Why Do We Exercise? Here’s How Physical Activity Impacts You

Photo of two African American women hiking outside and smiling, meant to depict the physical and mental benefits of exercise

We all know that exercise is important for our health and wellbeing. We have the best intentions to fit it into our schedule, but have you ever thought of ALL the reasons WHY you should exercise?

Benefits of Regular Exercise

  • Reduce Your Risk of Heart Disease – The American Heart Association states that exercising 30 minutes/day can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by 30-40% in women. Getting active improves blood circulation while lowering your cholesterol and blood pressure. These factors greatly influence the risk for heart disease.
  • Decrease Stress – Exercise reduces your body’s stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. Most people report an improvement in their mood right after a workout.
  • Lose or Maintain Weight – Regular exercise burns calories to promote weight-loss or weight maintenance when combined with a healthy and reduced-calorie diet.
  • Improve Strength – Resistance-based training at least twice per week improves strength and can make everyday activities easier, such as carrying groceries, doing laundry, or just moving your body.
  • Feel Happy – Exercise produces endorphins to make you feel good. Many describe sensations like a “runner’s high,” but it happens with all physical activity.
  • Reduce Your Risk of Cancer – According to the National Cancer Institute, there is evidence that physical activity reduces the risk of bladder cancer, breast cancer, colon cancer and esophageal cancer, just to name a few.
  • Have Fun – That’s right! When you find the right exercise, it should be something you enjoy.
  • Improve Balance – Some exercises such as yoga can help improve balance, posture and coordination.
  • Decrease Your Risk of Osteoporosis – Strength training over time can help prevent bone loss and reduce your risk for developing osteoporosis, a disease that weakens bones.
  • Improve Your Confidence – Exercising can improve your confidence for several reasons. Completing a workout can bring you a sense of accomplishment and help you feel productive.
  • Decrease Anxiety – Exercise diverts your attention from what you feel anxious about. Moving your body also decreases muscle tension.
  • Improve Brain Power – Aerobic exercises provides your body oxygen with oxygen which can improve cognitive function. You may feel more alert and focused.
  • Get Social – Walk with a friend or join a beach volleyball league. Exercise can be a fun group activity!
  • Improve Your Sleep – According to the Sleep Foundation, exercise helps alleviate sleep-related problems and helps ensure you get an appropriate amount of rest. With adequate sleep, activity levels can fall.
  • Increase Your Energy Levels – Exercise increase oxygen production and produces more mitochondria in cells—the cell’s powerhouse.
  • Reduce Your Risk for Diabetes – Physical activity reduces your insulin sensitivity so less insulin is requires to keep your blood sugar under control.
  • Improve Your Body Image – Taking care of your body helps you feel better about the body you have.
  • Improve Your Digestion – Physical activity increases blood flow to the muscles in your digestive system. This can make digestion easier. Exercise also positively affects the healthy bacteria in your gut.
  • Spend Time with Family – Have some family fun with a walk in the park or play a game of basketball.

Are those reasons convincing enough? These are only a few of the many benefits of exercise. You’ll find many more as you get more active!

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