Why Exercise Is Good for Your Health
Photo by John Arano on Unsplash
Written by: Sabrina Sourjah
Date Updated: 8/17/2021
Reviewed by: Patrick D. Randolph, Ph.D.
Each of us has a different relationship to our bodies. Some of us love how we look, and others do not. But at the end of the day, the sole purpose of our bodies is to house us and enable us to attain our goals.
Maintaining a healthy body is vital for all other activities in our life and moving our bodies can help us do just that. In fact, moving our bodies can be joyful. But if you haven’t tasted this joy yet, you will first need to overcome your initial resistance to exercise.
When you pick an exercise, it’s important to pick one that fits your temperament and one that you can truly enjoy. Because not everyone likes to sweat and pant, some enjoy deep stretches and balancing poses, while others enjoy dancing for exercise.
Whatever gets you moving and out of your head is good for you.
~ Marty Rubin
The Most Important Types of Exercises
The Harvard Medical School refers to four main types of exercises: aerobics, strength training, stretching, and balance exercises. We need all these types of exercise to keep us healthy.
Aerobics speeds up your breathing and heart rate. Walking, swimming, jogging, cycling, and dancing fall into this category.
Strength training helps build muscle mass that we lose as we get older. Squats, push-ups, lunges, and weightlifting are good examples.
Stretching allows us to be more flexible. Exercises designed to stretch calves, quadriceps, neck, shoulder, and hamstrings or yoga practices help you maintain flexibility.
Balance training can help prevent falls as you get older. Typical balance training examples include standing on one foot, balancing yoga poses, and walking on uneven surfaces.
Are You Getting Enough Exercise?
For aerobics exercises, two factors decide if we’re getting enough exercise: intensity and duration. Intensity refers to how much you push yourself during a workout. For example, if you can’t talk during your workout, the intensity may be too much.
When it comes to duration, the Harvard Medical School states that “exercising once a week won’t contribute much to your fitness, two weekly sessions should give you considerable value, but three are most desirable.”
Exercising for Your Body Type
Your body type is also important when deciding on your ideal weekly workout plan. Although you need aerobics, strength training, balancing, and stretching, which types of exercises you need the most and the least depends on your body structure.
Benefits of Exercise
1. Overall Health
Aerobics exercises lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, breast and colon cancer, and type 2 diabetes. Exercise can also help manage your weight and cholesterol levels better. In addition, strength training and stretching helps build muscles and keep them healthy as we grow older.
2. Surgery Outcomes
Some surgeries require patients to engage in physiotherapy exercises recommended by healthcare professionals as part of the recovery process. These exercises help patients heal sooner and get back to their day-to-day activities faster.
3. Mental Health
Exercise is a proven mood booster and helps lower the risk of depression. According to the American Association of Psychology (APA), “exercise in many ways is like exposure treatment” for anxiety patients. Exercise also lowers stress, increases self-esteem, and boosts sleep quality.
Research indicates that “not exercising increases your risk of premature death more than cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and even smoking.” Another study found that people in their 70s, who exercise regularly, have heart, lung, and muscle fitness comparable with healthy individuals in their 30s.
5. Life Satisfaction
In a study of young, middle-aged, and older adults, “participants with high and moderate activity levels had significantly higher life satisfaction and happiness than those with a low activity level across the total population and the three age groups.”
It can’t be stressed enough how vital exercise is for your well-being and longevity. Experts recommend a total of 150 to 300 minutes of moderate aerobic activity each week and resistance training at least twice a week.