Most dietary supplement ads on television end with something like, “This supplement only works with proper diet and exercise.” That statement is true because living on supplements alone will not make you healthy. But interestingly, a lifestyle based on an appropriate diet and regular exercise is often enough to make you healthy. This post focuses on how important exercise is. We will cover the general effects of exercise, not just the specific benefits of certain workouts.
Why Exercise is Important?
The body naturally needs to move and exert effort. In the past, humans have had to work hard to survive. They had to chop wood for the fire to cook and have heat; they had to till the ground to have something to eat – these are just a couple of examples in their daily lives. But today, we’re used to just sitting on our bums all day. We can have other people (or even drones) deliver our food, and we can earn money just staring at a screen. We don’t have to move as much as our ancestors did; we don’t get exercise unless we actively pursue it.
Without using our muscles, they deteriorate. Muscle deterioration is a phenomenon called muscle atrophy, which occurs because of disuse and neurogenic. Disuse atrophy is the more common type and results from not using the muscles enough. Unlike other organic structures, the muscles benefit the more you use them. They slowly degenerate if they don’t get any action. You become weaker because your muscles wither away right before your eyes.
Using the muscles just enough will prevent atrophy. But with regular, strenuous exercise, you can make your muscles stronger. And that is perhaps the first reason most people think of why exercise is essential.
Exercise Strengthens the Muscles
Any vigorous exercise that makes your muscles work more effortfully than usual strengthens your muscles. Although scientists do not fully understand how exercise strengthens muscles, they know two primary principles. These principles are hypertrophy and neural adaptations. Muscles undergo hypertrophy to cope with regular strenuous exercise given enough rest and dietary protein. Hypertrophy is the opposite of atrophy. Instead of the muscles wasting away due to lack of use, they become bigger and stronger.
When you work your muscles vigorously, you are tearing their fibers. In response, the body tries to repair them – and more – using dietary proteins; protein is the primary building block of muscular tissue. The body does more than repair the muscles to prepare them for future exertions; it will build the muscles to more than they were before the exercise. The second principle is neural adaptations—the nerves surrounding untrained muscles fire signals in an asynchronous manner. But the more you train your muscles, the more they learn to recruit more muscle cells simultaneously.
What does that mean? Simply put, exercise helps train your muscle cells to work together instead of taking turns when doing tasks. This process allows you to employ more muscles at once, therefore giving you the benefit of strength.
Exercise is Great for Weight Control
One of the primary sources of energy is food. But what if you don’t use your energy reserves? Then the food you intake transforms into fat, generally. A regular exercise is an excellent tool for weight control because it burns fat. Exercise requires energy; the more vigorous the exercise, the more energy it needs. It stands to reason that the more vigorous the exercise (whether in intensity or longevity), the more fat it consumes.
To ensure that exercise helps in maintaining your weight, consistency is critical. You don’t necessarily have to spend many hours in the gym; just maintaining high levels of activity daily is enough to help you manage your weight. Keeping yourself moving is enough to burn calories that will transform into fat if not used.
Exercise Boosts Positive Moods
This benefit of exercise is perhaps one of the least credited. Exercise releases a hormone called endorphin, colloquially called the “feel-good” chemicals. Endorphin is a happy hormone that has a lot of wholesome benefits. Unlike other hormones that make you feel good (such as dopamine), endorphin is non-addictive. It releases stress, makes you happy, alleviates anxiety, and reduces the risk of depression. Aside from releasing endorphins, exercise also combats stress-inducing hormones like cortisol and adrenaline.
Furthermore, regularly exercising helps you feel better about yourself and how you look. And we all know the value of a healthy self-perception, so such benefits are great for your confidence. If you think that exercise only yields physical health benefits, think again because it is also good for your mental health.
Exercise Improves Energy Levels
We discussed that your body repairs and improves the condition of your muscles with regular exercise; it also does that to the lungs and heart. If you regularly exercise, especially do cardio exercises, you make your lungs and heart work more strenuously until they become more efficient in their jobs. And when your heart and lungs are at their peak, they deliver more oxygen and pump more nutrients all over the body. As a side effect, you have more energy to spare.
Exercise Strengthens Your Immunity
Heart disease, high blood pressure, metabolic syndrome, different types of cancer, arthritis, type 2 diabetes, stroke – you can prevent these diseases, and more, with regular exercise. Exercise is a natural means of strengthening your immunity both in the short and long term. It can function as a modulator of the immune system.
Exercise can help prevent diseases by flushing out bacteria from the lungs and airways; it also flushes toxins from the body through sweating. Exercise also makes antibodies and white blood cells circulating the body more rapidly, increasing the chances of detecting illnesses earlier.
There are More Benefits to Exercise
The five reasons I enumerated explaining why exercise is important are not all the reasons that make exercise absolutely essential. These listed benefits are just a few of the countless benefits of exercise.
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