Why Exercise?

What are the health benefits of exercising?  Daily exercise at 20-30 minutes will help you…  

1. Improve energy– immediately.

How: exercise delivers oxygen and nutrients through the heart and blood vessels to the muscle and organ tissues (including the brain!)  The increased blood flow stimulates brain chemicals (called endorphins), which are known to leave people feeling more content and energized within minutes after working out.

2. Control weight– burn extra calories.

How: exercise increases the amount of calories needed during the day.  If one vigorously exercises for 20 minutes straight, he or she is burning ~100 calories per 10 minutes.  The recommendations (5x per week for 30 minutes) means that one can burn an extra 1,500 calories per week!  As intensity of exercise increases, the body burns more calories — with a balanced diet, this is the way to increase lean body mass and decrease fat mass.

3. Develop muscular endurance– like an elite athlete.

How: regular exercise training–specifically aerobic training and especially interval training–stimulates the number AND size of mitochondria (organelles inside of your cells that generate a TON of energy).  The mitochondria do all the heavy work to keep the muscles moving.  The increase in mitochondria will enable the muscle to work at its maximal capacity.  The increase in the number AND size of mitochondria can occur in a matter of days to weeks in response to regular aerobic exercise training.

4. Strengthen the heart– get more power.

How: exercise strengthens your heart by allowing it to pump more blood with every beat.  Elite athletes are able to pump 2x more blood during exercise than the average individual.  Increased blood flow allows more oxygen utilization via the lungs–meaning, the heart does not have to pump as hard or as fast to meet exercise demands.  This is why a conditioned athlete usually has a very low resting heart rate (RHR).  A low RHR is 40-60 beats per minute (bpm); an average individual’s RHR is usually 60-80 bpm.

5. Ward off life-threatening diseases– be fit.

How: ultimately, the goal is to stay as healthy as possible for as long as possible.  Exercise is a major culprit in allowing this to happen. Weight-bearing exercises will put pressure on your bones.  Increased pressure to the bone causes “osteoblastic activity,” which simply means more bone cell growth.  Remodeling the bone to achieve peak bone mass will help prevent the risk of osteoporosis, the disease of brittle bones. Exercise will also lower the pressure that blood exerts onto the arterial walls–decreasing the risk of developing hypertension (high blood pressure).  Exercise will increase the good cholesterol and lower the bad by allowing for something called “vasodialation” (widening of blood vessels – which results from increased blood flow)–decreasing the risk of heart disease.  Exercise also increases the ability to utilize glucose more efficiently in the body, preventing the risk of developing diabetes.

Other interesting benefits of exercise have been reviewed previously in the Briefing.

  • How exercise regulates appetite (8/25/10)
  • Exercise improves ability to learn (7/14/10)
  • Short bursts of exercise impact aging (6/07/10)


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