A clever guide on the benefits of being active

October 2, 2015

Physical activity is key to your health. Here are some of the benefits that moderate physical activity — the equivalent of walking at a 4.8-kilometre (3-mile) per-hour pace — can do for your health.

A clever guide on the benefits of being active

Daily activity benefits your whole body

  • Cardiovascular health: Modest exercise improves cholesterol levels, improves endurance, improves blood pressure and improves the ability of the heart to contract and expand.
  • Body composition: Exercise helps to reduce abdominal fat and increase muscle mass.
  • Metabolism: Daily exercise increases the number of calories you burn, even at rest, reduces LDL cholesterol, reduces very low density cholesterol (vLDL), the type most likely to stick to artery walls, reduces triglycerides and increases glucose tolerance and decreases insulin resistance.
  • Bone health: An active lifestyle helps to slow the decline in bone mineral density and it increases total levels of bone-building calcium and nitrogen.
  • Psychological well-being:  Exercise helps to improve perceived well-being and happiness, reduce levels of stress-related hormones, improves attention span and improves sleep.
  • Muscle strength and function: Daily exercise can reduce the risk of muscle- or bone-related disability, improve strength and flexibility, reduces the risk of falls and improve balance.

A prescription to move

Having trouble getting started with a more active lifestyle? Ask your doctor to write you an exercise "prescription" — a formal, detailed order from the doctor to get moving.

  • A recent study found that when a doctor wrote an exercise prescription for people over age 65, they improved their fitness levels by 11 percent in six months and by 17 percent after a year.
  • In contrast, another group that got no special Rx barely budged.

The amazing power of physical activity

In the summer of 1966, five healthy 20-year-old men went to bed for three weeks. They weren't tired; they were participating in what would become known as the Dallas Bed Rest and Training Study, a landmark study on the effects of exercise (and the lack thereof) on our bodies.

  • After three weeks of complete inactivity — the men even used wheelchairs to get to the bathroom — their muscle function deteriorated to the point where they could barely stand.
  • As researchers later noted, those three weeks of bed rest had a greater effect on their aerobic fitness than 30 years of aging.
  • After the bed rest part of the study, the men completed eight weeks of intensive exercise training that included treadmill workouts and long-distance running.
  • The results? They completely reversed the damage from the bed rest, proving conclusively the amazing power of physical activity.

Being active is a great way to keep your body strong and healthy. Remember these tips and get active today!

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