Exercising has multiple benefits for our body and health while being preventive and curative. Understanding how fitness affects the brain and physical health is therefore extremely important. Any amount of exercise, even when falling below the suggested levels, is highly likely to produce benefits for our bodies.
Exercise benefits both our physical as well as mental well-being. Indeed, the Institute on Aging states that “taking it easy” and not moving our bodies enough is risky for our future selves.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also states that regular physical activity is a significant measure you can undertake for your health. Everyone benefits from it, not just you but also the people around you.
A few decades back, the pioneering epidemiological study published in The Lancet stated how the rates of coronary heart diseases were lowering among extremely fit and active bus conductors in London compared to the less active ones.
So understanding and knowing how fitness affects the brain, and physical health can actually lead you to live a better life. As per reports and research, physical inactivity is linked to over 40 chronic diseases and conditions. This article tries to look at certain benefits of regular exercising and understand how fitness affects the brain and physical health.
How Fitness Affects Our Physical Health
To understand how fitness affects the brain and our physical health, let’s first understand the benefits it poses for our physical health.
Improvement in our cardiovascular health
The first step to understanding how fitness affects the brain and physical health is knowing its benefits to our cardiovascular health. Regular exercising is extremely good for our heart health. Possible benefits of the same include:
1. Improvement in our cholesterol levels
2. Lowering our blood pressure
3. Reduction in the risk of heart diseases and heart attacks
4. Reduction in the risk of strokes
Reducing our overall risk of developing cardiovascular disease is one of the most significant benefits of exercising.
A person can start to experience multiple benefits of exercising regularly right away. Despite this, CDC recommends that adults only perform 150 minutes of moderate-intensity workout every week.
The overall benefits continue to enhance as people get more and more active.
Helping manage diabetes
As per the American Diabetes Association, different kinds of fitness regimes and exercising can benefit multiple people with type 2 diabetes or those at risk of type 2 diabetes. Exercising can help them:
- Improve their blood glucose levels
- Reduces their cardiovascular risk factors
- Helping in their weight loss
- Helping improve their general well-being and lifestyle
- Delaying or preventing any form of risk development of type-2 diabetes
Exercising can also benefit people who have type 1 diabetes by helping them:
- Improve their cardiovascular fitness
- Strengthening their muscles
- Improve their insulin sensitivity
As per the American Diabetes Association, it is important that we all understand how fitness affects the brain and physical health, especially in the cases of diabetes. Physical activity and exercise must be recommended and prescribed to everyone with diabetes as a part of overall health management and glycemic control.
Reduction in the risk of cancers
According to The National Cancer Institute, there is strong evidence suggesting that higher levels of physical activity and exercising can lower the risk of developing multiple cancers. The cancers whose risk can be reduced are those of colon, stomach, breast, bladder, esophageal, uterine, and kidney.
In an analytical study from 2016 on 26 breast, colorectal, and prostate cancer, it was found that there was a 37% reduction in cancer-specific mortality rates in physically active patients, as compared to the other patients who were not active physically.
Therefore, we can deduce that there might be a certain link between reduced risk of some cancers with physical activity. However, the evidence currently is bleak.
Improving your bone health
As per CDC, exercising regularly can also help prevent our bone density loss, which tends to occur with age. Performing vigorous or moderate-intensity workouts, muscle strengthening exercises, or even aerobic exercise can help strengthen your bones and help us all lead better lives in the long run.
Real benefits for bone density start with only approximately 90 minutes of working out every week. A weight-bearing fitness regime, including dancing or walking and even resistance training, is excellent for maintaining bone health. Since physical activity improves our bone health, it can also help treat or prevent osteoporosis.
Increases your chance of a long life
The 2018 reports from the Department of Health and Human Services suggest that physical activity can delay death and help people lead longer lives.
What’s even better here is that the benefits start accumulating with even the smallest attempts at maintaining a physical regime with moderate exercise. The biggest jump here being - a person suddenly being active, even just a little bit, from being completely inactive.
Keeps your weight in check
According to the CDC, there is great evidence that suggests exercise is great when it comes to maintaining your weight. Although it might take more than what the recommended amount is for someone, it does genuinely help!
Generally, losing weight and keeping it off requires a balanced and healthy diet. It is very easy to overestimate the number of calories that an exercise can burn.
According to CDC, here are a few examples of calories burnt by a person weighing 154 pounds with an hour of activity in a day:
Hiking - 370 calories
Running/jogging at 5 miles an hour - 590 calories
Light gardening - 330 calories
Helps sleep better
Regular exercising can help us understand how fitness affects the brain, especially our sleep. Physical activity helps us all sleep better. Most of these benefits can be seen pretty early on, as one starts exercising. Regular exercise can help us all:
- Increase our sleep efficiency
- Improving the quality of sleep
- Inducing deep sleep
- Reducing our daytime sleepiness/drowsiness
- Reduces our need to relying on any sleep medication
How Fitness Affects The Brain
Now that we are all caught up with how fitness affects our physical health let’s also understand how fitness affects the brain and brain health.
Improvement in your mental health and mood
Yes, exercising and activity can improve our physical health. But did you know it also enhances our mental health and mood? Understanding how fitness affects the brain is therefore important to lead better lives. Exercising helps reduce anxiety, which benefits us right after a moderate or high-intensity exercise session.
- In the long run, regular physical activity can help reduce the risk of depression.
- Enhances your brain function and reduces the risk of dementia
- How fitness affects the brain function is something that is truly mesmerizing to understand. Regular physical activity can help lower the risk of one developing dementia or Alzheimer’s in the long run.
In people above the age of 50, physical activity can improve various aspects of their cognitive abilities, like their process speed. As per a 2016 study, evidence suggests that physical activity combined with cognitive activities can help promote better brain health and function in older adults. In combination, these two activities can help reduce the risk of neurodegenerative diseases and keep the cognitive manifestations of aging at bay.
Regular health maintenance for a better quality of life starts with you! Exercising regularly can reduce multiple diseases and improve your mental health. It helps better your mood, makes you fitter and happier, and also extends your lifespan. Exercise truly benefits you and everyone around you.
Understanding how fitness affects the brain and physical health is extremely important. Benefits of the same can arise quickly in most cases, especially for someone who has long been inactive.
Even when a person is far from meeting their weekly goals of physical activity, the first steps that one takes are what counts. They are significantly worthwhile.
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