From Minutes to Years, Exercise Helps

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Photo: Courtesy of Federico Stevanin

We all know exercise is good for you, but did you know you can start reaping the benefits within just minutes? Fitness Magazine published an article pointing out the pros of exercising from the minute you start to years after. Immediately, your body is going to start changing as you exercise, but as you continue your regimen your benefits build up. Check out the article yourself to get some great tips or continue to read on for some of the not so obvious advantages.

From the time you press START, your lungs are getting stronger, you are burning fat and increasing your motivation. Your lungs have to work extra hard to get enough oxygen to the muscles being used in the rest of your body, thus strengthening them as well. Fat is being used as your body’s main source of energy, helping to reduce flab, and signals are sent to your brain releasing endorphins that up your motivation to go the extra mile. Within an hour, you have lowered stress hormones (such as cortisol), which can lead to a suppressed immune system if too high, and you have increased your metabolism. “For ever 100 calories you burn while exercising, you burn an extra 15 calories after” according to Fitness, and you keep burning up to 38 hours after!

The day after you hit the gym you are building lean muscle mass as muscles begin repairing the microscopic tears you caused during your workout. It might be a good idea to sneak in a sweat session before your next doctor’s appointment or UNH Healthy Returns because exercising also decreases your blood pressure, increasing your heart health. Exercising can lower your blood pressure for up to 16 hours as well as lower your LDL or “bad” cholesterol levels. Along with helping your muscles and heart, post exercise benefits your brain too! You are more focused and alert due to the increased oxygen flow to your brain so hit the books after the gym, “it’s a great time to memorize a speech or tackle a project”.

Within a week of regular exercise you’re still feeling the benefits. Exercise increases your insulin resistance, lowering your blood glucose levels and decreasing your chances of getting Type 2 Diabetes. You can also drop one pound a week! 3,500 calories equals a pound, so burning an extra 500 a day, or even 250, if you cut another 250 from your diet can help you lower the number on the scale. In a few more weeks your body will show even more improvements as you get stronger and stronger. Start off lifting five pounds and find them getting less and less heavy? You’re building endurance and strength with each workout so increase the weight when you think it is getting too easy. You should be fatigued after 12-15 repetitions. If that’s too easy you can probably add a couple of pounds. As you are gaining muscle you are losing fat, especially abdominal flab, which has been linked to increased health consequences. Not only are your muscles getting stronger, so is your brain. Exercise has also been believed to activate “growth-stimulating proteins in the brain that may help form new cells." In the long run, exercise can increase your endurance, make you more efficient at fighting fat, reduce your risk for cancer, add years to your life, and improve how you feel. Just four months of exercise can improve mood and work just as well as some anti-depressant medications can. It can also decrease the need for blood pressure and cholesterol-lowering medications. Working out strengthens the telomeres on your DNA, slowing the overall aging process.

Still need a reason to exercise?! With all these amazing benefits, working out should become a priority in everyone’s lives. If it’s not a priority for you, make it one!

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