Thursday, July 28, 2011

10 Reasons to Exercise: Better Quality of Life

Most people have one very specific exercise goal: weight loss. But exercise is beneficial in many other ways. In fact, when your only motivation for exercise is weight loss, you are more likely to fall off the wagon and gain weight back. If you exercise for health and wellness, in addition to weight loss, it will help keep you on track and motivated. Here are the best reasons why exercise is a lifelong commitment and how it can better your life.

1.       Basal metabolic rate (metabolism) decreases with age due to loss of lean tissue (aka muscle mass), so keep up with exercise and increase muscle mass to keep your metabolism high as you age.

2.       Regular exercise will keep blood pressure low. According to National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, about 90% of sedentary people who do not have high blood pressure by age 55 will have hypertension within 20 years, so keep exercising.

3.       Bone density naturally decreases with age. Strength training increases bone density. So hit those weights to keep from getting osteoporosis. Even if you already have signs of osteoporosis, it is never too late to begin lifting weights.

4.       Exercise for better coordination.  As we age, proprioceptive awareness (awareness of the space around us) decreases due to lack of movement and functional training. Exercise will train those muscles to respond to changes in balance, preventing falls and injury.

5.       Exercises decreases LDL cholesterol (the “bad” stuff that causes plaque build-up in arteries) and raises HDL cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol that removes that bad stuff). Too much LDL leads to heart disease, heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, etc.

6.       Exercise reduces blood pressure. Whether you currently have high blood pressure or not, consistent aerobic exercise will reduce it. High blood pressure leads to hardening of the arteries and causes the heart to work much harder to pump blood to the body. Exercise releases that tension and allows the arteries to expand and contract, allowing blood to pump more efficiently.

7.       Keep stretching. As we age our muscles, tendons and ligaments become tight if not regularly stretched, which can cause muscle imbalances and lead to injury. So stretch after every workout, or 5-6 times a week to maintain or increase flexibility.

8.       Diabetes prevention. About 90 to 95% of people who have diabetes have type II or adult onset diabetes. Type II diabetes is preventable to a degree with a healthy lifestyle, diet and exercise. More and more adults are being diagnosed with it, and that leads to eye problems, heart disease, nerve disorders, increased risk of infection and amputation.

9.       Better posture. Muscle imbalances become more apparent as we age. Many older adults walk hunched over which can develop because they have a fear of falling. Eventually their muscles form in that position and make it worse. Eliminate that fear by exercising for coordination and the posture will improve. Strengthen your back muscles to help pull those shoulders back and keep the spine in proper alignment.

10.   Use it or Lose it. Remember, fitness is a lifetime commitment; it is not something that you can quit at. If you do not USE IT, you WILL LOSE IT. Once you hit your exercise or weight goal, you need to keep it up! If you quit, you will lose all benefits. Keep in mind that relapses will happen. Just re-establish new goals and get back on the regime.

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