The Benefits of Exercise

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Engaging in regular exercise is one of the best things you can do for your health. Exercise helps to improve your sense of well-being, to prevent heart disease and several other important medical problems, and to improve your chances of remaining healthy and hale well into your old age.

How Does Exercise Make You Healthy?

Regular exercise has several beneficial effects on your body that can improve the function of your musculoskeletal system, your cardiovascular system, your respiratory system, your metabolism, and even your brain.

Musculoskeletal benefits of regular exercise:

  • Exercise increases the size and strength of your muscle fibers.
  • Exercise increases the strength of your ligaments and tendons.
  • Exercise increases the number and density of the capillaries that supply blood to your skeletal muscles.
  • Exercise increases the number and the size of the mitochondria (the power plants) in your muscle tissue, which allows your muscle to burn more energy.

Cardiovascular benefits of regular exercise:

Respiratory benefits of regular exercise:

  • Exercise improves your lung capacity.
  • Exercise increases the blood flow to your lungs, allowing the lungs to deliver more oxygen into the blood.

    Metabolic benefits of regular exercise:

    • Exercise increases your muscles' ability to burn fat more efficiently.
    • Exercise increases the mobilization of fatty acids into the bloodstream, from your fat deposits. (These last two effects of regular exercise "tune" your metabolism into more of a fat-burning machine.)

    Other benefits of regular exercise

    • Exercise improves your immune function, which reduces your chance of getting some infections.
    • Exercise appears to reduce your chances of getting breast cancer, pancreatic cancer, and certain other gastrointestinal cancers.
    • Exercise helps to prevent gallstones.
    • Exercise helps to prevent the physical and cognitive declines of aging.
    • Exercise reduces your risk of Alzheimer disease.

    A Word From Verywell

    Given all the physiologic benefits it produces, it is easy to see how regular exercise can help to prevent cardiovascular disease.

    In addition to the direct beneficial effects of exercise on the heart, regular exercise also improves several important cardiac risk factors. Exercise lowers blood pressure, helps prevent obesity, reduces triglyceride levels, increases HDL cholesterol levels, and improves insulin resistance (and thus helps to prevent or even reverse metabolic syndrome ). An exercise routine has even been shown to be helpful in achieving smoking cessation.

    Regular exercise is one of the most beneficial habits you can develop for your overall health, well-being, and longevity.

    Sources:

    Dumith SC, Hallal PC, Reis RS, Kohl HW 3rd. Worldwide Prevalence Of Physical Inactivity And Its Association With Human Development Index In 76 Countries. Prev Med 2011; 53:24.

    Kodama S, Saito K, Tanaka S, et al. Cardiorespiratory Fitness As A Quantitative Predictor Of All-Cause Mortality And Cardiovascular Events In Healthy Men And Women: A Meta-Analysis. JAMA 2009; 301:2024.

    Proper KI, Singh AS, van Mechelen W, Chinapaw MJ. Sedentary Behaviors And Health Outcomes Among Adults: A Systematic Review Of Prospective Studies. Am J Prev Med 2011; 40:174.

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