The Many Benefits of Physical Exercise

With the growing rate of obesity and health problems surrounding us today, it’s hard to ignore the importance of physical exercise. Other than helping us to maintain a healthy weight, it can increase muscle strength and flexibility, promote a positive mood, boost our energy, and have a huge impact on our quality of sleep. These are all common problems we face as a society, yet only a small percentage actually puts forth the effort to enjoy these benefits. If the problem is a lack of motivation, this article should help make it easier to get off your butt and start experiencing the many benefits of exercise immediately.

One of the most popular and obvious benefits of physical exercise is weight control. We are all aware that there are many health risks associated with being overweight. Exercise is a key factor in maintaining a healthy weight. Performing any physical activity requires energy, which causes you to burn calories. The more intense the activity, the more calories your body will burn. If you get all the calories your body needs from the food you eat, your body will not need to resort to burning fat. But if you create a caloric deficiency by taking in fewer calories than you consume, your body will burn excess fat for the energy. Approximately 3500 calories is equal to a pound, so creating a deficiency of 500 calories per day would result in losing one pound per week, four pounds per month, or over fifty pounds in a year. When we think of losing weight, one pound per week sounds painfully slow, but persistence is key.

Another benefit of physical exercise is more strength and flexibility. Being stronger and more flexible not only allows you to do more physical labor, it also results in fewer injuries. Sitting at a desk all day can cause lower back pain, especially if you aren’t flexible. By increasing flexibility, you can decrease the back pain you have after a long day at work or in school. If your job requires you to be on your feet all day, you will also see benefits from regular exercise. Your feet and legs will become stronger, which will keep them from getting as sore. These are just a few ways exercise can help influence your attitude and performance at work and at home.

Regular exercise can greatly impact your mood. It stimulates the activity of certain neurotransmitters that affect how we think and feel, leaving you much happier and more relaxed. These feelings can actually become addictive, resulting in an increased desire to exercise on a regular basis. You will also feel better about yourself and your appearance, which will help you maintain a positive mood and improve your self-esteem.

Another very important benefit of exercise is increased energy. Regular exercise can improve your endurance and increase your oxygen intake, resulting in a more efficient cardiovascular system. This leads to improved blood flow, which helps keep your energy and focus levels up, allowing you to do more than you previously could. Another way exercise helps increase your energy levels throughout the day is by improving your quality of sleep. It makes sense that being more active throughout the day would help your body rest better at night. But there is also another reason that it affects your sleep. Exercising raises your body temperature for up to a few hours. As your body temperature lowers, melatonin production is triggered, which causes you to feel tired. So by exercising at an optimal time, around mid to late afternoon, your body temperature will start to lower, and melatonin production will increase right around the time you should go to sleep. You will fall asleep quickly, and get deeper sleep throughout the night, leading to more energy during the day.

Take Action Now: The 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends getting 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise each week, or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity exercise. You can break it into chunks, just as long as each session lasts at least ten minutes. A good way to start would be taking a brisk walk or jog for ten minutes at a time, three times a day, five days a week. There are obviously many combinations you could choose, just make sure you are getting in the recommended time each week.

Summary: There are several benefits of consistent physical exercise, such as weight control, an increase in strength and flexibility, elevated mood, more energy throughout the day, and better quality sleep at night. You should aim for around 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week to experience the full benefits. 

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