The benefits you will receive from a dedication to a lifelong exercise program include feeling younger and living longer.
It’s true, people with high levels of physical fitness are at a much lower risk of actually dying from a variety of health issues and causes, compared to people who don’t follow a regular exercise program. This is according to a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The Benefits of Sticking with an Exercise Program
Research also shows that exercise enhances sleep, prevents weight gain and reduces the risk of high blood pressure, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and even depression.
“One current study has found that when breast cancer survivors engaged in exercise, there were marked improvements in physical activity, strength, maintaining weight, and social well-being,” states Rachel Permuth-Levine, PhD, deputy director for the Office of Strategic and innovative Programs at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health.
Another study looked at patients with stable heart failure and determined that exercise relieves symptoms, improves the quality of life, reduces hospitalization, and in some cases, reduces the risk of death.
It has been proven that exercise isn’t only important for people who are already living with health conditions; “If we can see benefits of moderate exercise in people who are recovering from disease, we might see even greater benefits in those of us who are generally well,” Dr. Permuth-Levine pointed out.
A major misconception is that people need to hit exercise programs hard to gain benefits, as with the saying “No pain, no gain”. Well that just isn’t true. As a matter of fact, nothing could be further from the truth.
Physical activity doesn’t need to be strenuous to produce results. Even moderate exercise five or six times a week can lead to lasting health benefits. When incorporating more physical activity into your life, remember three simple guidelines:
- Exercise at moderate intensity for at least 2 hours and 30 minutes spread over the course of each week.
- Avoid periods of inactivity; some exercises at any level of intensity is better than none at all.
- At least twice a week, supplement aerobic exercise (cardio) with weight-bearing activities that strengthen all major muscle groups.
Make Exercising a Habit
The number one excuse given for why people don’t exercise is lack of time. If you’re finding it difficult to fit extended periods of exercise into your schedule, keep in mind that short bouts of physical activity (10-minute segments) will also help you achieve your health benefits.
Experts say, set realistic goals and take small steps to fit more movement into your daily life, including taking the stairs instead of the elevator and walking to the grocery store instead of driving, “The key is to start gradually and be prepared,” says Permuth-Levine. “Have your shoes, pedometer, and music ready so you don’t have any excuses.”
Change up your routine, like swimming one day and walking the next, this will help you stick with your new exercise habit. Get out and start a baseball or soccer game with your kids.
Even if the weather doesn’t cooperate, have a plan B ready at all times, use an exercise bike in your home, check out the exercise equipment at a nearby community center, or consider joining a health club. The trick is to get to the point where you look at exercise like brushing your teeth and getting enough sleep, just something you do for your own well-being.
Always remember that physical fitness is attainable. Even with small changes, you can reap big rewards that will pay off for years to come.
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