Exercise and Your Health
The single most significant factor in improving one's health is exercise. Research strongly indicates that exercise alone can improve your health, decrease the risk of serious illness, and reverse some of the degenerative effects of aging. Here's what exercise does for you:
Instead of eating to tackle stress, work up a sweat. The endorphins released from 20 minutes of vigorous exercise can help you say good-bye forever to stress eating.
Strengthens your heart. The heart is a muscle, and it benefits from regular cardiovascular exercise, which means aerobics that will boost your heart rate. A stronger heart can avert arteriosclerosis and reduce high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
Increases lung capacity. Exercise allows your lungs to increase their capacity to hold more oxygen. Exercise also lets your body use the oxygen it gets more efficiently, which increases your metabolism.
Increases bone density. A woman who performs weight-bearing exercises regularly can increase her bone density and prevent the onset of osteoporosis. Studies show that even elderly women can benefit from weight-bearing exercise, such as lifting free weights or using the weight machines at the fitness center.
Improves insulin utilization. Regular exercise lets your body reduce high levels of insulin, which reduces insulin resistance. High levels can lead to storing more fat, to metabolic syndrome, and ultimately, to Type 2 diabetes.
Helps prevent cancer. Yes, you can reduce your risk of cancer by engaging in regular exercise.
Reduces the effects of aging. Exercise improves muscle tone and counteracts the decrease in metabolic rate that comes with age.
Lessens depression and anxiety. The release of endorphins that occurs after about 20 minutes of cardiovascular or aerobic exercise can lift one's mood for hours, perhaps even days. The endorphins soothe anxiety and reduce depression.
Increases mental acuity. Studies indicate that people who exercise regularly have better mental alertness and prowess than those who don't.
Helps balance hormones. Hormones are responsible for energy, sex drive, moods, digestion, and many other bodily functions. Having balanced hormones can reduce the effects of aging and boost your energy.
The health benefits of regular exercise will let you enjoy living at your ideal size. We especially like that endorphin-stimulating exercise can reduce depression and lessen anxiety.
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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Healthy Weight Loss © 2005 by Lucy Beale and Sandy G. Couvillon. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
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