20 December 2007

The Many Benefits of Exercise, Part 2:

Exercise (or any physical activity) is of essential importance to both physical and psychological wellbeing. In this article we will examine the physical benefits of exercise, of which there are many indeed. If nothing else I hope this article will motivate those who do little exercise to increase it, for it truly does pay off great dividends.

Most people think only of the benefits of weight loss or weight maintenance when it comes to exercise. This is indeed one important aspect of it however it has many more important facets which are well worth thinking about. Often we get far to caught up with media driven images of body image and thus use exercise to obtain a more aesthetic physique. The focus should more so be on health, as many of the benefits of exercise may not be physically obvious, but nonetheless it has been proven without a doubt that exercise is fantastic for our overall wellbeing. When we exercise all sorts of hormones are released which change how the body reacts to further external stimuli. It is a very complex hormonal interplay which to be honest I am not qualified to speak of in detail however, regardless of what exactly is going on, we do know what many of the results of this are:

Exercise has been shown to decrease ones rate of heart disease, high blood pressure, osteoporosis (better bone density as a result of exercise), diabetes and weight gain. It has been shown to increase energy levels and also increase ones quality of sleep. If you lead a sedentary lifestyle try exercising more and see if it helps you to sleep better. Exercise also strengthens the immune system, sharpens reflexes and can even combat the most feared disease of all, cancer! (Heres a reference for that rather strong claim: http://sportsmedicine.about.com/cs/exercisephysiology/a/aa090501a.htm) Exercise has also been proven to increase longevity, albeit only by a small amount. (I will add a link to a future post on this shortly)

However one way in which exercise is often overlooked is in its ability to increase ones strength and energy, which results in a better quality of life. Particularly the elderly, disabled and weak can benefit from these effects. As people do less physical activity today than ever before more and more people are susceptible to easily avoidable injuries. Exercise could curb this problem.

Increasing your activity levels will also help with more psychological based problems, thus exercise is good for both your physical and psychological wellbeing. The next post, "The Many Benefits of Exercise, Part 3", will focus on these psychological benefits and illustrate how the psychological and physiological aspects of humanity are indubitably intertwined. You’ll no doubt be surprised at what a remarkable effect a little exercise can have upon the brain.

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