You have probably heard that exercise is good for your health, but did you know that it can actually help to heal your body? Understanding the value of exercise is more important than ever since our nation is in the midst of an "inactivity epidemic." This inactivity is the fourth leading cause of death nationwide and is responsible for 3.2 million deaths each year. The financial cost is also enormous-;the medical repercussions of inactivity result in 102 billion dollars of US healthcare expenditures annually.
Risks of Inactivity
If you are one of the 56 percent of American adults who do not meet the recommendations for sufficient physical activity, you are putting yourself at an increased risk for a variety of serious and potentially life-threatening health issues such as obesity, diabetes and cancer. "Believe it or not, it is actually better to be physically fit and overweight than unfit with a lower percentage of body fat. This, coupled with that fact that one third of all cancers may be fat related, and therefore preventable, means that all of us should be making an effort to increase our physical activity," explains Don Tomaszewski, M.S., ATC/L, Director, Sports Institute/Medical Fitness/Outpatient Rehabilitation Medicine, The Valley Hospital.
Benefits of Exercise
No matter one's age, when combined with a commitment to healthy eating, regular physical activity can provide a wealth of health benefits. Exercise is an essential tool that contributes to managing weight, building lean muscle, reducing fat, strengthening bones and joints, and lowering the risk of obesity. "By getting at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise at least three days a week, you can make a positive impact on both your physical and emotional health," adds Don.
Some of the many benefits of exercise are outlined below.
- Improved mood
- Decreased feelings of depression
- Decreased anxiety
- Increased ability to concentrate
- Decreased risk for developing type 2 diabetes
- Reduction in the incidence of heart disease
- Reduction in the incidence of high blood pressure
- Lowered risk of stroke
- Improved sleep
- Decreased risk for developing Alzheimer's disease
- Decreased risk of developing obesity
- Increased energy and stamina
The safest and most effective way to get in shape is to partner with a trained fitness professional who can assist you with creating a personalized fitness plan. Your plan should follow these "F. I. T. T." guidelines:
- Frequency- "How often?"
- Intensity- "How hard?"
- Time- "How long?"
- Type- "What mode?"
In addition, it is important to choose a fitness facility that will support you and guide you in reaching your health and fitness goals.