Regular exercise can lower your risk of heart disease, stroke and some types of cancer, and it can improve your mental health. It has positive effects on your major organs, including your heart and brain, in addition to other body systems such as your muscular and skeletal systems. Meeting basic exercise recommendations by participating in both aerobic and strength-training workouts contributes to better overall health.
Like other muscles, your heart becomes stronger as you exercise. A stronger heart is more efficient because it can pump more oxygen-rich blood to your body with fewer heartbeats. Regular exercise promotes healthy cholesterol levels, which helps keep your arteries -- including those that supply your heart tissue with blood -- free of blockages that increase your risk of a heart attack. Keeping your blood pressure controlled though regular exercise is another important way to reduce your risk of developing heart disease.
Exercise produces benefits for your brain and mental health. It releases feel-good brain chemicals called endorphins that boost your mood. According to the University of New Hampshire, exercise may activate proteins in your brain that help form new brain cells. You may find that you're more alert and able to concentrate better after exercise because of the increase in blood flow to your brain during and after your workout.
Muscles and Bones
Although not individual organs, your body's skeletal and muscular systems each benefit from regular exercise training. Muscle strength and mass decline with age, but regular exercise prevents this and helps keep your joints healthy. Weight-bearing exercises, including running, walking and lifting weights, improve your bone strength and reduce your risk for developing osteoporosis. Increased muscle strength, balance and flexibility from exercise can reduce your risk of falling and becoming injured.
The American College of Sports Medicine recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise five days a week. Working your way up to 60 minutes or more of aerobic exercise may be necessary to promote and sustain weight loss. Muscle-strengthening exercises, including lifting weights, using resistance bands or doing exercises that use your body weight as resistance, are recommended for your major muscle groups at least two times each week. If you're not accustom to exercise, consult with your doctor to determine what type of exercise is best for you.
- Harvard School of Public Health: Staying Active
- Exercise Physiology: Energy, Nutrition and Human Performance; William D. McArdle, Ph.D., Frank I. Katch and Victor L. Katch.
- American Heart Association: Physical Activity Improves Quality of Life
- Amercian College of Sports Medicine: Stress Management for the Modern Adult
- University of New Hampshire: From Minutes to Years, Exercise Helps
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Exercise -- Exercise's Effects on Bones and Muscles
- American College of Sports Medicine: ACSM Issues New Recommendations on Quantity and Quality of Exercise