There are many components to good health, but one of the most critical is exercise. Research into a broad variety of illnesses reveals that regular exercise can prevent disease in numerous ways, thanks to its beneficial effects on everything from weight and heart health, to bone growth and mood. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services studies link sedentary lifestyles to 23 percent of deaths from major chronic diseases and people who are physically active generally outlive those who are inactive.
Maintains healthy weight
One of the chief ways regular exercise prevents disease is by helping maintain a healthy weight. The “International Journal of Obesity” reports that numerous studies show that exercise combined with diet not only increases initial weight loss but helps people maintain that weight loss over time. This protects against a range of obesity related diseases including diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
Regulates Blood Pressure
Exercise can be as effective as medication in lowering blood pressure. This is because regular exercise makes your heart stronger, which means it pumps blood more efficiently, thus lowering your blood pressure. You should emphasize cardiovascular exercise such as walking, swimming, jogging or cycling — and do it at least 30 minutes per day. Lifting heavy weights can temporarily increase blood pressure, so if you want to do weight training check with your doctor first and do more repetitions of lighter weights.
Promotes Heart Health
To keep your heart healthy, and avoid the risks of coronary artery disease, you need to do regular exercise. The American Heart Association reports that physical inactivity is a major risk factor for developing coronary artery disease, where fatty substances and cholesterol build up in the arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle, increasing your chance of suffering a heart attack. Even those who have already suffered a heart attack can improve their heart health and reduce the risk of future attacks by taking up regular exercise.
Bone is living tissue that responds to exercise by becoming stronger, and regular exercise can help help prevent degenerative bone diseases like osteoporosis. According to the National Institutes of Health, those who exercise regularly generally have more bone density and strength than those who do not. The most beneficial exercises for bone health include weight-training, running, hiking and tennis.
Improves Mental Health
Regular exercise is a key factor in preventing and treating mental health problems. The U.S. Department of Health and Human services reports that exercise can help people overcome symptoms of depression and anxiety, improve their sense of well-being and may stimulate the growth of brain cells that enhance learning and memory, which are hampered by depression. The sense of accomplishment gained from physical fitness can boost your mood and give you a sense of accomplishment.
- “International Journal of Obesity”; Long-Term Weight Loss After Diet and Exercise: a Systematic Review; CC Curioni; October 2005
- American Heart Association: Physical Activity
- NIH Osteoporosis and Related Bone Disease National Resource Center: Exercise for your Bone Health
- U.S. Department of Health & Human Services: Physical Activity Fundamental to Preventing Disease