The many benefits of regular exercise

Posted on 11/10/2020

Did you know that exercise is one of the most under-utilized tools for managing many aspects of your health? It is well known that exercise can help with weight loss by boosting your metabolism and burning calories, but there are so many more benefits, especially as we age.

Individuals naturally lose bone density and muscle mass as they age. Studies show that after the age of 50, bone breakdown occurs more than bone strength. Women particularly see an acceleration in bone loss around menopause, which puts them at a higher risk for osteoporosis. While there are supplements to help with this, regular weight-bearing exercise reduces the risk for osteoporosis.

At age 30, we naturally begin to lose muscle mass; physically inactive individuals can lose between three-to-five percent muscle mass each decade after 30. These factors lead to an increase in frailty, which in turn increases the likelihood of falls and fractures. The good news is that you can offset these problematic changes by sticking to a regular exercise program.
Here are some other great and important benefits of regular exercise:

  • Exercise helps to reduce the risk of chronic disease. According to The National Institute of Health, lack of regular exercise is the primary cause of chronic disease in the United States. Getting into a fitness routine can increase insulin sensitivity, which in decreases blood sugar, blood pressure, fat levels in blood and cholesterol. It also improves cardiovascular health.
  • Do you have a high stress job? Do you easily allow anxiety to interfere with life? Regular exercise can help with that. Exercise triggers your brain to release endorphins in your body which are mood enhancers and natural pain killers. They create a feeling of well-being. Along with being a mood enhancer, exercise also helps to increase energy levels. Exercise has been shown to begin to help elevate moods in as little as 10 minutes into the activity.
  • Improving brain health and memory. Exercise increases your heart rate, blood flow and oxygen to your brain. According to a study by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, regular aerobic exercise increases the size of the hippocampus, the part of your brain that is involved in verbal memory and learning. Exercise also stimulates the release of growth factors chemicals in the brain that affect brain cell health, the growth of new blood vessels in the brain and even the survival of brain cells. Reduce your risk factors by beginning an exercise program today.

You don’t need to exercise for hours at a time to see results in your general well-being. By setting aside 30 to 45 minutes most days of the week for moderate physical activity (brisk walking, swimming, strength training), you can reap the rewards of enhanced health and wellness.

Now that you are aware of all of the great benefits from regular exercise, why not jump in? You don’t have to be a seasoned athlete to exercise. If you are nervous about beginning a program, a physical therapist is a great resource to help design a safe and effective program for you. Physical therapists are movement specialists who are more than qualified to set up an appropriate program to fit your needs.

In most states, you can choose to see a physical therapist without a referral from a physician. If you do need a referral, most primary care doctors will gladly provide you with a prescription for physical therapy so that you can begin your journey to a better, healthier you.

Make time for your wellness before you are forced to make time for your illness. Your physical therapist can help.

By: Colony A. Hopkins, P.T., DPT, COMT, AIB - VR/CON. Colony is a physical therapist with NovaCare Rehabilitation in Uniontown, Pennsylvania.

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