Benefits of Exercise
My blog this week is on the five great benefits of exercise. Although there are tons of benefits of exercise I decided to highlight five. I believe I can talk for most people when I say that everyone wants health and happiness. These five exercise benefits show that exercising can help with health and happiness.
- Stress - Exercising promotes well-being (Dubbert 2002). Published investigations indicate that people with higher fitness levels are capable of managing stress more effectively than those with lower fitness levels. An inverse relationship exists here, higher fitness level = associated with lower levels of stress. In an article by Dr. Len Kravitz called the “25 Most Significant Health Benefits of Physical Activity and Exercise” he states, “The research indicates that moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, performed 3 times a week (sessions lasting over 20 minutes) for up to 12 weeks, has the most influence on stress management.”
- Mood State - The CDC states in their Physical Activity and Health article, “Regular physical activity can help keep your thinking, learning, and judgment skills sharp as you age. It can also reduce your risk of depression and may help you sleep better. Research has shown that doing aerobic or a mix of aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities 3 to 5 times a week for 30 to 60 minutes can give you these mental health benefits.”
- Depression - Patients diagnosed with depression have credited exercise as being the most important element in comprehensive treatment programs for depression (Dunn et al. 2002). Cardiovascular and resistance exercise seem to be equally effective in producing anti-depressive effects (Brosse et al. 2002.). Most people “feel good” after working out, signifying that there is a clear antidepressant action due to exercise.
The next two benefits are more obvious benefits of exercise that most people have heard of but I feel it is important to list them. The scary thing is that Americans are clearly not acting on the knowledge that they possess. Being Sedentary accounts for nearly 400,000 deaths per year, yet these deaths are often not highlighted. We all know that being overweight is bad for your health, yet according to phitamerica.com over 68% of the American population is overweight or obese. Shark attacks are highlighted, and movies are even made from these horrific attacks, but only about 4.2 fatal shark attacks happen per year worldwide according to oceana.org. There are more mega million lottery winners than that per year, but everyone is weary of sharks when they enter the ocean. We need to be weary of cardiovascular disease and the diseases associated with being overweight and obese everyday when we wake up because our chances of dying from being sedentary are almost 100,000 times greater than being bitten by a shark. So with all that has been said the number 4 benefit is:
- Cardiovascular Disease - The leading cause of mortality for men and women in the United States is cardiovascular disease (ACSM 2006). Cardiovascular health benefits are obtained through exercise. Higher levels of cardiovascular fitness are associated with a 50% reduction in cardiovascular disease risk in men when doing 20-60 minutes of cardiovascular exercise 3-5 times per week (ACSM 2006). Also Hu and colleagues showed that physically inactive middle-aged women who engage in less than 1 hour of exercise per week doubled their risk of mortality from CVD. Haskell (2003) states, “ not smoking, being physically active, eating a heart-healthy diet, staying reasonably lean and avoiding stress and depression are the major components of an effective cardiovascular prevention program.”
- Body Composition and Obesity - Being overweight or obese increases the risk of hypertension, osteoarthritis, abnormal cholesterol and triglyceride levels, type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, gallbladder disease, sleep apnea, respiratory problems, and cancers (endometrial, breast, and colon). Resistance Training and circuit training research have shown meaningful changes in body composition (Marx et al. 2001). Weight loss is achieved most effectively when cardiovascular exercise is increased up to 200-300 minutes of moderate-intensity activity accumulated over 5-7 days per week (which is equivalent to expending more than or equal to 2,000 Calories per week exercising) (ACSM 2006).
These are only a few of the many benefits that exercise brings into your life. Get out there and get active to start reaping the benefits!
American College of Sports Medicine. 2006. ACSM’s Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription (7th ed.). Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
Brosse, A.L., et al. 2002. Exercise and the treatment of clinical depression in adults: Recent findings and future directions. Sports Medicine, 32 (12), 741–60.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2007a. U.S. physical activity statistics. http://apps.nccd.cdc.gov/PASurveillance/StateSumResultV.aasp; retrieved June 20, 2007.
Dubbert, P.M. 2002. Physical activity and exercise: Recent advances and current challenges. Journal of Consulting Clinical Psychology, 70 (3), 526–36.
Dunn, A.L., et al. 2002. The DOSE study: A clinical trial to examine efficacy and dose response of exercise as treatment for depression. Controlled Clinical Trials, 23 (5), 584–603.
Haskell, W.L. 2003. Cardiovascular disease prevention and lifestyle interventions: Effectiveness and Efficacy. Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing, 18 (4), 245–55.
Marx, J.O., et al. 2001. Low-volume circuit versus high-volume periodized resistance training in women. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 33 (4), 635–43.