Exercise… its not just for weight loss!

So, you’ve been exercising for about a month. Maybe walking 5 days a week, or going to the gym and working out, but you haven’t lost a &*&^% pound! I mean what’s the use? Why put in all this work if you’re not going to look like a bikini model right?! Well the dirty little secret is that diet is really the key to weight loss, and I think eating right is way harder than exercising or being active, because exercise makes you feel good, but so does chocolate cake.  But all of your hard work is not in vain. Exercise has many benefits for your body and mind. If you want to live for ever, well, exercise better top your list of strategies.

Benefits of  Exercise

The ACSM recommends 150 minutes of moderate cardiovascular exercise a week for health benefits. The good news is that increments of as little as 10 minutes at a time still carry these benefits. If you are exercising 150 minutes a week, these are some of the awesome things that may happen to your body.

  • your resting heart rate may decrease. This means that your heart doesn’t have to work as hard.
  • your resting blood pressure may decrease. High blood pressure increases your risks of all kinds of nasty things like, heart attack, stroke and kidney disease.
  • your triglycerides may go down (this is good) and your good cholesterol may go up (this is also good) This also reduces your risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • improved glucose tolerance, this means your body handles sugar better and lowers your risk of type 2 diabetes
  • decreased anxiety and depression. Exercise can stimulate the release of “feel good” chemicals in your brain, and who doesn’t like to feel good?!

What about weights?

Well, I love resistance training. There is nothing like lifting and moving heavy things, including your own body to make you feel powerful and confident. Also training specific muscle groups is beneficial in my opinion. In reality our bodies are very lazy, if you have a weak muscle, your body will do everything it can to compensate for it instead of using it, so full body resistance training done right, forces your body to use each muscle or muscle group instead of avoiding the weak ones. And yes even avid exercisers can have weaknesses. In fact those weaknesses are usually what contribute to injuries. What are other benefits of resistance training?

  • decreased risk of osteoporosis and slowing of bone loss  in those who already have osteoperosis
  • improved strength…. this is a big one, it lowers your risk of injury, improves your ability to perform daily tasks and decreases your risk of falls!
  • improves sleep patterns
  • and improves mobility and balance

I have worked with older adults for 20 years and my view on the importance of exercise has changed over the years. When I was young it was all about how I looked but I have seen the difference regular exercise makes as we age. It can mean the difference between spending your retirement years going to bingo and coffee with friends or a going to a multitude of doctors appointments or hospitalizations. Exercises is indeed medicine for our bodies, and we don’t have to pay a thing for it.

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