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Everyone benefits from exercise, regardless of age, sex or physical ability. In fact, the CDC recommends adults do 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous activity per week.
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1. It Makes You Feel Good
There’s no disputing that exercise improves your body and helps you lose weight. But what you might not know is that exercise can boost your mood and make you happier.
When you exercise, your brain releases feel-good chemicals called endorphins. These brain chemicals help to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety by decreasing the levels of the hormones adrenaline and cortisol in your body.
In addition, regular exercise increases the production of cells in the hippocampus area of your brain which is responsible for memory and learning. This is important as it can help prevent age-related cognitive decline.
Those same brain chemicals that make you feel good during exercise can also help you concentrate and focus. Studies show that people who exercise regularly have better working memory, and are able to think more quickly, than those who do not exercise.
Regular exercise can also help you sleep better. Getting enough sleep is essential for your mental health and can be hard to do if you’re feeling tired all the time. The trick is to get regular exercise and do it before you go to bed so that you have more energy to fall asleep.
When you start to exercise, it can be difficult to stay motivated. But as you become more experienced and meet goals, your sense of accomplishment will increase. Even if you only do 10 minutes of exercise each day, that can make a difference. This can boost your self-esteem and give you a feeling of accomplishment, which can help to lift your mood and help you feel happier.
2. It Helps You Sleep Better
Exercise is a great way to feel energized throughout the day, but it also helps you sleep better at night. Regular exercise helps improve your circadian rhythm, reduces sleep disorder symptoms, and can relieve the stress of a busy lifestyle. Getting 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise each day, five days a week is plenty to help your sleep. And it doesn’t have to be high-intensity exercise; even walking, gardening and yoga can have a positive effect on your sleep.
In fact, studies show that even low-intensity activities can make a difference in how well you sleep, especially if you suffer from a sleep disorder like insomnia or obstructive sleep apnea. Aerobic activity, in particular, can help you fall asleep faster and increase the duration of your sleep.
But the type of exercise is just as important as how much you do. It’s been found that both endurance and resistance training can improve your sleep, so be sure to incorporate both into your workout routine. It’s also been found that people who do resistance training experience a greater subjective improvement in their sleep quality than those who only do endurance exercise.
The best time to exercise for sleep is in the morning or in the early afternoon. However, if you must do a workout closer to bedtime, try to end it at least three hours before you plan on turning in for the night. This will give your body time to cool down and will avoid a rise in heart rate or body temperature, which can interfere with falling asleep.
While it may take a few months to notice the full effects of your exercise routine, the benefits of getting an adequate amount of restorative sleep can be long-lasting. So if you’re not currently getting enough sleep, start making some changes to your daily routine today and see how much of a difference it makes!
3. It Makes You Stronger
Exercise makes muscles stronger, which translates to more energy and a healthier body. Exercise also improves your bones, making them less prone to fractures and osteoporosis. It even boosts your immune system, so you can fight off illness better.
People who are regularly active are also more resilient to mental health issues, like depression, anxiety, and stress. Regular exercise helps them cope with these challenges in a healthy way, rather than turning to unhealthy behaviors like alcohol or drugs.
For adults, the benefits of exercise include improved endurance, muscle strength, balance, and flexibility. It can help you sleep better, have more energy, and even reduce your risk of cancer and other chronic diseases.
Kids get lots of aerobic activity through playground games, gym class, dance classes, soccer practice, bike riding, and running around the neighborhood. Kids who are fit also have better school performance and are less likely to be depressed.
Aerobic exercises increase the size of your heart and lung capacity, allowing more oxygen to reach your muscles. It can also help prevent sarcoidosis, heart attacks, and stroke. Regular exercise lowers your cholesterol, lowers blood pressure, and reduces your risk for diabetes, colon cancer, and breast cancer.
Strength training develops muscle strength, especially in your arms, legs, and back. It’s important to choose a weight or resistance that is challenging but still allows you to do 12-15 repetitions. Each repetition is one set. When you can do 12-15 reps easily, it’s time to increase the weight or resistance. Start small and build up to 30 minutes of moderate exercise five times a week. If you don’t have that much time, try breaking it down into two 15-minute or three 10-minute exercise sessions if needed.
4. It Makes You More Flexible
Whether you’re an athlete or just trying to get through your day, flexibility is important. Not only does it make movement more comfortable, but it also decreases your risk for injury. Having flexible muscles and joints can also help you move more quickly through everyday tasks, such as bending down to pick up something off the floor or reaching over your head to open a door.
Most people understand the benefits of aerobic exercise, and many are familiar with the importance of strength training. However, flexibility is often neglected. While some people are naturally more flexible, most lose their flexibility as they age and become less physically active. Regular exercise can improve flexibility, as can a good stretching routine.
Stretching is a type of exercise that involves moving to the end range of a joint’s normal motion and holding that position for 15-30 seconds or more. It’s recommended to do static stretches before and after exercise, but it can also be incorporated into your daily routine—even just walking from one place to another, says Chad Benson, a kinesiologist and education manager at WRKOUT.
You don’t need to spend hours at the gym or sweat buckets, either. A simple 30-minute workout can be enough to reap all the benefits of exercise. And if you’re not quite ready to commit to that much time, try breaking up your exercise sessions into two or three 10-minute exercises. To maximize your results, try to do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise a week. To achieve the most significant health benefits, combine muscle-strengthening activities with aerobic exercise. For example, a combination of 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity and two sets of 10 repetitions of each muscle-strengthening activity would be enough.
5. It Makes You Happier
The euphoric feeling that many people experience after a good workout, known as a “runner’s high,” is caused by endorphins. However, these are just one of many brain chemicals that make you feel happy during exercise. “When you do physical activity, the body produces chemicals like endorphins, dopamine, adrenaline and endocannabinoid,” health psychologist Kelly McGonigal says. “Those are all chemicals associated with feeling happy, confident and capable.”
When you work out, your blood pressure increases, which tells the brain that your body is in a “fight or flight” situation. Your heart rate also increases. But the good news is that exercise also decreases levels of cortisol and adrenaline, which are stress hormones. It reduces anxiety, depression and feelings of loneliness. It also helps you sleep better and boosts self-esteem.
In fact, research shows that regular exercise makes you happier than those who don’t exercise regularly. This happiness may be due to the positive effects of exercise on the brain and body, but it could also be because exercising with friends and family makes it fun.
In addition to helping you feel happier, regular exercise improves your mood and gives you energy for everyday tasks. Just think how much easier it would be to climb the stairs to your office, haul groceries or tend to your garden if you were stronger and more energetic! That’s why it’s important to make exercise a part of your routine. Fortunately, it’s not too late to start getting some exercise! Adding just 10 minutes a day of any type of exercise will help you reap the benefits. Just make sure you are choosing activities that you enjoy. Then, you’re more likely to stick with it.
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