The Benefits of Regular Exercise for Health
Regular exercise is important
Studies consistently emphasize the benefits of movement and regular exercise to enhance your mood and boost your energy levels. Research suggests that regular exercise significantly reduces the risk of various chronic diseases.
Although it can improve many health markers, exercise alone will not make you healthy if you make other unhealthy choices. Overexercising might even have unwanted health effects. The key is to find a balance and to see exercise as a tool, alongside other lifestyle factors, to improve the quality of your life and health.
Combining a whole foods diet with the right amount of exercise can make a big difference to your health. Here are some of the benefits that you can expect to see from participating in regular exercise:
- Improved well-being and energy
Regular exercise increases well-being and energy.
- Better sleep
Exercise at any time of day helps most people to sleep better. If you have trouble sleeping after exercising, try to exercise earlier in the evening. But ultimately, choose a time of day when you are most likely to exercise.
- Improved productivity
Studies show that people who exercise get more done than their sedentary peers. Go to the gym at lunchtime, and see your productivity soar for the rest of the day.
- Improved mood
Multiple studies indicate that physical activity improves mood and reduces symptoms of depression and anxiety (1)
- Improved insulin sensitivity
Exercise makes your cells and muscles more sensitive to insulin. This means that you need less insulin, which can help to maintain healthy abdominal fat levels.
- Reduced stress
Moderate exercise reduces the stress hormone cortisol, helping you to manage physical and mental stress. It also increases norepinephrine. Norepinephrine moderates the brain’s stress response.
- Improved brain health
Exercise improves memory, learning, and concentration. It has anti-depressant and anti-anxiety effects. It creates brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which promotes the growth of brain cells. Exercise helps to improve mood, boost energy, and reduce stress in your body and mind.
- Reduced risk for chronic disease
Exercise reduces chronic disease risk in multiple ways. It protects your heart, lowering your risk of heart attack (2) and stroke. It reduces inflammation (3), and inflammation contributes to almost every disease of aging. And it balances hormones, therefore reducing the risk of breast and other common cancers.
- Enhanced detoxification
Exercise stimulates the colon and improves circulation. Sweating helps to release toxins through the skin and lymphatic system. If you take a sauna at the end, this helps even more.
- Slowed aging process
Exercise is a crucial part of anti-aging. A lifetime of exercise helps older individuals to maintain the cholesterol levels, muscle mass, and immunity of a much younger person (4).
- Improved sexual function
Increased circulation and energy are two of the many reasons that exercise can improve your sex life (5).
Where to begin
Creating an exercise habit often takes time and patience. A supportive group can make the transition easier. Those who haven’t exercised for a long time could start with a 30-minute (or whatever is manageable) brisk walk daily and work up to a longer walk over time. You could also try skipping the elevator and climbing the stairs, performing jumping jacks in the living room, jogging on the spot, cycling to work, or using a beginner’s exercise video.
Our four favourite tips to get over exercise avoidance:
1. Plan. If you are very busy, pack a gym bag and leave it ready for whenever you can fit it in. Leave one gym bag at the office and one at home.
2. Choose a time of day when you are most likely to exercise. Exercise at any time of day is better for sleep than none, but if exercising close to bed makes it hard to sleep, adjust your training time.
3. Try different activities to find out what you like. Like hard training and circuits? Try military training. Like dancing? Join a spin or dance class or turn up the music and get dancing at home. Need the social aspect? Join a walking group, hike with a friend, or run or walk along the beach. Getting into great shape does not need to mean spending hours at the gym if you don’t want to.
4. Get some support. A health and exercise coach is ideal for this.
What do you do to get fit and stay motivated? Share your tips below or on our Facebook page.
Can we help?
We can provide personalized dietary and lifestyle advice for improving your gut health. Contact us for advice and support. Nordic Wellth is a holistic, evidence-based nutrition and lifestyle medicine platform run by Registered Nutritionists and Medical doctors passionate about helping people to meet their health and lifestyle goals. We offer online consultations and group programmes with professionally-trained nutritionists and wellness coaches.