Do you know how many minutes of moderate physical exercise you should get per day and what the benefits are?
As a general goal, we should all aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity every day. If you want to lose weight, maintain weight loss or meet specific fitness goals, you may need to exercise more. If you want to aim even higher, you can achieve more health benefits if you ramp up your exercise to 300 minutes or more a week.
If you’re short on large chunks of time, even brief bouts of activity offer benefits. For instance, if you can't fit in one 30-minute walk during the day, try a few five-minute walks instead. Any activity is better than none at all. What's most important is making regular physical activity part of your lifestyle.
Here are the top 10 reasons why you should exercise regularly:
1. It can make you happier
Exercise has been shown to improve your mood and decrease feelings of depression, anxiety and stress. It produces changes in the parts of the brain that regulate stress and anxiety and can also increase brain sensitivity for the hormones serotonin and norepinephrine, which relieve feelings of depression.
Exercise can also increase the production of endorphins, which are known to help produce positive feelings and reduce the perception of pain.
Studies show that it doesn’t matter how intense your workout is either. Your mood can benefit from exercise no matter the intensity of the physical activity. Regardless if the activity type, the effects of exercise on mood are so powerful that choosing to exercise (or not) even makes a difference over short periods.
2. It can help with weight loss
Some studies have shown that inactivity is a major factor in weight gain and obesity. To understand the effect of exercise on weight reduction, it is important to understand the relationship between exercise and energy expenditure.
Your body spends energy in three ways: digesting food, exercising and maintaining body functions like your heartbeat and breathing. While dieting, a reduced calorie intake will lower your metabolic rate, which will delay weight loss. While regular exercise has been shown to increase your metabolic rate, which will burn more calories and help you lose weight.
Studies have also shown that combining aerobic exercise with resistance training can maximize fat loss and muscle mass maintenance, which is essential for keeping the weight off.
3. It's good for your muscles and bones
Exercise plays a vital role in building and maintaining strong muscles and bones. Physical activity like weight lifting can stimulate muscle building when paired with adequate protein intake because exercise helps release hormones that promote the ability of your muscles to absorb amino acids, which helps them grow and reduces their breakdown.
As we age, we tend to lose muscle mass and function, which can lead to injuries and disabilities so practicing regular physical activity is essential to reducing muscle loss and maintaining strength as we get older.
Exercise also helps build bone density when you’re younger, in addition to helping prevent osteoporosis later in life.
Interestingly, high-impact exercise, such as gymnastics or running, or odd-impact sports, such as soccer and basketball, have been shown to promote a higher bone density than non-impact sports like swimming and cycling.
4. It can increase your energy
Exercise can be a real energy booster for healthy people, as well as those suffering from various medical conditions. One study I found indicated that six weeks of regular exercise reduced feelings of fatigue for 36 healthy people who had reported persistent fatigue.
Exercise can also significantly increase energy levels for people suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome and other serious illnesses. In fact, it seems to be more effective at combating chronic fatigue syndrome than other treatments, including passive therapies like relaxation and stretching, or no treatment at all. It has also been shown to increase energy levels in people suffering from progressive illnesses, such as cancer, HIV/AIDS and multiple sclerosis.
5. It can reduce risk of chronic disease
Lack of regular physical activity is a primary cause of chronic disease. Exercising regularly has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity, cardiovascular fitness and body composition, yet decrease blood pressure and blood fat levels.
In contrast, a lack of regular exercise, even in the short term, can lead to significant increases in belly fat, which increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and early death.
Daily physical activity is recommended to reduce belly fat and decrease the risk of developing these diseases. But don’t forget about stress reduction too, which increases cortisol levels and in turn increase belly fat. Regular exercise can assist with stress management and the feel good hormones mentioned above.
6. It can improve skin health
Your skin can be affected by the amount of oxidative stress in your body. Oxidative stress occurs when the body’s antioxidant defences can’t completely repair the damage that free radicals cause to our cells. This can damage their internal structures and deteriorate your skin.
Even though intense and exhaustive physical activity can contribute to oxidative damage, regular moderate exercise can increase your body’s production of natural antioxidants, which help protect cells. In the same way, exercise can stimulate blood flow and induce skin cell adaptations that can help delay the appearance of skin aging.
7. It can help your brain health and memory
Exercise can improve brain function and protect memory and thinking skills. It increases your heart rate, which promotes the flow of blood and oxygen to your brain. It can also stimulate the production of hormones that can enhance the growth of brain cells. The ability of exercise to prevent chronic disease can translate into benefits for your brain, since its function can be affected by these diseases.
Regular physical activity is especially important in older adults since aging — combined with oxidative stress and inflammation — promotes changes in brain structure and function. Exercise has been shown to cause the hippocampus, a part of the brain that’s vital for memory and learning, to grow in size. This serves to increase mental function in older adults. Lastly, exercise has been shown to reduce changes in the brain that can cause Alzheimer’s disease.
8. It can help you relax and sleep better
When it comes to sleep quality, the energy depletion that occurs during exercise stimulates recuperative processes during sleep. The increase in body temperature that also occurs during exercise is thought to improve sleep quality by helping it drop during sleep.
There are many studies on the effects of exercise on sleep that have reached similar conclusions. One study found that 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous activity per week can provide up to a 65% improvement in sleep quality. Another showed that 16 weeks of physical activity increased sleep quality and helped 17 people with insomnia sleep longer and more deeply than the control group. It also helped them feel more energized during the day. Also, engaging in regular exercise seems to be beneficial for the elderly, who tend to be affected by sleep disorders.
You can be flexible with the kind of exercise you choose as it appears that either aerobic exercise alone or aerobic exercise combined with resistance training can equally help sleep quality.
9. It can reduce chronic pain
Chronic pain can be debilitating, but exercise can actually help reduce it. In fact, for many years, the recommendation for treating chronic pain was rest and inactivity. However, recent studies show that exercise helps to actually relieve it and helps people suffering from it to improve their quality of life.
Several studies show that exercise can help control pain that’s associated with various health conditions, such as chronic low back pain, fibromyalgia and chronic soft tissue shoulder disorder. Physical activity can also raise pain tolerance and decrease pain perception.
10. It can promote a better sex life
I had to save the best for last! Exercise has also been proven to boost sex drive. Engaging in regular exercise can strengthen the cardiovascular system, improve blood circulation, tone muscles and enhance flexibility, all of which can improve your sex life. Physical activity can improve sexual performance and sexual pleasure, as well as increase the frequency of sexual activity.
A group of women in their 40s observed that they has better experiences when they incorporated more strenuous exercise, such as sprints, boot camps and weight training, into their lifestyles. Also, among a group of 178 healthy men, the men that reported more exercise hours per week had higher sexual function scores and another study found that a simple routine of a six-minute walk around the house helped 41 men reduce their erectile dysfunction symptoms by 71% — say goodbye to Viagra with just 6 minutes a day!
Not sure how to start a regular exercise regimen?
Contact me today for a free 45-minute consultation on how to get started.