If there is a threat to our health today, it’s the sedentary lifestyles we lead. We work, game, or binge-watch shows for hours on end. Our priority has shifted from finding available gyms for exercise to buying ergonomic chairs that will hold our weight. According to a report by the World Health Organization, 60 – 80% of people around the world lead sedentary lives. That was in 2002. It’s highly likely that those numbers have shot up by now.
Physical inactivity may seem harmless but it puts you at risk of injury, stress, developing chronic illnesses, and aging prematurely. So today, we’re going to look at the top 10 reasons you need to get off that chair and start exercising.
1. Helps Control Weight
One of the biggest disadvantages of a sedentary lifestyle is weight addition. With every meal, our body stores fat in our muscles. Since the fat isn’t getting burned down, it piles, and in time you notice you can’t react as fast, move as fast, or tire easily Exercising burns calories, ensuring you lose weight or maintain moderate weight. The more intense the exercise, the more calories you burn. If you can’t make it to the gym, physical activities such as brisk walking, jogging, hiking, or house chores can get the job done. You only need to be consistent.
2. Boosts Brain Power
Exercising is as good for your body as it is for your mind. Research shows that physical exercise stimulates neuroplasticity (ability to adapt, grow, and change). This allows your brain to alter existing connections and form new neural pathways, which makes for improved clarity and better productivity. Rather than sit at your desk for eight to 15 hours straight, take a break to exercise, and come back feeling more productive. Any exercise that’s good for your heart is also good for your brain, however, aerobic exercises come highly recommended.
3. Improves Bone Health
Regular exercise causes your bones to adapt by building even more bone, becoming denser. It keeps bones from weakening because of age, medication, or diseases like osteoporosis, a condition that affects both men and women. Osteoporosis causes bone thinning, putting older people at risk of injury and limiting their mobility and independence. That’s why experts recommend working out when you’re younger to help maintain bone strength as you get older. Weight-bearing and strength training exercises are particularly good for building bone density. You can walk, jog/run, dance, skip rope, climb stairs, play tennis, or use free weights. If you’ve already been diagnosed with a bone-thinning disease, talk to your doctor first, to know the safest physical activity to engage in.
4. Relieves Day-to-Day Stress
Working out has serious stress-busting benefits. By imitating fight-or-flight responses and other effects of stress, exercising helps your body systems practice working in unison through these effects. Your body learns to protect itself (immune, cardiovascular, and digestive systems) against the harmful effects of stress. Exercise also floods your system with endorphins, the feel-good hormones that stimulate feelings of well-being. You’ll feel calmer and relaxed after exercising. Exercises that help curb stress include aerobics, HIIT workouts, swimming, jogging/running, dancing, and cycling.
5. Boosts Your Sex Life
Your body releases a cocktail of hormones when you exercise including adrenaline, endorphins, and testosterone. Testosterone is as much responsible for muscle development as it is sexual arousal. Exercise increases blood flow to sexual (both male and female) organs, makes you feel good, and gives you a better all-round body image. These factors push up your sex drive. If your current sedentary lifestyle leaves you feeling tired and out of shape, exercising in any form will improve your libido. Men who work out regularly are at a lower risk of developing erectile dysfunction compared to those that don’t. Exercises that help boost libido and your overall sexual health include strength training (weights, push-ups, planks, etc), kegel exercises, brisk walking, and swimming.
6. Helps Ward Off Disease
Although studies are still ongoing, initial results show physical activities may help extrude bacteria and viruses from your lungs and airways. This minimizes your chances of catching colds, the flu, or other diseases. Similarly, exercises cause white blood cells to circulate rapidly allowing them to detect illnesses faster, and ward them off. Since exercising strengthens your heart, it improves circulation and increases oxygen levels within your body. This lowers the risk of heart-related issues. Further, exercising helps ward off Type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome. If you’re living with any of these conditions, physical activity can help you manage them. Even following a moderately energetic lifestyle can help keep you healthy. You can cycle, brisk walk, hit the gym, play golf, or take an aerobics class.
7. Promotes Better Sleep
Do you struggle to fall asleep, feel overly sleepy during the day, or don’t enjoy quality sleep? Studies show that working out in the gym or regular exercise can help you snooze faster. It helps decompress the mind and stabilize your mood, which is crucial for you to transition naturally to sleep. Resting well means you’ll wake up feeling refreshed and ready for the day. Does the actual exercise matter? While vigorous exercise is ideal for improved sleep quality and mood, people who engage in moderate exercising can also experience better sleep. Best exercise options include running on the treadmill, brisk walking, and strength training among others. Avoid exercising too close to bedtime as the rush of energy may keep you from falling asleep.
8. Boosts Your Sense of Confidence and Motivation
Exercise involves setting and achieving goals. When you make that choice to get up and exercise rather than stay in bed, you’re already winning. As you graduate from one milestone to another, it gives you a sense of accomplishment and makes you feel better mentally. You’ll have the energy and motivation to take on challenges or meet new people. Regular exercising makes your body feel firmer and over time you’ll start seeing the results. Your self-image, confidence, and esteem will improve. Aerobics is an excellent way to get into shape, as will any other exercise that allows you to move your body.
9. Can Prevent Falls in Older People
The World Health Organization states that adults over 60 years are susceptible to fatal falls. Other than a fatality, falls are a leading cause of morbidity and disability in older people. There are many causes of falling including increasing age, declining fitness, and medication. As people fail to engage in physical fitness activities regularly, they suffer decreased bone mass, flexibility, reduced muscle strength, and loss of balance. Regular exercise keeps your muscles flexible and improves balance. Try exercising for 150 minutes every week but check with your doctor first to ensure you perform the right exercises.
10. Slows the Aging Process
Research shows that exercise can indeed reverse damage caused by a sedentary lifestyle, slowing down aging hearts, bodies, and minds. As you work out, the sweat produced clears impurities from your skin, keeping it elastic, glowing, and healthy even at old age. Each chromosome in our bodies contains telomeres that control our cells’ aging process. As these telomeres shorten, the cells age, and we age. We literally age at cellular level. Regular exercising slows down the rate at which these telomeres shorten, keeping your cells alive longer. Not only will you feel younger, but you’ll also be younger physically. Exercises also help keep your metabolism high and steady, which in turn, keeps your body leaner and looking younger.