Why Exercise?

Nikki Myles

by Nikki Myles | October 12, 2010 @ 04:00PM

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Why exerciseWe all know we should exercise. But today, when we have choices like liposuction and appetite-controlling medications, why is it still so important?

Here are just a few of the ways that exercise improves appearance and well-being -- along with some ways to get started:

Exercise reduces stress and improves moods. Stress can keep the body and mind from relaxing even after the original stressor is gone. If not addressed, stress will eventually result in a kind of physical and emotional fatigue that sleep won't alleviate. But exercise will help to alleviate stress fatigue.

What to do: Take a brisk walk after a difficult day at work. Notice how much more relaxed and invigorated you feel afterwards? Anything that helps circulation (walking, aerobics, etc.) can help you get rid of the negative effects of stress.

Exercise improves appearance. Fat is a storehouse for your body's energy supply. But if you don't get enough exercise, fat simply accumulates. Exercise can also improve your metabolic rate. When your body is accustomed to exercise, it functions naturally at a higher metabolic rate. This increases the calories you burn, even when you're at rest!

Even more importantly, exercise firms and tones muscles. With exercise, we improve the overall contour of the body. It's impossible to reduce fat only in certain areas with exercise, which is why some people opt for liposuction or other surgical techniques. But, exercise is far superior at creating the contours of good, healthy muscle tone – something that liposuction or surgery alone cannot do.

And exercise – along with lots of water – improves circulation as well, and good circulation can do wonders for the complexion!

What to do: Establish a regular regimen of exercise. If you are in good health, you should begin exercising at a slow to moderate pace. And consult your doctor for approval and advice. Start with less strenuous activities such as walking, then bicycling or swimming. As you become fit you can move on to more vigorous activities and/or increase the frequency and intensity of the exercise program. The body will quickly build stamina and strength.

An hour of moderately brisk walking, bicycle riding, or swimming can burn 200 to 300 energy units, or calories. Increasing the intensity of an activity will increase the number of calories you burn. You need to burn approximately 3,500 calories more than you consume to lose 1 pound.

Remember: Movement is what the body is made for! Exercise, even in small amounts, can greatly improve your health. It can change how you look, think, and feel!

Exercise can reduce the risk of disease. Heart disease, diabetes, and osteoporosis are just three kinds of disease that can be prevented or improved by a good exercise regimen. Be sure to consult your physician before beginning an exercise program, especially if you have or have had any injuries, illnesses, or other risk factors.

Heart disease is the number one killer of both women and men in the United States.

What to do: Low to moderate intensity cardio-respiratory exercises such as walking, swimming, bicycling, and hiking can, in many cases, reduce the risk of heart disease by reducing or eliminating some risk factors such as high blood pressure, obesity, and high blood cholesterol.

Diabetes is a disease, which causes increased levels of blood glucose (sugar). Left untreated, diabetes can cause numerous health problems such as heart disease, eye problems, and kidney failure.

What to do: Exercise and a doctor-supervised diet can help regulate blood sugar levels, cholesterol, and increase fat loss, which will decrease the risk of the illness.

Osteoporosis is a disease of the bones characterized by decreased bone mass and increased risk of bone fracture. Resistance training may prevent and treat osteoporosis by stimulating an increase in bone mass. Resistance training usually involves the use of weights when performing exercises, including in some cases, our own body weight.

What to do: Try these exercises, starting slowly, and with an amount of weight you can comfortably lift 12 times.

Leg curl and leg extension exercises using weight machines; upper body exercises making use of dumbbells, lunges, and squats, which use our own body weight for resistance

Convinced? Don't rush out and buy a rowing machine – yet. Slow and steady will win this race. The best way to introduce exercise into your life is by incorporating a little extra effort into the things you already do every day. This will get the heart accustomed to a gradual increase in activity, and prepare you for greater things later on. Trying to do too much too soon not only sets us up for discouragement, it can be dangerous--on the heart and on the body frame. Start gradually and build up. Here are a few great ways to introduce exercise into your daily routine:

Park farther away from the office and walk the extra distance. Use the stairs instead of the escalator or elevator. Even if you're on the 120th floor, you can climb a flight (and then later two, three, and so on) and grab the elevator the rest of the way (Rome wasn't built in a day...do it, but don't overdo it!) Do unobtrusive exercises at your desk. Try stretching. Try raising your feet two inches off the ground and holding, tucking in at the abdomen and buttocks. Start with 10-second holds, lower your feet, and repeat. Don't laugh: it's harder than it sounds if you're not used to it, and no one will be able to tell. Slowly increase the time on the holds, and increase the repetitions. It's good for the gut, but watch the back: keep the abdomen and buttocks tightly tucked. Take walks at lunchtime or at break time.Take the dog for an extra-long walk. Your dog will love it! If you have stairs at home, walk up and down them a couple of extra times.Dance!

Exercise is good for you -- so don't just sit there, do something, and you'll start feeling stronger and healthier. You'll look better, too. Consult your doctor for help in getting started. And begin a simple exercise program today!

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