by Leyla Mumin, RDN, LD, MS
Some people believe being active means you are unhappy about your body. It’s actually the opposite. Being active is a way of self-care. It releases endorphins (chemicals in the brain) in your body, which boost your mood and sense of well-being. Although it can be tempting to sit on your couch and binge watch your favorite shows for hours, there are negative health consequences to not being active. If you find yourself stressing out about getting to the gym, try re-framing your mindset. Being active is your “me” time. This makes working out less of a task, and more of a treat. Physical activity is essential for maintaining good health and well-being. Engaging in regular exercise and movement has a host of benefits for both the body and mind.
Good for Your Heart
Regular physical activity can improve your cardiovascular health by strengthening your heart and reducing your risk of developing heart disease. Why is this? When you exercise, your heart rate increases, and your blood vessels dilate, improving blood flow and oxygen delivery to your body's tissues. This helps your heart work more efficiently, reducing the strain on your cardiovascular system. Engaging in regular physical activity can also help to lower blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for heart disease. Physical activity can also help to reduce inflammation, which can contribute to the development of heart disease.
Boosts Your Mental Health
Physical activity is beneficial for mental health as well. Exercise has been shown to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, improve overall mood, and increase self-esteem. Physical activity improves cognitive functions, such as memory and concentration. Exercise is a natural stress reliever. Engaging in physical activity regularly can help reduce stress levels and improve overall mental health. Exercise also improves sleep quality.
Helps With Weight Management
Physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight, or lose excess weight. When you engage in physical activity, your body uses energy to power your muscles, which helps to burn calories. Daily exercise can also increase your metabolism, making it easier to regulate a healthy weight. In addition to burning calories, physical activity can help to maintain muscle mass. This helps to prevent muscle loss that can occur with aging. Did you know muscle tissue burns more calories than fat tissue? This means maintaining a healthy muscle mass can help you burn more calories, even when you're at rest.
Reduced Risk of Chronic Diseases
Regular physical activity has been linked to a reduced risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, some types of cancer, and osteoporosis. How does this work? Exercise helps to regulate blood sugar levels, which can reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Physical activity also helps to maintain bone density, reducing the risk of osteoporosis. In addition, physical activity can reduce the risk of certain types of cancer, such as breast and colon cancer. Why is this? Exercise helps to reduce inflammation in the body, which can contribute to the development of cancer. Even working out for just 3 hours a week has shown positive results for your body.
Increased Energy and Stamina
Regular physical activity can improve your energy levels and overall stamina. How does this work? Exercise helps to improve circulation, which means more oxygen and nutrients are delivered to the muscles. This improves their ability to work efficiently. It can also reduce feelings of fatigue and increase overall energy levels. Physical activity aids in building endurance, which is important for activities such as running, cycling, or swimming. Regular exercise increases your endurance levels over time, allowing you to perform aerobic activities for longer periods of time, without feeling fatigued.
The Bottom Line
Physical activity has numerous benefits for overall health and well-being. Engaging in regular exercise can improve your heart health, aid in weight management, improve mental health, reduce the risk of chronic diseases, and increase energy levels. It is important to make physical activity a regular part of your daily routine to reap these benefits and maintain good health.
- Peluso, M.A. and Andrade, L.H. (2005) ‘Physical activity and mental health: The association between exercise and mood’, Clinics, 60(1), pp. 61–70. doi:10.1590/s1807-59322005000100012. 2
- Warburton, D.E.R. and Bredin, S.S.D. (2017) ‘Health benefits of physical activity’, Current Opinion in Cardiology, 32(5), pp. 541–556. doi:10.1097/hco.0000000000000437.