You already know how exercise makes you look and feel, but have you ever thought about the problems it prevents? Exercise not only promotes longevity, but it may be your best defense against some health conditions. Read on, and find out what diseases a regular workout protects you against.
Benefits of Exercise: It Protects Against Stroke and Heart Disease
Exercise protects against heart disease and stroke in several ways. Working out regularly makes it easier for blood vessels to dilate in response to blood flow, which helps to lower the risk of coronary artery disease. Regular aerobic exercise also lowers blood pressure, a risk factor for both stroke and heart disease. In addition, it raises levels of HDL, the good form of cholesterol that removes cholesterol from the walls of arteries and sends it back to the liver. It also increases the amount of blood your heart can pump with each beat, allowing your heart to work more efficiently.
Type 2 Diabetes
There’s an epidemic of type 2 diabetes in this country. Type 2 diabetes was once a disease of middle-aged and older people, but kids and teens are now getting it too. A regular exercise program protects against type 2 diabetes by increasing insulin sensitivity, so your pancreas doesn’t have to pump out as much insulin. It also protects against diabetes by lowering the risk of obesity. Low levels of activity and obesity are the main reasons we’re seeing more type 2 diabetes.
Osteoporosis is another common disease that exercise helps to prevent. High-impact exercises like running, jumping rope and resistance training puts enough stress on bones to build bone mass. Combine that with a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D, and you have a natural prescription for healthier bones.
Research shows that exercise reduces the risk of some types of cancer including breast and colon cancer. It’s not clear how exercise prevents colon cancer, but research shows that people who exercise have a 40% lower risk of developing the disease. One way it reduces the risk of breast cancer is by lowering levels of hormones like estrogen that boost the growth of breast cells. When it comes to warding off cancer, vigorous exercise is better than a leisurely stroll.
Exercise even has benefits for the brain. Research shows that vigorous but not light exercise protects against Parkinson’s disease and reduces the risk of dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease. People who work out regularly also score higher on mental agility tests. Exercise improves mental health too – by lowering anxiety levels and keeping the “blues” at bay. Exercise stimulates the release of “feel good” molecules called endorphins and has a positive impact on neurotransmitters in the brain that affect mood.
Other Benefits of Exercise
Moderate amounts of exercise also boost your immune system and help to ward off colds and flu viruses, but don’t overdo it. Overtraining can weaken your immune system. Now you know why it’s important to lace up your exercise shoes. Working out gives you self-confidence and makes you look great, but its benefits go beyond beauty. It has lots of benefits you can’t see when you look in the mirror.
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