The benefits of exercise are myriad. It makes you feel good about yourself, burns excess body fat, grows and maintains muscle, strengthens bones and joints, helps flexibility, deepens sleep, improves appearance, creates a high, provides goals to achieve, lifts depression, relieves stress, increases self esteem, reverses and prevents disease and helps you feel alive and youthful… that is, if you do it right.
Exercise would be as normal as breathing in the wild setting. If we were not industriously finding food, building shelters and fighting off saber-toothed tigers we would not survive. Under those circumstances eating was the reward for exercise. In the modern world we dont have to exercise to any extent to get our food. We may have cleverly changed our circumstances but we have not changed the rule that eating is the fuel and the reward for exercise. If you are not exercising you should not be eating or at least doing very little of it. This is a natural law rarely quoted these days. Ignoring and violating it results in a penalty, obesity and disease.
But today, when essentially all of our needs are met at arms length, being sedentary is normal. Getting rewards for physically doing nothing is also possible. So the decision has to be made to exercise. Why do it? Because it is what your body is designed for and health cannot result without it.
Exercise can take many forms. There are four categories: work related, aerobic, strength and sport. Work-related exercise can burn calories and bring benefits if it is not extreme and relentless. The same motions and impacts done over and over, day after day, can actually tear the body down over time and result in work-related injury. Carpel tunnel syndrome from merely typing day after day at a keyboard is a good example. Be careful of excessive and repeated monotonous activity. Additionally, the body adapts to the same movements and will not improve unless there is added stress. For full benefit, other full- body exercise is important even if you have an active job.
The other three forms of exercise take conscious effort. Aerobics running, cycling, swimming, fast walking, rapid weight lifting helps stimulate metabolism and increase respiratory and circulatory strength, as well as endurance. Strength traininglifting weights or the likemaintains or grows strength, improves physical appearance and increases bone density reducing the risk of osteoporosis and fracture. Athletic sport can combine aerobics, strength, speed and flexibility. The ideal is a sport you can prepare for by using aerobics and strength training. Improvement goals in the sport help motivate and focus on fitness goals.
Like anything else in life that is worthwhile, exercise benefits take effort. It may mean some sweat, soreness, fatigue and even an occasional injury. In fact, if you never experience an injury or soreness, there is a good chance you do not have enough intensity, and will not get results either. “No pain, no gain” is pretty true.