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What are Three Benefits of Exercise

Exercise can benefit people of every age, size, and fitness level. When people think about exercise, they often imagine a fit young jogger in spandex or a bodybuilder with bulging muscles. You don’t have to make a lifestyle out of exercise to experience benefits for your life and body.

Recent research proves that five to ten minutes a day of exercise can reduce weight, boost mood, and improve your heart function. It’s probably not enough to train for an Iron Man race or compete in a body-building competition, but it’s enough to give your lifestyle a boost and deliver health benefits.

Exercise doesn’t have to be painful or boring either. Dancing in your living room, walking the dog, taking a stroll through nature, or finding a fun YouTube video to follow all count as much as running, swimming, or going to the gym.

You can make it a social activity or an opportunity to carve out time alone. Either way, if you’re looking for a good reason to start or resume a movement routine, here are three benefits of exercise.

1. Exercise Can Boost Your Energy Levels

Exercise boosts your energy levels by helping your heart and lungs deliver more oxygen and nutrients to your cells.

There are times when your body needs to rest, and it’s important to respect that. The rest of the time, however, when you’re not in the habit of doing it, exercise can seem hard. We haven’t been exercising, so we don’t have that boost of energy that it delivers.

During my more sluggish periods, I might feel like I don’t have the energy to do anything. For example, I think about taking my dog for a walk in the woods, and it feels like I need coffee to do it. However, if I get myself up and out and breathe the air and move my body, I feel better and more energized afterward. Plus, I no longer want that extra cup of coffee.

In a study looking at healthy people who felt a persistent sense of fatigue, six weeks of regular exercise helped them feel more energized.

Even people who have chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and other serious illnesses feel the benefits of regular exercise.

Regardless of your current state of health, a little regular movement will improve your well-being.

What are three benefits of exercise? Couple holding hands while hiking through trees. Photo by Peter Kee on Unsplash
Regular activity makes you feel more energized.

2. Exercise Helps You Sleep Better

The energy you burn during regular exercise stimulates the recuperative process during sleep. The result is longer and deeper sleep, after which you feel more rested.

If you increase your body temperature during exercise, your body balances that with extra cooling during your sleep period. This drop in body temperature also improves the quality of your sleep.

Thirty minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise five times a week gave participants as much as a 65% improvement in sleep quality in one study.

However, if you don’t have thirty minutes a day, one minute of intense exercise inside a ten-minute workout delivers health results similar to 50 minutes of continuous activity.

Several studies found that older people who may struggle with sleep experience fewer sleep disorders with regular exercise.

Quality sleep benefits our mental health, helps us think clearly, makes us more adaptable, and supports overall well-being. So even if there were no other benefits from your workout routine, better sleep nourishes every area of your life.

3. Exercise Can Reduce Your Risk of Disease and Keep You Healthier Longer

A sedentary lifestyle is a significant contributor to many of today’s chronic illnesses. This is because it makes it harder for our organs and systems to do their jobs.

Our cardiovascular system, lymphatic system, and digestive system all rely on circulation. They keep us healthy by delivering nutrients and discarding waste, so the more they all flow, the better. An exercise routine, even a short one, helps them circulate.

Exercise decreases your risk of heart disease by boosting high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, the “good” cholesterol, and decreasing unhealthy triglycerides. It strengthens your heart and reduces your blood pressure.

About 27 million Americans have diabetes. Exercise helps prevent diabetes by lowering your blood sugar and helping your insulin work better. In addition, people who already have diabetes can use regular exercise to help manage their condition.

Regular moderate-to-vigorous exercise helps prevent or manage many health conditions, including:

  • Stroke
  • High blood pressure
  • Metabolic syndrome (high blood pressure and blood sugar, excess fat around the waist, abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels)
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Many types of cancer
  • Arthritis
  • Depression
  • Anxiety

Older people or those dealing with an illness may benefit most from strength, balance, and flexibility exercises. Younger and healthy people should mix aerobic and strengthening exercises.

In general, if you exercise moderately or gently, then 30 minutes five times a week would be a target. On the other hand, if you exercise vigorously or do intervals, then 15 to 20 minutes three times a week is good.

However, the bottom line in any exercise program is to breathe and get your body fluids circulating. Any movement that makes you happy is a better choice than something you have to force yourself to go and do.

What are three benefits of exercise? A group of men play ice hockey on a frozen lake with homemade goal sets
Choose an exercise you enjoy doing.

11 Ideas to Make Exercise Fun

We are all individuals. We like different TV shows, foods, books, environments, and vacations. So the best way to stick to an exercise regime is to find one you enjoy, and that fits who you are. Here are 11 ideas to get your creative juices flowing, though don’t limit yourself to this list!

  1. Animate your walk or run with games. Apps like Ingress, Pokémon GO, or Zombies, Run! transform your walk or run into an adventure.
  2. Private dance party. Play your favorite dance songs and move like nobody is watching!
  3. Take the stairs. If you work in an office building or live in an apartment building with a few flights of stairs, you can fit an outstanding leg and glute workout into your everyday routine.
  4. Walking dates with friends. Rather than meeting at a restaurant or café, invite your friends for a walk. You can stroll the neighborhood or meet in a park and distract each other with conversation while you walk.
  5. Dance class. Learning a new dance is a fun way to challenge your coordination and raise your heart rate. Partner classes are great, but you don’t need a partner to learn to dance! If hip-hop isn’t your style, line dancing, belly dancing, or even pole dancing are popular and fun.
  6. Hiking. Experience nature and breathe in the fresh air. Meetup.com often offers hiking activity groups if you don’t have a dog or prefer company on your hike.
  7. Jump rope. You may be surprised at what a challenging aerobic exercise jump rope actually can be. You can learn jump rope routines online.
  8. Hula hoop. Kids make it look fun, but be prepared for some sore stomach muscles as you learn!
  9. Join a team sport. Community sports are a fun way to stay active and meet new people.
  10. Trampolining. Some areas have trampoline parks where you can go. You can also purchase a small (but stable!) trampoline for your home. Bounce while you listen to your favorite music or program.
  11. Bike riding. Cycling is something you can do solo or in a group, on the roads, or through the woods. If you want company on your rides, join a cycling club for regular rides around your area.

Slow and Steady Effort Achieves Your Target

As with any change in routine, small incremental adjustments are more sustainable than sweeping declarations. You can have a lofty goal, like running a marathon or 30 minutes a day five times a week, but take your time to build toward it.

If you are starting from a sedentary place, be kind and patient with yourself. Make sure your first goal easy enough that you can do it almost every day without suffering.

So many people rush out and overdo their first day. Then, they are so sore and miserable they don’t go back. It’s better to walk around the block or dance for five minutes in your room than to blow past your current limits.

The great thing about exercise is the more you do it, the more fun it becomes. This is because your body gets used to the activity and starts to urge you to do it. First, however, take it easy on your way there.

Establishing a new habit takes a couple of weeks. Once you are comfortable at one level, you can increase the length or intensity of your exercise if you want to.

Achieving some mental vision or goal is not essential to exercise success. In fact, being too goal-oriented can slow you down or thwart your progress.

Your body will benefit from any amount of regular activity, so be kind to yourself. Give yourself a chance to explore and try new things until you find something fun, or at least enjoyable enough to keep doing.

Happy exercising adventures!

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