Reasons to Exercise – OTHER than weight loss
(article originally published Jan. 2018; updated 4-03-2022)
I had the pleasure of catching up with a friend over the holidays. She’s a slender woman in her 60’s who has always been very physically active (running, biking, treadmill, etc.). But she mentioned that she is no longer motivated to exercise because she really doesn’t need to lose any weight.
I can certainly relate to losing the motivation to exercise from time to time. But as I later reflected on her comments, I made a list of reasons to exercise (OTHER THAN WEIGHT LOSS) that will be good reminders for all of us and help keep our motivation strong.
So here goes……
Aerobic Exercise (such as brisk walking, running, dancing, step aerobics, tennis, elliptical trainer) gets your heart pumping. Doing so improves your cardiac fitness by strengthening the heart and lungs.
Aerobics also reduces your cancer risk, lowers your blood sugar, can help lower cholesterol, improves immune function, widens the arteries to carry away waste products, lowers the heart rate and lowers the risk of Type 2 Diabetes and stroke.
Plus, the increased vascular benefits also protect your brain from cognitive decline!
Resistance Exercise (weight lifting, using a stretch band, push ups, sit-ups, lunges, body squats) builds muscles. When it comes to muscles, we either use it or lose it. We’re not talking about becoming another Arnold…..you can merely use your own body weight to create the resistance needed to strengthen your muscles.
The benefits include increased muscle mass which helps prevent frailty and reduces the risk of falling. Resistance exercise also improves bone density, reduces the risk of age-related sarcopenia (muscle atrophy), improves posture and decreases arthritic pain.
Yoga, Pilates, and stretching are great ways to prevent injuries and back pain, reduce muscle soreness, improve balance, and increase your freedom of movement.
Flexibility exercises enable you to easily accomplish those daily tasks of reaching, bending and stooping. Stretching also increases the blood flow to the muscles.
One more exercise we shouldn’t overlook:
BRAIN exercise. Give your brain a workout with mental exercises which optimize brain connectivity, help grow new neurons and prevent memory loss.
Our brains want to learn and be active! Word games, puzzles, Sudoku are all great options, as well as taking a class, learning a new language, drawing maps from memory, or joining a choir. Some experts suggest that real-world activities are better than the on-line brain training software.
Even when we eliminate weight loss from the list, you can see that the long list of reasons to exercise is still incredibly convincing! In addition to all of the above, we’re in a better mood (endorphin release), we have a boosted metabolism, a much lower risk of many diseases, we handle stress better, have more energy, sleep better and live longer! What’s not to love?
Depending on the intensity of your workouts, the suggested time to spend exercising varies from 30 minutes a day to 180 minutes a week. I like the 180 minutes a week idea. That way I can do three one-hour sessions, or four 45-minute session.
The best exercise to do…...is the one you’ll actually do! So schedule it in your planner and make it a regular routine.
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