Ask someone if it's important to remain fit and healthy and you'll no doubt hear a quick "yes." But you may encounter a pause if you ask why it's important.
When you understand why an action is beneficial, you have greater motivation to perform that action, and remaining fit and healthy is no different. Additionally, if you can rattle off a list of the benefits of staying healthy and fit, you can motivate friends and loved ones to follow in your healthy path.
Keeping fit and healthy will be the most important thing you do for yourself. Staying active will help you stay strong and ward off the possibility of chronic disease.
Survival of the Fittest
Unless you regularly engage in dangerous activities, the best thing you can do to increase your chance of a long life is to remain fit and healthy. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans reports that the mortality rate for people who sit most of the day skyrockets over someone who is physically active.
Remaining fit reduces your risk of suffering from heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis and many types of cancer. The guidelines recommend that you get 150 to 300 minutes of moderately intense cardio activity a week to maintain or improve your overall health and fitness.
Declaration of Independence
In addition to the likelihood of living longer, you'll have a better quality of life and greater chance of remaining independent during those extra years if you exercise and consume a healthy diet. Staying in good shape gives you more energy to perform everyday tasks at work and at home. That makes it more likely that you'll have energy to spare when the work day is over and it's time to have some fun.
If you remain fit as you age, you also reduce your risk of falling, according to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. In other words, a fit person is not only at less risk for many diseases, but is also less likely to be injured accidentally.
Use Your Head
It's not only the Zen masters who'll tell you that the mind and body are connected. Medical professionals understand the connection as well. According to the American Heart Association, remaining active and fit reduces your risk of depression and helps you maintain a healthy brain. The brain, like your muscles, is a physical construction that can decline with age. But just as exercise can keep the rest of your body healthy, it can also slow or even reverse harmful age-related effects.
Grow Your Brain Cells
Apart from the obvious health benefits of exercising, the social benefits —if you play sports or are involved in fitness classes — your brain reaps the rewards of keeping fit and healthy. BDNF — brain-derived neurotrophic factor —is a protein in the brain that actually grows new brain cells when you exercise on a regular basis, says the American Council on Exercise. Your memory, mood and cognitive ability all improve when this protein is activated.
- Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: "Staying Active"
- Health.gov: “Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd Edition”
- American Heart Association: "Why Is Physical Activity So Important for Health and Wellbeing?"
- American Council on Exercise: "Your Brain on Exercise: The Neuroscience Behind a Good Workout"