benefits of exercise

Why is exercise important?

Exercise is not only essential for weight loss but for every system in the body. Exercise affects the body from each system to organ to tissue to cell and finally to body chemicals that carry out the processes necessary for sustaining life. Every system is positively affected by exercise.

Metabolism is the process by which your body converts what you eat and drink into energy. During this complex biochemical process, calories in food and beverages are combined with oxygen to release the energy your body needs to function. Even when you're at rest, your body needs energy for all its functions, such as breathing, circulating blood, adjusting hormone levels, and growing and repairing cells. This is why extreme dieting not good. This is called your basal metabolic rate and accounts for 60-75 percent of your calorie expenditure. The bodies of people who are larger or have more muscle burn up more calories, even at rest. Men usually have less body fat and more muscle than women of the same age and weight, which means they burn more calories. As you get older, the amount of muscle tends to decrease and fat accounts for more of your weight, slowing down calorie burning. In addition to your basal metabolic rate, two other factors determine how many calories your body burns each day. Thermogenesis, digesting, absorbing, transporting and storing the food you consume uses about 10 percent of daily calorie expenditure and physical activity like exercise account for the rest of the calories your body burns up each day. Unfortunately, weight gain is most commonly the result of eating more calories than you burn. To lose weight, then, you need to create an energy deficit by eating fewer calories and increase the number of calories you burn through physical activity. Exercise also increases enzymes in the body that burn fat.

The heart is strengthened by exercise in many ways. Not only does it increase its size and strength, its cardiac output, the contractility of the heart ventricles, and blood flow it also lowers resting heart rate, improves circulation, helps lower blood pressure, and lowers cholesterol along with reducing plaque. These benefits help prevent blocked arteries in turn reducing the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

The muscles of the respiratory system such as the diaphragm and the intercostals muscles, which are in between your ribs, get stronger through exercise. This is so that they can make the chest cavity larger. Having a larger chest cavity means that you can have a increased Vital capacity. This is because more air is able to be inspired. More capillaries are formed around the alveoli so that more gaseous exchange can take place meaning that exercise can be maintained at a higher intensity for longer.

Depression is a common and a serious illness affecting at least 1 in 5 people during their lifetime. Exercise has been advocated as an adjunct to usual treatment. Exercise is thought to help ease depression in a number of ways, by releasing feel-good brain chemicals that may ease depression (neurotransmitters and endorphins), reducing immune system chemicals that can worsen depression and increasing body temperature, which may have calming effects. There are also the psychological affects that may be of benefit like increased confidence, social interaction, taking your mind off your worries, decreasing stress.

Exercise increases size, strength and tone of a muscle. This increases metabolic rate, increases the number and size of mitochondria (cells that produce energy) in muscle cell, improves blood sugar balance by improving glycogen storage and increases concentration of myoglobin (carries oxygen in muscles). Muscle contraction and reaction time is improved by exercise, cramps such as menstrual cramps can be alleviated and with the correct exercise program posture can be improved.

Exercise helps increase cartilage so moderate amounts of joint-loading exercise may protect against osteoarthritis risk.

Exercise makes calcium transport in the heart and body more efficient. This is important for nerve impulses. The more a person stimulates neuromuscular system through co-ordination type exercise, the more neuron pathways become effective at doing work that requires stability and equilibrium.

Exercise is very important in managing type 2 diabetes; which is a self-inflicted type of diabetes. Combined with the right diet, exercise will help control your weight and blood sugar levels. Exercise lowers insulin levels, because burning excess body fat helps decrease and control weight, which results in improved insulin sensitivity. Exercise increases muscle mass which gives your body more space to store blood sugar helping to control blood sugar levels.

Exercise is important for treating and preventing osteoporosis. Like muscle, bone is living tissue that responds to exercise by becoming stronger. Certain cells called osteoblasts constantly bring calcium into bones to make them stronger and cells called osteoclasts take calcium from bones. Exercise increases the rate that osteoblasts strengthen bones, so in effect, lack of exercises slow osteoblastic activity down and weakens the bones. Young women and men who exercise regularly generally achieve greater peak bone mass (maximum bone density and strength) than those who do not. For most people, bone mass peaks during the third decade of life. After that time, we can begin to lose bone. Women and men older than age 20 can help prevent bone loss with regular exercise.

During moderate exercise immune cells circulate through the body more quickly, and are better able to kill bacteria and viruses. After the exercise ends, the immune system returns to normal within a few hours. However, consistent, regular exercise seems to make these changes more long lasting.

Constipation is a chronic problem for many around the world. Surprisingly, handling constipation can be as simple as lifestyle changes such as adding in exercise to your daily routine. Doctors routinely cite a lack of physical activity as a barrier to good digestion. Regular cardiovascular exercise helps to strengthen the muscles of the abdomen and reduces sluggishness by stimulating the intestinal muscles to push digestive contents through your system.

Other benefits are:

  • Enhances quality of sleep
  • Cancer: Exercise protects against certain forms of cancer
  • Improves athletic performance
  • Increases your range of motion
  • Improves liver functioning
  • Helps to alleviate varicose veins.

As well as the physical effects of exercise there are also psychological benefits for example:

  • Feeling of achievement
  • Increased confidence and self worth
  • Promotion of relaxation
  • Increased sleep
  • Decreased stress

This article has
been written by
Terry Fairclough