Everybody knows they should exercise regularly for good health and well-being. This article outlines some of the physical benefits of exercise as well as how it can benefit us psychologically. Hints and tips are given to help you get started and make exercise a part of your everyday life.
The physical benefits
Carried out regularly, exercise can reduce blood pressure and help protect against a heart attack. By engaging in muscular strength training you can protect yourself against injury. Aerobic exercise will assist your heart and lungs in working more efficiently. Furthermore, by exercising, bones are kept strong and this can slow the development of osteoporosis. Exercise can also help alleviate headaches. A further benefit of course is that exercise can help maintain a healthy weight.
The psychological benefits
Exercise not only helps reduce stress, but it can also help you deal with stress long-term. Furthermore, people who exercise regularly suffer less from stress and have less stress-related illness than those who do not exercise regularly.
Exercise has been found to not only alleviate depression but if carried out regularly can actually prevent it. In fact the improvement is comparable to other treatments for depression, including drug therapy.
People who exercise regularly have greater self-worth and a more positive perception of self. Also, people who exercise come to perceive their physical selves more positively, even when there was no visible physical change. In other words, exercising makes you happier with what you see in the mirror.
Feeling fed up after a hard day and thinking about skipping exercise? Well bear in mind their exists a strong association between positive mood and exercise. Even more encouragingly, it seems that it only takes 10 minutes (after a warm up) to increase positive mood. If you exercise aerobically (running works particularly well here), afterwards you should be feeling calm and relaxed. Such exercise increases your endorphin levels, which give you a natural high and leaves you feeling great.
It would appear that by exercising you can get more work done. Research has found that employees who worked out at the gym produced a greater work output. Importantly, they needed less effort to achieve this increase.
Exercising regularly can help you sleep. However, make sure you have completed your exercise a few hours before going to bed.
With the mental and physical benefits of exercise, perhaps it is not surprising that you can live longer as a result.
What you need to do
Try exercising with your partner. Research at Indiana University found couples starting an exercise programme together were less likely to have dropped out a year later than couples commencing a programme individually.
To help your motivation in the early days, you could reward yourself each time you exercise. It is also a good idea to keep track of your exercising. That way you will know what exercise you are doing and you can see the progress you make. Writing in a journal can be very helpful.
Make sure that what you choose is fun and enjoyable. There are no rules. You can exercise in the home, outside, or at a gym. Work within your capabilities and build up gradually. You will be less likely to give up.
Make it part of your life
Initially it is not easy starting an exercise regime. Early on you will find yourself making excuses or giving up because you are not seeing the benefits. You need to exercise all the time, week in week out. Not only will you reap the benefits but also you will become acutely aware of when you are not exercising, as it has become part of your daily routine. With time, those days when you skip exercise will be the ones that stand out, not the ones when you do exercise.
Try to exercise at least 3 times a week for at least 30 minutes.
We should all make time to exercise, as we would make time to eat and sleep.
And remember: speak to a doctor if you have not exercised in a long time.