Exercise now: Reasons 1 to 5
When noble New Year's fitness resolutions have petered off, many dwell on unachieved exercise goals rather than focusing on the benefits of making exercise a lifelong habit. Perhaps all you need to get back on the fitness bandwagon -- instead of getting run over by it -- are some reminders of why exercise should be a part of your lifestyle.
Strive to make your fitness resolve thrive with these exercise incentives:
1. A positive tension-relieving outlet
Release frustrations on a punching bag or dissolve stress at a relaxing yoga class (check out stress-relieving exercises). Prompting our brains to release endorphins (also know as happy hormones); exercise helps improve your outlook on life. Researchers from the University of Manitoba reviewed 15 studies about the therapeutic effects of exercise in relation to depression. The findings, published in the June 1999 issue of Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, confirmed that the effects of exercise, such as increased oxygen absorption and increased serotonin levels, "boost energy for up to two hours after a workout and serve as an antidote to the tension and fatigue that often characterize depression."
2. A threat to cardiovascular disease
According to The Heart and Stroke Foundation, cardiovascular disease/heart disease is the Number 1 killer of Canadian women. A sedentary lifestyle is simply not what your heart desires. According to an article published in a July 2000 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, "exercise can help reverse or limit the build-up of plaque (fatty deposits) in the arteries and improve the heart's oxygen supply." So make a healthy heart a top priority and rather than head to the couch after work, walk over to the treadmill for some heart-friendly aerobics.
3. An enemy of osteoporosis
Exercise is an important osteoporosis-preventing tactic. According to the Osteoporosis Society of Canada, "1 in 2 women and 1 in 3 men will suffer a fracture due to porous bone after the age of 60." Exercise helps reduce your risk of developing osteoporosis because (when you exercise) the force of muscle pulling against bone stimulates bone remodeling and formation. Weight-bearing exercises, resistance training and flexibility and balance exercises like tai chi and yoga help to increase bone density and reduce risk of injuries. (*Always consult with your doctor before starting any exercise program.)
4. A metabolism enhancement
When you build lean muscle with resistance training, your body is better able to resist excess fat build-up. In order to function, muscle structure needs more energy than fat, thus your metabolic rate (the rate at which your body burns calories) increases. When you exercise, your body burns calories that could otherwise turn into excess body fat. To figure out the calorie-burning benefits of your favourite exercises, try CalorieControl.org's exercise calculator.
5. A performance prod
When you gain strength, you're better able to execute daily activities. Many exercise programs have shifted to "functional training" which trains movement patterns and focuses on balance, co-ordination, agility, etc. These exercise components translate into increased performance as well as a greater range of motion, and give you a great limber feeling. It also improves your athletic potentials and encourages you to try new things.