If you are looking for the most productive way to live better, becoming more active may be the most important step you take. Exercise can be the key to living a longer more fulfilling life as research suggests that living a more active lifestyle can improve everything from mobility and organ function to mood and libido. If you are ready to make a change in your life, exercise could be the catalyst that brings the balance and vitality to your life that you may have been missing.
Improved Physical Wellness
Being immobile for too long can cause you to gain weight, lose muscle mass, and increase your risk of cardiovascular disease (American Heart Association 2015, pp3). On the other hand, regular exercise will greatly improve cardiovascular fitness, boost your metabolism, increase muscle function and mobility, allowing you to stay active and vibrant as you continue to age (Harvard Health Publications 2017, pp6). Staying active can also help you to lower blood pressure, boost levels of good cholesterol, and increase brain function.
Improved Mental Wellness
Research suggests that exercising helps to stop and in some cases reverse deterioration of the prefrontal cortex, medial temporal cortex, and hippocampus, which are parts of the brain that control memory recollection, retention, and formation (Godman 2014, pp5). In addition, regular exercise can boost, concentration, focus, and mood (AIU 2012, pp6). When your body is active, neurotransmitters that are involved in mood regulation, such as dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin, are released. These chemicals may be responsible for why exercise has been shown to, lift your mood, ward off depression, and promote a general sense of well-being.
Improved Sleep Patterns
Regular exercise can help you sleep better, helping to give you more energy during your day to day activities. Exercise promotes healthier sleep patterns in three different ways. First, physical activity during the day triggers your body to fall asleep faster. Second, it helps to stay in REM sleep longer, which is when your body repairs and rejuvenates itself. Finally, those who exercise wake up less during the night, which can interrupt your sleep patterns and cause you to wake up tired, even after a full night of sleep.
In addition to helping your physical and mental state, regular physical activity can also help to keep you from getting sick. Why this is, researchers are still unsure, but several studies show that those who are physically active are absent from work less than those who do not exercise. Furthermore, regular exercise decrease the risk of heart disease and cancer as well as mentally debilitating diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease (American Heart Association 2017). Flexing those biceps seems to help you flex your immunity muscles too.
Those who exercise benefit from a boost in both libido and performance. A Harvard study found that men who exercised at least 30 minutes each day were 41% less likely to experience erectile dysfunction versus those who did not. Another study found that women who did 20 minutes of cycling each day saw a 169% increase in arousal (Harvard Health 2017).
Ultimately what you get out of life is determined not just by your academic or workplace accomplishments, but by how you live. With all the established benefits of exercise and those that are being discovered every day, it’s easy to see that when you move more, you live more. Start today with something small like a quick walk around your office building. You might be a little happier and healthier for it!
The first step toward living better is giving your body the fuel it requires to keep you strong. In a addition to a healthy diet, exercise will ensure that your life even more fulfilling.
— Contributed by Jack Fleming. Fleming is a personal trainer with over 20 years in the fitness industry. He is an advisor for various fitness related entities and writes regularly for several health and exercise websites, including treadmilltalk.com.
5 Reasons College Students Should Make Time For Exercise. (2012). Aiuniv.edu. Retrieved 2 June 2017, from http://www.aiuniv.edu/blog/september-2012/5-reasons-college-students-should-make-time-for-exercise
Godman, H. (2016). Regular exercise changes the brain to improve memory, thinking skills – Harvard Health Blog. Harvard Health Blog. Retrieved 2 June 2017, from http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/regular-exercise-changes-brain-improve-memory-thinking-skills-201404097110
Physical activity improves quality of life. (2015). Heart.org. Retrieved 2 June 2017, from http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/PhysicalActivity/StartWalking/Physical-activity-improves-quality-of-life_UCM_307977_Article.jsp#.WTGP42jyuCg
Publications, H. (2017). 5 ways exercise improves your quality of life – Harvard Health. Harvard Health. Retrieved 2 June 2017, from http://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/exercise-advice-for-people-with-heart-problems