We all want to keep our bodies young and healthy so that we can live long, happy and fulfilling lives. There are so many devastating health conditions – diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancer – that threaten a lengthy, healthy life. There is one simple thing you can do every day to help you deflect those health problems and protect your body from damage and deterioration: exercise.
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The Dangers of Being Sedentary
According to the American Heart Association, lack of exercise drastically increases the risk of heart problems – specifically coronary artery disease, in which arteries become clogged with cholesterol and other fatty materials and prevent sufficient blood supply to the heart. But camping out on the couch instead of getting regular exercise also increases the risk of additional risk factors for coronary artery disease, including high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, being obese, and developing diabetes.
Protective Benefits of Exercise
If you're not exercising, you're putting yourself at risk for developing a number of serious health conditions. But if you are getting regular physical activity, the opposite is true – you're actually protecting yourself against those diseases and improving your health. Regular exercise can protect your heart, keep blood pressure and cholesterol levels healthy, maintain a healthy body weight, and protect against diabetes. All of these issues are risk factors for suffering a stroke, so exercise also helps to protect against stroke. Exercise also helps to protect against depression, and helps you better manage stress.
Getting Enough Exercise
Even a little exercise can protect you from poor health. The AHA says that you only need to get about 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week. Try to push yourself to do more for even better physical fitness and health: exercise for longer than 30 minutes at a time, and exercise every day of the week instead of just most. Make yourself exercise at least at a moderate intensity, harder when you've built up your stamina. Just take a walk, ride your bike, go for a swim or take a yoga class.
Exercise plays a major role in protecting your health, but there's much more you can do. Combine your regular exercise plan with a healthy diet. Eat more plants than meat. Base your diet on fruits and vegetables, with lean meats, fish, nuts and beans for protein. Only eat grains that are whole, and limit sweets and desserts. Watch your fat and calorie intake, limit alcohol and don't smoke. All of these provide your body with the energy it needs to enjoy your exercise – and better health.