Most dieters would agree exercise is an essential component of a weight loss plan. Regular workouts make it much easier to maintain a calorie deficit, so the body draws upon its reserves of stored fat to fuel itself. That is the principle upon which the programs on My Blackmores are based.
However, there is much more to exercise than its role in burning calories. Our bodies are designed to move and be active and physical activity benefits every single bodily system. It also improves mood and boosts energy.
So, next time you lace up your trainers, remember that you’re exercising for your complete health, not only for the sake of reaching your goal weight. Here are 7 excellent reasons for getting physical today.
Monday: A strong heart, helps support cardiovascular health
If you’re active, you have a 45% lower risk of developing heart disease.
Exercise makes the heart stronger – it’s a muscle, after all – helping it to pump more blood through the body. Exercise also leads to other physical benefits that lower some cardiovascular risk factors, including:
- Body weight reduction
- Blood pressure reduction
- Decreasing bad (LDL and total) cholesterol
- Increasing good (HDL) cholesterol
- Increasing insulin sensitivity
Tuesday: Strong bones, helps prevent arthritis and osteoporosis
Exercise has been shown to slow the loss of muscle mass and bone density as we age.
Robin Daly, a professor of Exercise and Ageing at Deakin University, completed a study into exercise and bone strength. In his study, participants combined weight bearing exercises, such as skipping and step ups, with a weights program targeting muscle groups around the hips and spine.
After 18 months, the participants showed a significant increase in hip and spine bone mineral density and hipbone strength, along with improvement in muscle mass, muscle strength and muscle performance.
Wednesday: Improved immune function, fewer colds and infections
You can boost your immunity with 30 to 40 minutes of exercise a day, to help keep viral and bacterial infections at bay.
One study found participants who undertook about 2 hours of moderate daily exercise had a 29% reduction in the risk of contracting an upper respiratory tract infection, such as a cold, compared to those with a sedentary lifestyle. And if exercisers did develop cold symptoms, they were 32% less severe in the top 25% of exercisers compared to the bottom 25%.
Exercise, it appears, increases the number of white blood cells and immunoglobulin in the blood, which reduces the risk of getting a cold. On a side note, people who over-train increase their risk of compromising their immune function and picking up minor infections.
Thursday: Better sleep and reduced stress
If you spend your nights tossing and turning in bed and wake up feeling tired, working up a sweat could be just the tonic.
The participants in a Stanford University Medical School study said they slept better when they added regular exercise to their routine. After 16 weeks in a moderate intensity exercise program, they fell asleep on average 12 minutes earlier and slept around 42 minutes longer than before.
Friday: Better focus and clear thinking
Exercise not only keeps your body in shape, it also keeps your brain in shape.
Scientists used to think the brain was hardwired and unchangeable, but the growing field of neuroplasticity shows it can adapt and improve at any age or stage.
Exercise stimulates the formation of new neural pathways in your brain. This leads to clearer thinking. Physical activity also prevents brain atrophy in the hippocampus, which controls memory.
Saturday: More energy and zest for life
You might have heard the paradox that expending energy gives you more energy.
If you’re feeling tired and lethargic, your first instinct might be to have a lie-down or to grab a cup of coffee or chocolate bar. But putting on your trainers and taking a brisk walk is a more effective and healthy way to put a spark in your day. Don’t take our word for it. Give it a go and see how you feel!
Sunday: Active rest
You don’t have to exercise every day, but it is essential for your health to be active every day.
A study in the Exercise and Sports Sciences Reviews described how prolonged sitting leads to subtle but unhealthy changes in muscle cells.
Unfortunately regular workout sessions do not undo the effects of long hours of inactivity on the sofa watching reruns of Family Guy or at your desk glued to Facebook.
The key is to look for ways to increase physical activity. Take as many steps as you can each day. Also, keep your muscles and skeleton strong and functioning efficiently by standing whenever you can, for example when cooking or ironing, or when waiting for public transport or in a queue.