A smart guide to healthy exercise

October 9, 2015

Regular physical activity does wonders for your health, your shape and your mood. No matter what your age, health and level of fitness, there's a form of exercise to suit you. Read on to learn more about the health benefits of regular exercise.

A smart guide to healthy exercise

Some healthy benefits of exercise

  • Exercise burns calories; it also keeps bones healthy, improves cardiovascular performance, enhances digestion, tones the muscles and the skin, and increases your chance of getting a restful night's sleep.
  • In addition to its physical benefits, exercise activates the brain to release endorphins, ­morphine-like natural painkillers that soothe pain and create a sense of emotional well-being. Endorphins are responsible for the "runner's high" that many athletes experience. They help to explain why exercise has a ­positive impact on your state of mind and ability to manage stress.

Exercise is energizing

The paradox of exercise is that by expending energy you can increase energy.

  • By improving the heart's performance and ability to pump blood, aerobic exercise makes your body more energy-efficient, and you consume less oxygen when going about normal daily activities. In effect, it is like tuning up a car's engine and getting better gas mileage.
  • If you are unused to regular exercise, however, you may feel a bit stiff or sore and fatigued at first.
  • Start slowly, perhaps adding only 10 minutes of activity three times a week, and gradually build up the intensity and duration of your workout.
  • After a few weeks of following a regular exercise regimen, most people report a surge of energy.

Exercise burns fat

In this sedentary society you need to schedule regular exercise to keep your body trim and improve your health.

  • If you eat more food than your body uses up in energy, the surplus calories are stored as fat. The only way to lose weight and keep it off is to combine a healthy low-calorie diet with regular aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking, jogging, cycling, swimming or aerobic dancing.
  • By speeding up breathing and raising your heart rate, aerobic exercise helps to burn body fat.
  • Undertaking an exercise program, however, doesn't give you a license to eat all the french fries, fudge and brownies you can lay your hands on. On the contrary, a balanced diet is essential to provide the energy you need to sustain a regular exercise program.

Move it to lose it

  • When you exercise aerobically, your body first burns the glucose circulating; it then turns to the glycogen stored in the muscles and the liver, as well as some fatty acids. Thus, an exercise session longer than about 20 minutes burns more fat and helps to shed weight and keep it off.
  • Endurance training increases the amount of fatty acids being burned. Therefore, the best way to promote fat burning is steady, sustained effort, in which you exercise for long periods — at least 25 to 30 minutes at a time — at 30 to 40 percent of your maximum capability.

Regular exercise is essential to a healthy lifestyle. Keep this guide in mind and start exercising today!

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