Everyone knows that they should exercise. If you are not exercising, then chances are that some type of health care provider has told you at some point to exercise. But chances are they haven’t told you how to exercise, what to do, and what specifically are the benefits of exercising. So why should you invest so much time and effort into exercising? What are the benefits?
A sedentary lifestyle is one of the major causes of heart disease and diabetes. According to WebMD, some of the benefits to exercise are:
- Strengthen your heart and cardiovascular system.
- Improve your circulation and help your body use oxygen better.
- Improve your heart failure symptoms.
- Increase energy levels so you can do more activities without becoming tired or short of breath.
- Increase endurance.
- Lower blood pressure.
- Improve muscle tone and strength.
- Improve balance and joint flexibility.
- Strengthen bones.
- Help reduce body fat and help you reach a healthy weight.
- Help reduce stress, tension, anxiety, and depression.
- Boost self-image and self-esteem.
- Improve sleep.
- Make you feel more relaxed and rested.
- Make you look fit and feel healthy.
Many people get into exercise because they want to look better or lose weight. There are so many other benefits to exercising. Exercise can help increase your lifespan, but even more importantly, it can add quality years to your life. Nobody wants to live a long life if they can’t get out of a chair, can’t turn their neck, can’t walk up stairs, or can’t do the activities they enjoy (golf, gardening, knitting, biking, hiking, travel, etc). But right now you are setting yourself to either live a long and comfortable life or to live a short life with lots of pain and discomfort accompanied by many doctors and pharmaceuticals. Right now you are setting yourself up for one type of life or the other. You need to exercise in order to feel good, keep pain away, maintain your range of motion, and to be able to continue the activities that you love to do. There are a small percentage of people for who exercise is detrimental, but they are few and far between. Chances are that you are not one of those people; fewer than 5% of our population cannot exercise due to exercise exacerbating certain health issues.
I feel that many of the issues that we associated with aging are more due to becoming deconditioned from not exercising, rather than from actually aging. I feel that the main difference with our bodies as we age is that our bodies don’t recover as well from injuries and insults as it used to when we were younger. The stronger and looser a muscle is, the more capable it is to handle daily irritations, and be better able to recover from them.
My best example of how our body’s power of recovery lessens over time is that of a hangover. Alcohol is toxic to our bodies, our bodies have to process it and detoxify it before it passes through our system. When I was younger I could go out all night, and drink quite a bit. The next day I wouldn’t have any hangover, maybe I’d be a little tired from being out all night, but that was it. Now, if I have more than 2 beers I feel it the next day. I may feel tired, lethargic, sick to the stomach, nauseous, and I may even get a headache or a migraine headache depending on how hung over I am. I am 39 now and my body is not processing the toxic alcohol as well as it did when I was younger. Alcohol is a toxin. It causes minor traumas to your body over the course of the night, and you have to recover from that.
This example can pertain to many other issues we suffer from that we associate with aging. If you sit in front of a computer all day, it causes repetitive or cumulative trauma. When you sit at a desk or computer you have to keep your wrists, elbows, arms, shoulders and neck in specific positions, and you have to keep your feet, ankles, knees, legs, hips and low back all in specific positions. If kept there for a long time, like say hours, the muscles that are actively holding your body parts in place will get tighter and tighter over time. Most people are in front of a desk for hours upon hours, day in and day out, weeks to months to years over time. This repetitive trauma happens more and more and eventually builds up over time to cause an injury. It can cause: plantar fascia, ankle issues, knee pain, patella tracking issues, hip pain, hip flexor issues, abdominal pain, low back pain, mid back pain, upper back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, elbow issues, carpal tunnel, to name some of them. This repetitive trauma affects us more as we age because we don’t recover from the minor traumas the way we did when we were younger. The longer we have an irritation or problem, the harder it is to get rid of it. We just don’t recover from the small micro traumas like we did when we were 20.
If you can exercise, stretch, eat right and take care of yourself, you can get rid of, and even prevent, issues like these form coming up. The looser and stronger a muscle is, the less likely it is to get injured.
There are many benefits to being active and getting into shape. It is hard work, and it is tough to get into a new routine. But if you can, the rewards are immense. If you can exercise consistently, you will reap the benefits for the rest of your life. Those around you will benefit as well since you will decrease your chances of becoming dependent as you age. The exercise program that I will be releasing soon here on pain-freelifestyle.com is an excellent way to ease your way into exercising. It will make sure that you do all the right exercises, and will prevent you from hurting yourself as you get into shape. Just make sure to check with your health care practitioner before starting on a new routine.