Recharge your resolve to stay fit

If you find your resolve to exercise weakening, read these benefits of exercise—they'll fire you up again

woman doing stretching exerciseIn today's world, we need to make a determined effort to be active. Regular exercise reduces the risk of illness by as much as 20 – 50 per cent. To keep our bodies functioning efficiently, we need to fit in exercise into our busy lives.

Overall benefits

Physical activity helps you look and feel better. Your posture, stamina, balance and energy levels improve. You even sleep better, and can combat depression and stress easily. You begin losing weight and enjoy higher immunity levels.

Need more reasons to exercise? Take a look at what exercise does:

  • Reduces the risk of heart disease
  • Lowers blood pressure levels
  • Decreases bad [LDL] cholesterol
  • Reduces the risk of osteoporosis
  • Improves posture
  • Betters agility and flexibility
  • Improves immunity levels

Not only does regular exercise help you keep disease at bay, but also helps in existing conditions. Here's what it does:

Controls obesity

Obesity is associated with several health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, respiratory disease, hypertension and osteoarthritis. Exercise, coupled with a good diet, is the ideal way to lose weight.

Keeps diabetes in check

Exercise improves glucose regulation, reduces excess weight and the risk for heart disease, and regularises cholesterol levels. If you're a diabetic, the timing of exercise, the amount of insulin injected and the injection site are important factors to consider before exercise.

Reduces hypertension

Regular low-impact aerobic exercise is known to bring down systolic as well as diastolic blood pressure by an average of 10mm Hg.

Eases arthritis

Avoiding exercise is the commonest mistake we make. In time, this leads to stiffness in the joints and reduced strength. Stretching exercises are important to preserve range of motion and flexibility around each joint.

Avoids osteoporosis

Our body contains 200 bones that make up its framework. Bones need calcium as a source of nourishment. The right kind of exercise done on a regular basis improves calcium absorption in the bones, resulting in greater bone density.

Keeps your heart healthy

Regular exercise strengthens the heart muscle, and keeps the blood vessels working in optimal condition. Exercise makes the heart more resistant to stress, heart attack and heart disease.

The fitness triangle

A well-structured exercise routine should include cardiovascular fitness, strength and flexibility training—three sides of a fitness triangle.

  • Cardiovascular fitness: This is the base of the triangle. Doing aerobic exercises like walking, jogging, cycling done for at least 20 minutes, 3 – 5 days a week improves functioning of the heart, lungs and circulatory system.
  • Strength training: This is the second side of the fitness triangle. Strong muscles allow you to do activities with increased energy and ease. Strength training improves bone density, builds strength, enhances metabolism, improves posture and shapes the body. You must train each major muscle group 2 – 3 times per week.
  • Flexibility training: This is the third side of the fitness triangle. Flexibility exercises keep the body supple, flexible and free from muscular stress. In addition, they improve the flow of blood and nutrients to joints, help relax muscles, mobilise stiff joints and improve posture.

Often neglected, this aspect of fitness is as important as cardiovascular and strength training. Include stretching in the warm-up or cool-down phase of your exercise session. Better still, do a yoga or stretch or pilates routine 2 – 3 times a week.

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Namita Jain
Namita Jain is a Mumbai-based certified Clinical Exercise Specialist, Lifestyle and Weight management Consultant from the American Council on Exercise [ACE] and certified Health and Fitness Instructor from the American College of Sports Medicine [ACSM]. She is the Founder of LiveActive, a wellness company that delivers effective and holistically designed wellness programmes based on individual needs.

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