Exercise Is Important: Why It’s Good to SweatNovember 12, 2015
Many of us have heard over and over, likely more times than we can count, that exercise is important and that we should be doing more of it. So much emphasis is put on the fact that exercise has health benefits, but we rarely go into detail about those advantages. We know exercise is important but we often don’t look at the specifics of the impact and changes that exercise has on the body.
Exercise and your physical health
- Exercise decreases the risk of diabetes, heart disease, specific types of cancer and osteoporosis.
- Regular physical activity helps lower blood glucose and increase insulin sensitivity, both of which can be risk factors for diabetes.
- Exercise reduces triglyceride levels, which when uncontrolled, can lead to heart disease.
- Activity can also improve heart rate and cardiac output, improving the overall health of the heart and decreasing blood pressure.
- Risk of breast cancer and colon cancer are both decreased in individuals with a physically active lifestyle.
- Strength training exercise, in particular, improves bone density and reduces the risk for fractures and osteoporosis.
- Physical activity increases good cholesterol (HDL). HDL, or high density lipoprotein, actually removes bad cholesterol and decreases the risk of heart disease. Exercise is one of the few ways to increase HDL levels in the body.
- Exercise helps with weight maintenance. This one seems more obvious, but understanding the “how” is tricky. The more active an individual is, the more energy or calories the body requires. Requiring more energy can lead to use of fat stores and the shrinking of fat cells. Growth of muscle mass, through exercise, can also increase overall metabolism, thus improving efficiency of the body.
Exercise and your mental health
- Exercise has been shown to reduce anxiety, depression and improve mood.
- Studies have shown that the increase in blood circulation to the brain during exercise can impact the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, which communicates with the brain and influences mood and motivation. This trigger from exercise leads to increased energy and well-being.
All of these benefits sound fantastic and should be adequate motivation to exercise. However, exercise can be quite daunting if you aren’t already active. Recommendations for exercise typically encourage aerobic exercise at a moderate intensity for about 30 minutes most, if not all, days of the week. Strength training exercises should be included at least 2 days per week.
Truth be told, any exercise is good exercise! If you are just getting started, get active where you can and how your body is able. Even 10 minutes, here or there throughout the day and week, will get you in a routine that can eventually be built on. Any amount of exercise above what you are currently doing will provide benefits.
Even more benefits to bariatric patients
Specific to the bariatric population, we heavily encourage exercise for all of the reasons listed above, but there are additional benefits distinct to surgical weight loss. Exercise, in addition to the lower calorie intake post surgery, will expedite weight loss. Incorporation of exercise into your routine will also build lean body muscle mass. Muscles hold skin tighter, which can aid in decreasing loose skin that you may experience during weight loss. Sustaining muscle mass also helps the body pull from excess fat storage for energy rather than breaking down muscle. Research even shows that physical activity when overweight or obese can control the health risks of obesity, increasing the chances of resolving or improving co-morbid conditions and health concerns following weight loss surgery.
Overall, exercise plays a critical role in our health and is important for incorporation into the lifestyle of all individuals regardless of weight or age. Find a fun, enjoyable way to increase your exercise in your daily lifestyle and reap the health benefits.
- Kokkinos, P. 2012. Physical Activity, Health Benefits, and Mortality Risk. International Scholarly Research Network ISRN Cardiology.
- Press, V., Freestone, I., George, C.F. 2003. Physical activity: the evidence of benefit i the prevention of coronary heart disease. Quarterly Journal of Medicine. 96; 245-251.
- Sharma, A., Madaan, V., Petty, F. 2006. Exercise for Mental Health. Primary Care Companion Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. 8(2); 106-107.
Photo credit: Jeffrey cc
ABOUT THE AUTHORKatherine (Katie) Horner, MS, RD, LD, NASM-CPT, CES is a Surgical Weight Loss Dietitian in Greenville, SC. She has her Masters in Exercise Science and is a NASM Certified Personal Trainer and Corrective Exercise Specialist. Katie loves working with clients to create healthy lifestyle change and help them achieve their nutrition and exercise goals. Katie blogs over at Pickles2Pushups.com, where she shares workouts, recipes and healthy lifestyle tips to motivate and encourage you on your healthy journey.