Exercise is any movement that involves the working of muscles, and helps one’s body to burn calories. Exercise can be low, moderate or high impact; and can include activities such as swimming, jogging, golf, cardio aerobics, low-impact aerobics, walking, dancing, yoga, weight training, riding bicycles, basketball, gymnastics, soccer, or skating.
Benefits of Exercise
- Regular exercise stimulates chemicals in the brain which can cause one to feel happier, relaxed, in a better mood, and reduces feelings of anxiety and depression.
- Exercise increases the metabolic rate, which will burn more calories leading to weight loss. Combining aerobic exercise with resistance training can maximize fat loss and muscle mass maintenance.
- Exercise helps to build strong muscles and bones, and prevents osteoporosis.
- Exercise can increase energy levels. It can enhance one’s muscle strength, boosts energy and endurance for healthy people, and can significantly increase energy levels for those with chronic fatigue syndrome and other serious illnesses.
- Exercise can improve the appearance of the skin. Moderate levels of exercise done regularly can increase the body’s production of natural antioxidants which protects cells, and increases blood flow. This results in the protection of the skin and delayed signs of aging.
- Regular exercise stimulates the body to release proteins and chemicals that improve the structure and brain function. The increased blood flow to the brain improves brain function and health, and memory. It has been reported that exercise can reduce changes in the brain that cause Alzheimer’s and schizophrenia.
- Regular exercise can promote relaxation, decrease insomnia, and improve the quality of sleep. Exercise near bedtime is not recommended. This will help to avoid being too energized to fall asleep.
- Exercise can reduce the risk of heart diseases; it strengthens the heart and improves circulation. The increased blood flow raises the oxygen levels in the body. This helps lower the risk of heart diseases such as high cholesterol, coronary artery disease, and heart attack. Regular exercise can also lower blood pressure and triglyceride levels.
- Exercise can help the body manage blood sugar and insulin levels by lowering the blood sugar level and helping the insulin to work better. This decreases the risk and manages the symptoms for metabolic syndrome and Type 2 diabetes.
- Exercise may decrease cravings, withdrawal symptoms, and weight gain associated with smoking cessation.
- Exercise can help to reduce chronic pain and improve the quality of life.
Exercise can prevent and manage health problems including:
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Type 2 diabetes
- Some forms of cancer
A small amount of exercise is better than none at all. In addition to structured exercise, remaining active throughout the day is beneficial; taking the stairs rather than the elevator, parking further away from an entrance to increase the amount of walking.
The Department of Health and Human Services recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) to 300 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) per week of moderate-intensity activity; or 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) to 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity. Aerobic exercise should be spread throughout the week.
Strength training exercises for all major muscle groups are recommended at least two times a week. Examples include lifting free weights, using weight machines, or doing body-weight training.
It is recommended that patients not overexert themselves, and any exercise program should be discussed with the patient’s health care provider.