- More energy: Exercise strengthens the heart muscle, which allows it to work more efficiently throughout the day. When our hearts pump blood efficiently, they conserve energy and are less likely to become fatigued, keeping our muscles and brains well-oxygenated throughout the day. When are hearts have more endurance, so do we!
- Less stress: Regular exercise routines support our neurologic environments, keeping neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin at optimal levels long-term, staving off depression and anxiety. Exercise also has an immediate effect, too. Terms like “runner’s high” refer to the release of dopamine in the brain after high intensity exercise, which helps us feel relaxed, relieved, and overall “good.”
- Better sleep: While we aren’t quite sure how exactly, exercise improves the quality of sleep as well as our ability to fall asleep at night. Better sleep also brings an array of other health benefits, separate from the exercise. Working out is like killing two birds with one stone! Just be mindful that exercise too close to bed time can have the opposite effect on sleep quality.
- Improved flexibility: Regularly using our muscles helps stave off stiffness and soreness that result from inactivity. This keeps us comfortable as we engage in the activities of life, including physical activities that we enjoy. Stiff and sore muscles, especially in our necks and backs, majorly disrupt our quality of life.
- Reduced risk of injury: As a combination of improved flexibility and strength, exercise helps prevent improper use of muscles that can lead to sprains, strains, slips, and falls. Keeping muscles limber and strong, and practicing proper exercise techniques directly translates into prevention.
- Better blood sugar control: This research article demonstrates that both passive stretching and high intensity exercise lower blood sugar after meals, regulating and stabilizing blood sugar throughout the day. Exercise need not be intense to positively impact health, and is effective for individuals of all abilities.
- Reduced cardiovascular risk: Research (such as this) shows that exercise dramatically reduces risk of cardiovascular disease by improving blood pressure and cholesterol. In fact it can arguably be considered the best intervention for hypertension.
- Exercise can be social: Exercise can be a community activity. Whether joining a running club, taking a leisurely walk with a spouse, lifting with a friend, or attending yoga, pilates, or dance classes, working out doesn’t have to be solitary, though it certainly can be! Exercise however it best meets your needs and your schedule, but it doesn’t have to come with sacrifices in social time.
- It’s empowering: When I talk with my friends and family about exercise, especially strength training, the overwhelming feeling among the women in my life is that exercise makes them feel strong. Women are strong, and for too long in our society, we’ve been seen as weak. But strength is found in resilience, endurance, and persistence, physically as well as emotionally and spiritually. Exercise helps maintain all aspects of your health, carrying you through a dedicated task and strengthening your abilities, holistically.
- Set an example for others: Of course, human behavior is more than monkey-see-monkey-do. But we tend to become like the people we spend the most time with. When the people around you are adopting new health habits, it becomes easier for you to do likewise. Cultivating an exercise routine inspires those around you, and your efforts end up rewarding not only your own health, but your loved ones, too!
What inspires you to move?
Looking for more ideas to start new healthy habits?
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