the social component places it in the fun category.

    You can learn salsa, rock and roll, line dancing, or even ballet or tap if you're so inclined. Dancing is one of the best ways for staying active and enjoying the process.

  • Take Up An Active Hobby

    Any hobby that includes movement, from gardening to tai chi, is an easy way to exercise. Again, make sure it's something you really enjoy, so you look forward to it instead of dreading it.

A word of warning...
  1. Don't Exercise If Your Body Is Out Of Alignment
    A friend of ours who runs a busy chiropractic center has this word of warning for people who haven't been active in a while: your body needs to be correctly aligned before you start stressing it with exercise.

    He claims that if you have a problem with your body and you start exercising without addressing the problem, you can actually make it worse. So it's worth a visit to your local chiropractor before you get started with any new physical activity.

  2. Check With Your Doctor Before Stating On An Exercise Program
    How many stories have you read about people having a heart attack during a morning walk or run (and often dying as a result)? This is usually because they had an underlying heart condition that was either undetected or ignored. The extra strain exercise places on the heart and cardiovascular system can precipitate a coronary event.

    The best way to prevent this is to check the state of your heart with your doctor. If you do have a problem in this area, then begin treatment immediately, and look for additional ways to improve your health, specifically with diet, supplements, breathing exercises and relaxation techniques. When your doctor gives you the green light, then you can begin some light exercise.

The ball's now in your court, so to speak.

Get creative and challenge yourself to come up with an enjoyable way to get active. Then find out how to get started.

> > Health Essentials #6: Relaxation

It's important that you consult with a qualified health professional before embarking on any new dietary or exercise regimen.

Gathering information online is fine for research purposes, but you need a real live professional to monitor your progress if you attempt to make drastic changes to your lifestyle. Unless you're a health professional yourself, you aren't equipped to objectively observe your body's responses to a new diet or exercise program. So whatever your chosen course of action, please be sure you enlist the support of a qualified professional.

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