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10 Things Exercise Can Do For You
Exercise can sound like a chore to some people. But moving your body pays big dividends now and later, and it really can improve your life. Discover 10 things exercise can do for you, plus tips on adding more movement to your life.
1. LOWER YOUR CARDIO RISK
Getting 30 minutes of moderate physical activity a day five times a week can help lower your risk for heart disease and stroke, two leading causes of death. Regular exercise also helps lower your blood pressure, a measure of cardio fitness.
Want more cardio benefits? Exercise can improve your cholesterol levels. Physical activity correlates directly with HDL (good cholesterol) numbers. If your HDL is low, get going! Moving your body more causes your heart to beat faster, pumping more blood and working out your heart and circulatory system in addition to your muscles.
2. IMPROVE MOOD & BRAIN HEALTH
Moving your body affects your mental health. Exercise can help reduce depression, improve mood and reduce short-term anxiety in adults. Research has found that aerobic exercise, like jogging, swimming, cycling, walking, and even gardening or dancing helps reduce anxiety and depression that you already have. It can also lower your risk of depression.
Not feeling intense? Low-intensity exercise also benefits nervous system health. It helps nerve cells grow and make new connections. Exercise may also help increase confidence, improve self-esteem, reduce social withdrawal, relieve stress and boost creativity. All good reasons to move every day.
3. THINK BETTER
Exercise helps protect memory and thinking skills. A study at the University of British Columbia showed that regular aerobic exercise helps enlarge the hippocampus, the area of the brain tied to verbal memory and learning.
Exercise also helps improve thinking and cognition in young children. And regular physical activity supports learning, thinking and judgment as you grow older.
4. BOOST BONE & MUSCLE STRENGTH
Movement adds life. When you move your legs, arms, hips, shoulders and other joints, you get fluid into the joint where it’s needed for lubrication. And you increase joint mobility. More mobility leads to greater performance.
If you can, lift weights too! Weight training helps maintain muscle mass and strength, which always decreases with age. Anything you do to strengthen your muscles and joints will add to your mobility and long-term joint health.
5. SUPPORT WEIGHT MANAGEMENT
Watching what you eat (calories in) and spending time exercising (calories out) is part of any healthy weight management plan and one of the simplest ways to look at your health.
In your weight management efforts, try to follow the 80-20 rule. What’s that? In a nutshell: 80% of weight management success is determined by diet, and 20% is the result of exercise. So, exercise isn’t the end-all for getting the results you want. That’s because you can out-eat your exercise. But don’t quit moving! You need the valuable synergy that exercise creates.
6. INCREASE ENERGY AND STAMINA
It may sound counterintuitive, but getting regular exercise will increase your energy levels as it boosts your health. When you burn calories, you send oxygen and nutrients throughout your body. These support your heart and lungs and help them to work more efficiently while giving you energy.
7. SUPPORT YOUR METABOLISM
Regular physical activity helps reduce your risk of getting type II diabetes and metabolic syndrome, a condition with concerns like excess abdominal fat, high blood pressure, high blood sugar levels, high triglycerides and not enough good (HDL) cholesterol.
8. REDUCE CANCER RISK
Did you know? Regular physical activity is linked to a lower risk for many types of cancer, including breast, colon, lung, stomach, bladder, kidney and esophagus. Exercise even helps cancer survivors have a better quality of life.
9. IMPROVE SLEEP
Moving more means sleeping better. The vast majority of studies on whether exercise can improve sleep quality or duration have found that it can do both.
10. IMPROVE FLEXIBILITY AND PREVENT FALLING
When you’re stronger and more flexible, you feel better, and you can do more. Active people are more functional AND have a reduced risk of falling. That’s a huge benefit to baby boomers. So keep grocery shopping, taking the stairs, lifting heavy things and otherwise challenging yourself with movement.
Give your exercise regimen a boost!
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