You know exercise is good for you — but do you know how good? At its most basic, exercise is any type of physical exertion we perform in an effort to improve our health, shape our bodies, and boost performance (Waehner, Web). Adults, men and women, and teens both benefit from exercise and physical activity in many different ways. Exercise should play a key role in everyone’s daily life, not only does it boost self esteem, it also improves mental health and helps prevent depression, heart disease, cardiovascular disease, Type II Diabetes, and, as always, obesity.
Most people agree that even though they may not look forward to doing a workout, they tend to feel better after there done. Finding activities that you enjoy and that become part of your daily routine is the key to a long and healthy life. Exercising helps prevent heart disease, cardiovascular disease, Type II Diabetes, decay of bones, known as osteoporosis, and obesity. According to the American Heart Association, more than 16 million Americans have heart disease (Penninger, Web).
Heart disease occurs when the small vessels in the heart muscle, the coronaries, are not sufficiently supplied with blood, a condition typically caused by arteriosclerosis (Blech 64). Primary risk factors for heart disease include: high blood pressure, obesity, cigarette smoking, diabetes, and high cholesterol. Daily exercise, such as, walking, swimming, and running, has been known to lower blood pressure by keeping the arterial walls distensible and responsive to both diastolic and systolic blood pressure (Marieb and Hoehn 705).
Type II diabetics respond well to exercise by becoming more sensitive to insulin- the hormone that lowers blood pressure. Exercise can also reduce “bad” cholesterol levels in the blood (the low-density lipoprotein [LDL] level), as well as total cholesterol, and can raise the “good” cholesterol (the high-density lipoprotein [HDL] level) (Marieb and Hoehn 943). Exercise burns extra calories, increases metabolic rate (anabolic ally and catabolically), and increases enzymes which leads to weight loss. In addition, high levels of stress have been linked to weight gain.
Whether it’s hitting the gym, swimming a couple laps in your pool, or even taking a brisk walk around your neighborhood, exercise improves mental health and helps prevent depression and anxiety. Exercise is a distraction that can get you away from the cycle of negative thoughts that feed anxiety and depression. When one is active, blood and oxygen flow to the brain are increased, growth factors that help create new nerve cells increase to promote plasticity, and chemicals in the brain increase that help cognition, such as, dopamine, serotonin, and glutamate (Physical Exercise, Web).
As exercise is increased, energy levels and serotonin are increased, which leads to improved mental clarity (Sarnataro, Web). Studies show that exercise boosts activity in the brains frontal lobes and the hippocampus. Doing something positive to manage anxiety or depression is a healthy coping strategy. Trying to feel better by drinking alcohol, dwelling on how badly you feel, or hoping anxiety or depression will go away on their own can lead to worsening symptoms. Self-esteem is defined as the experience of being capable of meeting life’s challenges and being worthy of happiness (Fresh, Web).
Developing healthy self-esteem is a critical component of program aimed at self-improvement. In those who work out in the morning, endorphins, a chemical the pituitary glands produce, are released into your bloodstream, which can lead to a more energized day (Zelam, Web). After a long day at work, stresses and worries can accumulate inside you. Exercise right after work is the perfect natural therapy that can change your mood drastically. Daily exercise may give you the chance to meet or socialize with others.
Just exchanging a friendly smile or greeting as you walk around your neighborhood can help improve your mood. Meeting exercise goals or challenges, even small ones, can boost your self-confidence. Getting in shape can also make you feel better about your appearance. Teens that make exercise and physical activity a habit have a lot going for them, such as, high self-esteem, better grades, and abstinence. Nearly half of American youths aged 12-21 years are not vigorously active on a regular basis (Fitness Benefits for Teens, Web).
Teens who exercise a minimum of 60 minutes a day are less likely to have heart disease, obesity, and osteoporosis as adults. Resistance and strength training exercises in teens is very important because it helps bone production and bone growth, which prevents osteoporosis. Many teens deal with skin problems, such as, acne and early signs of aging. Exercise mediates the production of testosterone-related hormones such as DHEA and DHT. “There‘s a lot of indirect evidence that shows that when you exercise your level of stress diminishes.
So your adrenal glands are producing less of these male-type hormones that are part of any acne flare-up” (Bouchez, Web). Exercise boosts oxygen to the skin; it also helps increase that natural production of collagen, the connective tissue that plumps your skin. Your skin color is also improved after exercise because of the increase blood flow (Fitness Guide, Web). A 2002 study by the National Academy of Health showed teens who did not exercise were five times more likely to engage in overuse of alcohol, drugs, and crime than those who were already committed to a regular schedule of exercise.
Women who regularly participate in physical activity can reduce or improve symptoms of menopause, PMS, diabetes, as well as numerous other conditions. Pregnant women should also engage in exercise. Just 30 minutes of moderate exercise, three times a week, can help balance hormones, lessen morning sickness, prevent or manage gestational diabetes, and ultimately, prepare for labor and delivery. Also, in women, estradiol and progesterone, 2 ovian hormones linked to breast cancer tumor production, are lowered in the body by exercise (Brotherston, Web).
Fat is a catalyst in the production of estrogen. Exercise burns body fat and thus can decrease the rate of estrogen production. Sex plays a key role in exercise for men; the greater the amounts of testosterone circulating in the body, the greater your ability to build muscle, burn body fat, enhance athleticism, and perform like a champion in the bedroom (Stiefel, Print). Sexual function is affected by general health and the more you can do to improve your health with physical activity, the etter your sex life can be. Higher levels of testosterone lead you to wanting more sex. Frequent ejaculation boosts testosterone levels, which works your endocrine system (Stiefel, Print). Researchers from the University of Naples reported that lifestyle modifications, mainly a reduced calorie diet and regular exercise, improve erectile dysfunction in obese men (Bumgardner, Web). Millions of Americans suffer from illnesses that can be prevented or improved through regular physical activity.
Basic knowledge of the anatomic, biochemical, and physiological changes that result from various patterns of physical activity (short and long term, sustained and intermittent, isotonic and isometric, low and high intensity) in persons of different ages is needed, as is a determination of whether a certain minimum-intensity threshold of physical activity is required for benefit (Fletcher and et al. Web). Exercise is the single best thing you can do for your brain in terms of mood, memory, and learning (Kotz, Web). Regular exercise is a critical part of staying healthy. Those who are active live longer and feel better.