Regular exercise keeps you healthy, especially as you age. It improves your balance, helps you lose weight, strengthens your muscles and bones, all while making you look and feel better.
But that’s not the whole story.
Regardless of your age and conditioning level (yes, that includes everyone from power walkers to ultra-marathoners), research shows that working out more often provides health benefits—especially in the disease prevention department.
Here are five of the health ailments that regular exercise helps to prevent, manage, and assist in recovery and rehabilitation.
Improved Heart Health
Guess what’s the best way to improve your heart health and strengthen your heart muscles?
It’s cardiovascular training, according to the American Heart Association.
First, regular exercise reduces blood pressure, or what’s known as chronic hypertension. This is the biggest risk factor for heart disease. Hypertension is caused by an increased plague in the arteries.
A healthy heart pumps out more blood with each beat, helping your body function more efficiently and perform at its best. This reduces stress on your cardiovascular system, potentially lowering the risk of blood pressure and other issues.
Whether you like to admit or not, obesity is a serious condition, especially for people living in the developed world.
Technically, being obese means that you have a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher. This high BMI may increase the risk of many health conditions such as blood pressure, heart problems, sleep apnea, osteoarthritis, kidney disease, some cancers, fatty liver disease, and diabetes.
Guess what works like a charm for losing weight?
Of course, exercise.
Working out regularly— backed by a sound diet—wards off weight gain and helps maintain body weight within the healthy range. Research reported that losing 5 to 7 percent of body weight can slash your risks of diabetes by 52 percent.
Another research published in Medicine & Science in Sport & Exercise revealed, after assessing over 100,000 runners, that those who ran 20 miles or more a week gained fewer pounds than those logged in no more than 10 miles.
Not only that, but you can also drastically improve your insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism by exercising more often, according to this research.
Makes Your Bones & Joints Healthier
Getting old and afraid you might be losing bone strength?
Survey shows that about ten million Americans have osteoporosis, with 40 million having low bone mass and are at high risk for the conditions.
Osteoporosis, or what’s known as thinning of the bones, is the primary culprit behind fractures of the back, hip, and wrist as we get older.
Research reported that both strength training and running are valuable assets to have if you’re serious about keeping your bones strong and healthy.
Ward Off Arthritis
Hitting the weight room or pounding the pavement is one of the ideal options for arthritis management. A plethora of studies have revealed that regular exercise is effective in lowering stiffness and pain as well as improving the overall mobility in patients with arthritis.
But why it’s the case?
Exercising often helps increases range of motion, lubricate joints, and lowers overall inflammation and pain in individuals already affected by the condition, research shows.
Regular physical activity may also limit, and even reverse, knees issues by helping to control weight.
Not only that, but since obesity is a significant risk factor the joint issues, spending more time in the gym can help you better manage the debilitating symptoms of arthritis.7
Reduce Risk for Cancer
The big C. The affliction of the modern age. Cancer claims the lives of millions worldwide. The most common include cancers of the breast, colon, and lung.
Here’s some good news for regular gym-goers.
A review of 170 epidemiological studies published in the Journal Nutrition revealed that regular physical activity lowers the risks of many types of cancer.
Another meta-analysis of 67 articles, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, indicated that exercise and weight control are the most important lifestyle choices for reducing breast cancer recurrence rates.
Research conducted at the Public Health Sciences Division found that patients who did cardio training for 60-minute, six days a week, were able to significantly lower and cut and limit the cellular propagation patterns in the colon usually associated with polyps—and over time—cancer.
Research has also found that regular exercises may also lower the risk of recurrent or death by cancer by up to 50 percent in some cancer cases. It also helps relieve the side effects of cancer treatment, especially fatigue and nausea.
I know. Starting an exercise program is no easy feat, especially if you’re overweight/out of shape, or haven’t exercised in a long time. But it’s worth the sweat.
It might take you some time, but finding a workout program that you enjoy week after week can make all the difference—both in the short term and over the long haul. The rest is just detail.
About the author:
David Dack is an established fitness blogger and running expert. When he’s not training for his next marathon, he’s doing research and trying to help as many people as possible to share his fitness philosophy. Check his blog Runners Blueprint for more info.