These days, there is a lot of talk about exercise. Universities and medical institutions are constantly encouraging the public to get more exercise. Gyms, fitness professionals and exercise equipment manufacturers broadcast countless commercials and print ads claiming that their products or services can help you to exercise more efficiently. Even in everyday conversations, people enjoy discussing their passion for or dread of exercising. Whether you love it or hate it, exercise has the potential to produce both positive and negative effects.
Improved Physical Health
One of the most significant benefits associated with exercise is its ability to boost your health. Although modern electronic devices like television, video games and computers have caused people today to live more sedentary lives, the human body is designed for movement. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, adults should get at least two and a half hours of moderate-intensity exercise each week. Getting regular exercise strengthens your bones and muscles, improves your circulation and boosts your energy. Since being active naturally causes your body to burn calories, exercise can help you maintain a healthy weight. Exercise is also an effective tool for managing certain medical problems like arthritis, back pain, diabetes and heart disease.
Improved Mental Health
Exercise can have a positive effect on your mind, as well as on your body. According to the American Heart Association, exercise increases the amount of oxygen your brain receives, resulting in improved memory and mental acuity. Exercise also causes your brain to produce chemicals called endorphins. These chemicals work to boost your mood and to give you a sense of general well-being. As a result, exercising can sometimes be effective in easing depression and relieving stress, making it easier for you to cope with life’s challenges.
Despite all of the physical and psychological benefits associated with exercise, working out does involve a risk of injury. Typical exercise-related injuries include pulled muscles, sprains, strains, breaks, fractures and dislocations. You may be more likely to get injured while exercising if you are out of shape, fail to wear protective gear, perform exercise moves improperly or use exercise equipment incorrectly. In order to reduce your risk of getting injured while exercising, avoid performing exercises that are beyond your physical abilities. Always wear any necessary safety gear, including supportive shoes, helmets and knee pads. Be sure to use exercise equipment correctly by following the instructions provided by the manufacturer.
While exercise is an important part of managing your health, being overzealous about fitness can do more harm than good. Exercising excessively can cause your body to become burnt out and increase your risk of injury. Becoming obsessive about your weight and your body image can lead to poor self-esteem. If you find yourself spending too much time at the gym, you may be developing an unhealthy attitude about the role of exercise. Exercise should be a part of your life, not your entire life. Create a comfortable, healthy exercise routine that will work you out without burning you out.
- "2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans"; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; October 2008
- American Heart Association: Physical Activity Improves Quality of Life
- Baylor College of Medicine;Obsession with Exercise Can Become Disorder; Anissa Or
- Harvard Health Publications: Exercise and Depression