Exercise is good for you! If you had a dollar for every time you
heard this statement uttered, you’d be rich by now, right? Well,
proponents of everyday physical activity aren’t just blowing smoke
when they repeat this mantra. Medical research has uncovered
resounding evidence to back up this good for you claim. In fact,
the U.S. Surgeon General, the American College of Sports
Medicine (ACSM) and the National Centers for Chronic Disease
Prevention and Health Promotion all recommend the same thing
when it comes to regular exercise: American adults should aim for
30 minutes or more of moderate-intensity physical activity on most,
and preferably all, days of the week.
Inquiring minds want to know, so how exactly will daily exercise
impact your health and well-being? Regular physical activity
positively affects not only your body but also your mind. That’s right:
Exercise simultaneously improves your physical, your emotional
and your psychological health. In fact, it’s a triple-threat combatant
against the physical and mental disorders Americans most often
face: heart disease, diabetes, stroke, stress, anxiety and
depression, just to name a few.
When industry experts stand in staunch agreement, you know it’s
time to focus your attention on their advice and take their
concurring counsel to heart. To that end, consider daily exercise’s
benefits as purported by three of the leading medical sources: the
American Heart Association, the Surgeon General’s Report on
Exercise and Fitness Management magazine.
The American Heart Association (AHA) lists a reduction in the risk
of heart disease at the top of its daily physical activity benefit list.
Exercise improves circulation throughout the body and lowers
cholesterol, thereby decreasing the likelihood of a heart attack or
stroke. The AHA also touts exercise’s ability to counteract the health
problems plaguing today’s young people: obesity, high blood
pressure, high cholesterol and poor lifestyle habits. In so doing, it
prevents the conditions that lead to heart attacks and strokes later
The U.S. Surgeon General, while echoing the AHA’s claims,
narrows down physical activity’s benefits into specific categories.
Overall, he maintains that exercise reduces one’s risk of dying
prematurely, but explicitly mentions a reduction in heart disease,
diabetes, high blood pressure, colon cancer, depression and
anxiety and obesity among its lifesaving advantages. According to
the U.S. Surgeon General, healthier bones muscles and joints as
well as improved psychological well-being are some of the other
benefits regular exercisers enjoy.
In an article entitled The Psychological Benefits of Your Exercise
Program, Fitness Management magazine further details physical
activity’s favorable effects on emotional and mental health. In
particular, the article cites the following psychological advantages
of exercise: 1) It reduces feelings of anxiety, worry, self-doubt and
uncertainty about the future; 2) It lower stress levels and the
accompanying physical complaints, such as headaches and
muscle tension; 3) It energizes, thereby enhancing one’s mood; 4)
It improves sleep quality; and 5) It improves one’s self-image and -
confidence by keeping weight down and elevating mood.
So, while an apple a day is still sound advice, it seems exercising
every day is the new and improved ticket to keeping the doctor