Exercise is essential to optimal health. Period. You can't have optimal health without some form of exercise.
Exercise strengthens your muscles but it also strengthens your heart, bones, ligaments, and tendons. It increases your circulation and promotes new blood vessel growth. I remember a college chemistry professor that was an avid runner. He was an older man but ran frequently. He told me that he had a heart blockage but didn't even know it because he had so much 'collateral circulation'.
Health, as I have defined it, means that we are essentially able to do what we want to be able to do. Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) are the baseline level of function. ADLs are things such as cooking, washing clothes, taking a bath, brushing your teeth, getting up out of the chair, etc. If someone is too weak to do any of these then their health is compromised. Their inability to perform their ADLs means that they will need some type of assistance.
My goal is to be able to do all of my own ADLs until the day I die! If I live to be 110 years old but can't function then what good am I? Exercise can help ensure that we maintain strength and ability to take care of ourselves as we age.
Exercise also increases the breadth of our function. We may be able to do everything we need to do in order to function but not strong enough to run 10 miles or even 1 mile. Who wouldn't want to be able to watch an activity and be able to simply go do it without wondering if we were able? I will never be an NFL football player but I'd like to be strong enough to do it. Obviously, everyone has different goals.
Exercise increases our health and fitness. It helps prevent or treat obesity. This is a big one (no pun intended)! A sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart attacks, stroke, and cancer. Exercise (weight bearing) decreases osteoporosis.
We simply have to exercise in order to be healthy. Sure, there are people who look 'healthy' but never exercise. Are they really healthy?
Any exercise is benificial.
There are different forms of exercise and we need to participate in all of them.
We should participate in activities that develop our entire body. We need to work our cardiovascular & respiratory systems with aerobic exercise. We also need to develop our skeletal system with anaerobic exercise. We need to increase the strength of our bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. We have to push our bodies.
I am a believer in high intensity interval training (HIIT) exercise. Any exercise is good. Exercise with high intensity is better. This is one of the many reasons I like CrossFit. That is not to say you should push through pain - this could be an indicator of a problem and you need to seek medical attention.
I cannot stress the importance of HIIT enough. You will increase your overall health & fitness, strength, cardiovascular system ability, and metabolism more with this type of exercise than with other types of exercise.
Find ways to participate in aerobic and anaerobic exercise and you will see a tremendous difference in your health!
Here are some of the benefits of exercise:
- decreased obesity
- lowers risk for diabetes (type 2), heart attacks, strokes, and some cancers
- decrease risk for disability
- decreased complications during pregnancy for women
- improve your mood
- reduce risk of breast cancer after menopause for women
- improved sex life
- appetite suppression
- cigarette craving suppression
- live longer