Benefits of Exercise

So why should you exercise? Is it simply to have washboard abs or to impress the ladies? While these are two viable and common reasons to enter into a workout program, the benefits of exercise extend much further than aesthetic improvement.

There have been various studies performed showing improvements in levels of anxiety and depression due to increased physical activity. Through an individual’s increased self body image and feeling of accomplishment, it has been shown that their overall outlook on life improves as well. Also, following an acute training session, a person’s body releases the neurotransmitter beta-endorphin in greater quantity, which causes a feeling of euphoria (also known as ‘runner’s high’). Another neurotransmitter that is increased in concentration due to exercise is serotonin, which is primarily responsible for maintaining a balanced mood. These physiological adaptations are thought to be the main reason for the improvement of depression symptoms in individuals who engage in exercise programs.

Health-related benefits are plentiful and include improved cardiovascular endurance/health, body composition, muscular strength, muscular endurance, and flexibility. There has been sufficient evidence to suggest that there is a direct relationship linking increased physical activity levels to lower incidence of cardiovascular disease (CVD), hypertension, stroke, osteoporosis, type 2 diabetes, obesity, colon cancer, breast cancer, anxiety, and depression. Chronic exercise leads decreased resting and exercise heart rate and blood pressure. Also, exercise leads to increased HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol), decreased LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol), reduced total body and intra-abdominal fat (CVD risk factor), and reduced insulin needs (diabetes). Most importantly, there has been a clearly documented relation between physical activity level and mortality rate. This means that there has been a direct link between length of life and exercise… Do you feel like this is enough reason to start your exercise program today?

References:

1. Ehrman JK. ACSM’s Resource Manual for Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription. 6th ed. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2010.
2. Cotman CW, Engesser-Cesar C. Exercise Enhances and Protects Brain Function. Exercise and Sport Sciences Review. 30(2): 75-79, 2002.

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