A healthy lifestyle is essential for longevity. It means you have to eat properly, and have regular exercise in order to stay healthy. Experts recommend exercising at least three times a week to maintain good health.
A growing body of evidence suggests that regular exercise can help us maintain a healthy weight and decrease the risk of high blood pressure, stroke, Type 2 diabetes, and breast cancer. Even light to moderate activity (20 minutes of walking three times a week) can help reduce blood pressure, lessen the risk of stroke, mitigate chronic pain, and improve heart and lung functions. Heart disease—the leading cause of death in women over the age of 50 and a disproportionate threat to African-American women—can often be reduced and managed through diet and exercise. Sedentary women are twice as likely to die from heart attacks or strokes as women who are active.
Loss of bone mass usually begins around the age of 35, but regular weight-bearing “strength training” exercise can slow this process. One example of strength training is lifting several-pound weights. For women who are not able to use weights, swimming can be a good way to build bone density.
Exercise controls weight
Exercise can help prevent excess weight gain or help maintain weight loss. When you engage in physical activity, you burn calories. The more intense the activity, the more calories you burn.
Regular trips to the gym are great, but don’t worry if you can’t find a large chunk of time to exercise every day. Any amount of activity is better than none at all. To reap the benefits of exercise, just get more active throughout your day — take the stairs instead of the elevator or rev up your household chores. Consistency is key.
Exercise improves mood
Need an emotional lift? Or need to blow off some steam after a stressful day? A gym session or brisk walk can help. Physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals that may leave you feeling happier, more relaxed and less anxious.
You may also feel better about your appearance and yourself when you exercise regularly, which can boost your confidence and improve your self-esteem.
Exercise boosts energy
Winded by grocery shopping or household chores? Regular physical activity can improve your muscle strength and boost your endurance. Exercise delivers oxygen and nutrients to your tissues and helps your cardiovascular system work more efficiently. And when your heart and lung health improve, you have more energy to tackle daily chores.
Exercise promotes better sleep
Struggling to snooze? Regular exercise can help you fall asleep faster, get better sleep and deepen your sleep. Just don’t exercise too close to bedtime, or you may be too energized to go to sleep.
Exercise can be fun … and social!
Exercise and physical activity can be enjoyable. They give you a chance to unwind, enjoy the outdoors or simply engage in activities that make you happy. Physical activity can also help you connect with family or friends in a fun social setting. So take a dance class, hit the hiking trails or join a soccer team. Find a physical activity you enjoy, and just do it. Bored? Try something new, or do something with friends or family.
Exercise improves brain function
Exercise increases blood flow and oxygen levels in the brain. It also encourages the release of the brain chemicals (hormones) that are responsible for the production of cells in the hippocampus, the part of the brain that controls memory and learning.
This, in turn, boosts concentration levels and cognitive ability, and helps reduce the risk of cognitive degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
Exercise enhances your immune system
Exercise improves your body’s ability to pump the oxygen and nutrients around your body that are required to fuel the cells that fight bacteria and viruses.
Exercise combats health conditions and diseases
Worried about heart disease? Hoping to prevent high blood pressure? No matter what your current weight is, being active boosts high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, the “good” cholesterol, and it decreases unhealthy triglycerides. This one-two punch keeps your blood flowing smoothly, which decreases your risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Regular exercise helps prevent or manage many health problems and concerns, including:
- Metabolic syndrome
- High blood pressure
- Type 2 diabetes
- Many types of cancer
It can also help improve cognitive function and helps lower the risk of death from all causes.