In the past most people lived in the country that is the rural areas, had a garden, and worked hard physically. Now most people live in the cities, have cars or ride buses, and work at jobs that require little or no exercise. When people come home many use their free time sitting in front of the TV or a home computer. The benefits of an active lifestyle are abundant. Greater vitality, better health, and longer life can be ours through regular, brisk, physical activity. Activity is the law of life. A man who would lie down and refuse to exercise his limbs would, in a short time, lose all power to use them. It is a law of nature that every faculty left unused grows weaker and wastes away. Yet, we find that today, men, women and even children are getting less and less exercise.
What happens when we don’t get enough physical exercise?
A sedentary lifestyle has been shown to significantly decrease our quality of life, while at the same time greatly increasing our likelihood of suffering from today’s degenerative diseases. For example, inactivity is associated with an increased risk of ;
- Heart disease
- Diabetes (adult onset)
- (As well as) Anxiety and depression
Just how much does inactivity increase one’s risk? You’d be surprised . Research has shown that individuals who lack regular exercise experience a similar risk of disease as those who smoke or have extremely high cholesterol levels! Let’s consider the benefits of exercise on the heart and blood circulation.
- Exercise lowers high blood pressure, protecting the heart and blood vessels.
- It improves circulation and thus promotes clearer minds, better sleep and faster recovery from sickness or injury.
- Exercise lowers cholesterol levels, decreasing the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
- Exercise lowers the heart rate at rest. If your normal pulse rate at rest is 80 beats per minute, and by regular exercise it comes down just ten beats to 70, you will spare your heart beating some 5,256,000 times every year.
Put more zest in your life. Look at what exercise can do for your mind.
- Exercise can greatly improve your sense of well-being. It makes you feel good.
- It increases energy, efficiency and endurance, and won’t let you down later.
- Outdoor exercise is one of the most valuable weapons known to fight off depression.
- Exercise enhances our ability to handle life’s stresses. Exercising after work is especially helpful to unwind and leave you more relaxed.
- It improves quality of sleep. Exercise has many other benefits to the body.
Moderate exercise improves appetite control. It helps us attain a desirable weight. Exercise not only burns excess calories, but also speeds up the body’s metabolism for several hours. Did you know that exercise strengthens our bodies’ natural defenses, the immune system, helping to keep us well?
- Exercise lowers insulin requirements and helps stabilize blood sugar levels.It strengthens bones by helping retain and deposit calcium and other minerals.
What kind of exercise provides all of these benefits?
Every one of these benefits can be obtained from plain, simple walking. Walking is the ideal exercise. It’s inexpensive, it’s safe, and nearly everyone can do it. Notice the calories spent for just 30 minutes of each kind of exercise. Fortunately, just about any kind of exercise that we do with some duration and energy is beneficial. Swimming, gardening, walking, biking, and even strenuous chores like chopping wood—all have a rejuvenating effect on the mind and body.
How much exercise do we need?
To experience all the benefits exercise has to offer, many specialists recommend that we:
- Engage in some form of physical exercise nearly every day.
- The total length of time each day should be at least 30 minutes. If we choose, this time can be broken into a couple of segments throughout the day.
Have you ever wondered, “Could it be too late to start?” A recent scientific study was done that included men from age 20 to 82. There were three groups:
- There was a fit group, who already exercised regularly and continued their good habit.
- The unfit group did not have a habit of exercising and did not ever get motivated to start.
- The third group started out as unfit but became involved in regular exercise.
Here are the results found ten years later. As you would expect the fit group had the least number of deaths.
- The unfit group, who didn’t change had, as you could guess, the highest number of deaths—three times more deaths than those who were fit. But now the good news.
- Those who hadn’t been exercising, but did start a simple exercise program ended up having 50% less deaths than those who remained unfit.
- They cut their death rate in half simply by starting regular physical exercise!
Look for opportunities to exercise. Why not try walking to work or school. If it’s far, perhaps you can walk part of the way. Choose the stairs, rather than the elevator. Take up active gardening, swimming or biking. Share your exercise with a friend—it is more fun and often strengthens relationships.