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Why Is Exercise Good for You?

Exercise is good for you

photo by mikebaird


There’s a saying, “Use it or lose it.” That’s pretty much why exercise is good for you. But that’s just the short answer. The details of what actually happens in your body are truly amazing and, I think, super motivating. Here’s the the rest of the story you won’t want to miss!

[This article is going to motivate you to exercise more. So here’s the obligatory, but important, cautionary note. If you are going to start an exercise program, you should have the OK from your doctor first to make sure that you don’t have any potential heart or other health issues.]


How Exercise Makes You Stronger and Healthier


The very first day that you start your exercise program, you will be healthier than you were yesterday. Why? Because your body immediately responds to the exercise by building new cells and tissues to support that exercise. It gets ready to better handle the exercise you will do tomorrow. Isn’t that amazing!?

There are several marvelous ways that your body changes when you begin a consistent aerobic exercise program. All of the improvements your body makes increases your VO2 Max, which is a measurement of of your fitness level. Specifically, VO2 Max measures the volume of oxygen a person can consume in one minute exercising at maximum exertion.

Here are the incredible changes you’ll see in your body:

Heart

When you train over a period of time your heart will grow in size, allowing it to pump a larger volume of blood with each stroke (or pump). This allows more oxygen to be delivered to all the cells in your body. At the same time, your heart also becomes stronger and more efficient at pumping blood.

Blood Vessels

In response to your muscles needing more oxygen, your body will grow more capillaries to deliver more oxygen faster going forward. Isn’t that cool?! In addition, over time, regular exercise will make your blood vessels become more flexible allowing them to deliver more oxygen rich blood more efficiently. And if that wasn’t enough, the increased blood flow in your blood vessels serves to clean out excess cholesterol, keeping you free of clogs which can cause strokes and heart attacks.

Red Blood Cells

As you exercise each day, your body says, “OK, I get it. You need more oxygen. Alright, turn up the red blood cell production!” As your red blood cell count increases so does your ability to receive more oxygen more efficiently.

Cellular Level

This improvement is very cool too. In each of the cells in your body there are these little power machines called mitochondria. What they do is produce energy by combining oxygen and glucose (or other fuel molecules). This combination produces ATP which is the molecule that gives your cells the energy they need to do their cellular work. When you exercise regularly, guess what happens? Yup, your body creates more and stronger mitochondria in each of your cells, making you more powerful and giving you more endurance for everything in your life! Wow! How exciting is that!?

Muscles

When you use your muscles beyond what they can handle, either through aerobic exercise or weight bearing exercise, it causes your body to build new muscle tissue. Tiny tears can occur with weight lifting, and when these tears are repaired, this is what causes the muscle to become larger and more defined. Larger, stronger muscles will raise your metabolism making weight management easier.

Your VO2 Max


If you want to test your VO2 max, a simple way to do this is to perform the Rockport Walking Fitness Test. It is well regarded as an accurate way to measure your VO2 max. If you can’t get your heart rate above 120 with fast walking, here is a similar jogging test. (Again these tests should only be done with your doctor’s approval.)

What Kind of Exercise is Best?


The best kind of exercise is the kind you do everyday for 30 minutes, whether consecutive minutes or broken up throughout the day. You should aim for a target heart rate of 55-85% of your max heart rate. Here’s the formula to calculate your maximum heart rate:

Maximum heart rate = 208 – (0.7 X your age in years)

Example: If you are 40 years old, then your maximum heart rate = 208 -(0.7 X 40)= 180.
Moderate activity level would be between 99 – 126 beats per minute.
Strenuous activity level would be between 126 – 153 beats per minute.

So it doesn’t matter if you walk or run, bike or swim, play tennis or rake the yard. As long as you do it everyday and get your heart pumping you will make yourself healthier every day. The only advantage that running has over walking is that you can burn more calories in a shorter period of time. But, the advantage of brisk walking is that it is easier on your joints than running. So just choose whichever activity you like better, and go for it!

Another thing to keep in mind is that you have to stop in the middle of your exercise, don’t fret. As long as you finish it later, it’s fine. You can do 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the evening. Everyone has time for that right?

My soon to be released book on healthy living will have more information on healthy exercise. In the meantime, all you need is a pair of sneakers and you’re good to go. Vary your exercise every so often for a new muscular challenge and also for fun. Here are some other aerobic activities you can try:

  • biking
  • cross country skiing
  • swimming
  • tennis
  • strenuous yoga
  • squash
  • hiking
  • kayaking
  • golfing
  • soccer
  • jumping (jump-rope or mini-trampoline)
  • dancing


Additional Exercise Resources


For more information on how exercise improves your fitness level visit Nova/Marathon Challenge.

