If you are trying to lose weight, you already know that exercising is important to dropping pounds. But exercise does so much more help you fit into those skinny jeans.
- Mental Health Benefits. Last September, a research study published in The Lancet Psychiatry Journal found that exercising in moderation helped persons with “poor mental health,” such as depression. More recently, a study emphasized that the more active people with the bipolar disease were, the better their moods.
- Emotional Health Benefits. When you exercise, your brain releases euphoric neurotransmitters called endorphins, which act as the body’s natural mood lifters and painkillers. When exercising, your brain also releases a variety of hormones such as dopamine and endocannabinoids, while reducing the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol. All of this together reduces the stress hormones and makes handing stressful situations much easier.
- Physical Benefits. Exercising is one of the best things you can do for your body, and being sedentary is one of the worst. In fact, a recent study found that a sedentary lifestyle is more dangerous for your health than diabetes, smoking, and heart disease.
During exercise, your muscles release hormones when they contract, which can not only help you reduce body fat, but also jump starts additional healthy processes. This includes building muscle, boosting your immune system, and protecting the neurons in your brain.
Here are some of the specific ways that exercise benefits your health:
- Lowers the risk of serious health risks, including stroke, cancer, cardiovascular disease.
- Slows bone density loss as you get older.
- Boosts energy and fights fatigue.
- Promotes better sleep.
- Helps regulate blood sugar and can work as quickly and effectively as medicine in patients with type 2 diabetes.
- Improves joint pain.
How Much Exercise Do I Need?
Several studies on a variety of health topics all come back to the same conclusion: the optimal amount of physical activity is 45 minutes of moderate exercise, four or five days a week. Moderate exercise helps grow the quantity of mitochondria – i.e., the powerhouse of a cell that creates the needed energy for the cell to properly function – which in turn increases the volume of blood in your veins and arteries, boosting your overall health.
Moderate intensity activities mean they are enough to increase your heart and breathing rates, but they are not so intense that you can’t carry on a conversation. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), moderate intensity reaches the heart rate zone of 50 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate, which varies by age.
Types of moderate exercise include brisk walking, bicycling under 10 mph in a relatively flat area, slow jogging, ballroom or line dancing, elliptical training, tennis, swimming, or even some types of house or yardwork.
Keep in mind that you don’t have to do 45 minutes of exercise all at once. You can break up your exercise sessions into several sessions of at least 10 minutes and still reap the mental, emotional, and physical rewards of exercise.
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