Exercise and physical activity are a great way to feel better, improve your health and have fun.
1. Exercise controls weight
Exercise can help prevent excess weight gain or help maintain weight loss. When you engage in physical activity, you burn calories. The more intense the activity, the more calories you burn. You gain weight when the calories you burn, including those burned during physical activity, are less than the calories you eat or drink.
Regular trips to the gym are great, but don’t worry if you can’t find a large chunk of time to exercise every day. Start trying to add short pockets of exercise into your day, park at the back of the car park or take the stairs instead of the elevator. Use a fitness tracker or pedometer to track your steps and try to increase every week. Consistency is key. Short bursts of activity more regularly does add up!
2. Exercise combats chronic disease
Worried about heart disease? Hoping to prevent high blood pressure? No matter what your current weight, being active boosts high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or “good,” cholesterol and decreases unhealthy triglycerides. Regular exercise also helps prevent or manage a wide range of health problems and concerns, including stroke, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, depression, a number of types of cancer, arthritis and falls.
3. Strengthen Your Bones and Muscles
As you age, it’s important to protect your bones, joints and muscles. Not only do they support your body and help you move, but keeping bones, joints and muscles healthy can help ensure that you’re able to do your daily activities and be physically active. Research shows that doing aerobic, muscle-strengthening and bone-strengthening physical activity of at least a moderately-intense level can slow the loss of bone density that comes with age.
4. Exercise improves mood and mental health
Need an emotional boost? Or need to blow off some steam after a stressful day? Do you have a lot of worries on your mind? A gym session or brisk 30-minute walk can help. Physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals that may leave you feeling happier and more relaxed. You may also feel better about your appearance and yourself when you exercise regularly, which can boost your confidence and improve your self-esteem. Regular physical activity can help keep your thinking, learning, and judgment skills sharp as you age. It can also reduce your risk of depression and anxiety and may help you sleep better.
5. Exercise boosts energy
Winded by household chores or pushing the grocery trolley? Regular physical activity can improve your muscle strength and boost your endurance.
Exercise delivers oxygen and nutrients to your tissues and helps your cardiovascular system work more efficiently. And when your heart and lung health improve, you have more energy to tackle daily activities.
6. Exercise promotes better sleep
Struggling to sleep well? Regular physical activity can help you fall asleep faster and deepen your sleep. Just don’t exercise too close to bedtime, or you may be too energized to drift off to sleep.
7. Exercise puts the spark back into your sex life
Do you feel too tired or too out of shape to enjoy physical intimacy? Regular physical activity can improve energy levels and physical appearance, which may boost your sex life. Regular physical activity may enhance arousal for women. And men who exercise regularly are less likely to have problems with erectile dysfunction than are men who don’t exercise.
8. Exercise can be fun … and social!
Exercise and physical activity can be enjoyable. It gives you a chance to unwind, enjoy the outdoors or simply engage in activities that make you happy. Physical activity can also help you connect with family or friends in a fun social setting. Exercising regularly also helps you become a better role model for your children and other family members that may benefit from your example.
The bottom line is – the health benefits of physical activity far outweigh the risks of getting hurt. Start slowly, cardiac events rarely occur during physical activity. You do need to make sure that you slowly increase your exercise intensity as your fitness improves. Space out your activities during the week and remember if you have a specific goal in mind consult with someone with the expertise to guide you on your journey and offer support, such as a personal trainer, coach or exercise physiologist. If you have a chronic health condition such as arthritis, diabetes, or heart disease, talk with your doctor to find out if your condition limits, in any way, your ability to be active. The good news is that moderate-intensity aerobic activity, like brisk walking, is generally safe for most people.
And for our bariatric patients
After any surgery walking is a great way to boost your physical activity while you’re healing. Usually at your six week mark you will be able to resume any physical activity you choose. Always check with your doctor or clinic nurse if you’re unsure.