For more information on how to incorporate exercise into your life without breaking your schedule or too much sweat, check out this excellent book by Harvey B. Simon M.D., associate professor of medicine, Havard Medical School:


Please Share!

What say you? Any exercise testimonials out there? All comments big and small are very welcomed!

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59 Responses to Why Is Exercise Good for You?

  1. Yoga Equipment September 1, 2008 at 10:08 am #

    I would also like to share this idea with my gf and i hope this one is very useful.

  2. eurosoccer September 24, 2008 at 11:44 am #

    Makes you feel better, sleep better and it’s fun too 🙂

  3. Diego November 14, 2008 at 6:54 am #

    Great Post! I exercise 5 times a week for about 1-2 hours. I started 7 years ago when I bought a bike, I started to notice huge differences in the way I was feeling before, more energy, better reflexes, and lost some weight.

    Today I’m training 5 times a week doing some riding, jogging, weights, plyometrics, core stability exercises.

    I dont see myself ever stopping and not because of all the benifits but mostly because it is fun!.

    Make sure you have plenty of variety when it comes to exercise and try and cover all fitness components (cardio, weights,cardio endurance, muscle endurance, flexibility etc..) at least once a week.

  4. Eye Disease - Macular Degeneration March 3, 2009 at 8:58 am #

    Great info! Exercise also helps reduce the risk of macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in seniors.

    Thanks for sharing your great information.

  5. healthnut83 May 14, 2009 at 9:35 am #

    Have you watch this video? It’s an instructional work out video where dance and martial arts are combined. Watch and learn easy to perform lower body exercises by watching this video.
    http://www.female-workout.com/female-workout/power-booty-and-lower-body-moves-video

    • agentsully May 15, 2009 at 11:16 am #

      @healthnut83 – the video doesn’t seem to work.

  6. Century Program Trainer June 1, 2009 at 12:15 pm #

    great article.

    the best point you made was that you actually only get fitter when your body rebuilds tissues after exercise.

    exercising damages us and rest/recovery is where we get stronger. once you know and understand this then you can work out how to maximize the work and rest to get the best benefit.

    this is where most people get it wrong. i see so many cyclists going out riding hundreds of miles a week and wonder why they are not improving.

    incidentally cycling is great as there is no impact (unlike running etc) and it’s relative low intensity helps you burn fat not carbs so it can help with weight loss too!

    • agentsully June 6, 2009 at 11:13 am #

      @Century Program Trainer – Thank you for the kind words. I found this information fascinating myself and that’s why I wrote about it. Our bodies are meant to be used. There’s nothing more true than “use it or lose it!” 🙂 Cheers and good luck with your cycling and your site!

  7. Neck Exercises October 19, 2009 at 2:37 pm #

    Great article. Exercises also makes your heart pump more blood at a lower heart rate when you are healthy. Exercise also trains the heart muscle to pump more efficiently.

  8. Mizcash December 1, 2009 at 3:52 am #

    Education is motivation towards the road to healthy living. It is so important to understand what happens to the body when we exercise…..just amazing.

  9. masan February 19, 2010 at 11:30 am #

    wow,,thanks, good article.. tomorrow morning I have to wake up early & start to exercise,,,

  10. Jill - Fitness Equipment September 3, 2010 at 12:35 am #

    I do M-W-F 6k runs and since then I felt so much improvement in my body and even in my outlook in life. Having a healthy body really makes a big difference.

  11. lou May 3, 2011 at 1:45 pm #

    I have a question to ask. what exercise is good for a person who is disable and can walk on for a few feet before being out of breath and hurting in the lower back?
    I do have copd and is on oxygen and I am not able to walk very long or do anything that is stressful but would like to get in better health than I am. i am only in my 50’s right now.

    • AgentSully August 14, 2011 at 6:13 pm #

      Hi Lou – thanks for your question. I would say in your situation to definitely work with your doctor on an exercise plan given your copd. Beyond that some ideas would be light dancing in place – simple movement to music. You could also try walking in place or light stretching to get started. Let us know how that goes for you.

  12. Brady April 23, 2012 at 9:58 am #

    I must say, this is a very inspriational page! I am doing a research paper about “Why Is Fitness Important?”, and reading your stories will help me greatly! Also reading all of the infor from the post above has been great as well!

    Brady

    • AgentSully May 12, 2012 at 2:43 pm #

      Thanks Brady!!! Glad to help. How did it turn out? What kind of exercise do you like?

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