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Why Exercise Is Good for You.

We keep hearing it. We all know it.

Exercise is good for us. But if you are like me, it’s hard to get motivated. But here’s the deal, if you want to feel better, improve your health, reduce your risk for heart disease, cancer, diabetes, elevate your mood and improve your sex life – exercise.  It acts both as a preventative to disease and can treat several diseases.

Understanding how exercise helps our bodies can be a great motivator.

Although going to the gym on a regular basis is ideal, increasing activities during the day makes a difference. Take the stairs, park in the farthest parking spot when you go to the store, or better yet, walk or bike instead of drive. Put on some music and dance. Take a walk after dinner instead of watching TV.

Even moderate amounts of exercise will lower your risk of early death by about 50%.

Aerobic exercise can improve cholesterol ratios: making the “good” cholesterol or HDLs go up and the “bad” cholesterol or LDL go down.  Resistance training or weightlifting is better at reducing blood sugars and helping with insulin resistance. It also reduces food cravings.

It increases oxygen to your brain, your heart, your lungs which improves their capacity to do their jobs. It lowers blood pressure. It burns calories and helps with weight loss.

Exercise is also good for your brain. It improves memory, helps maintain synapses, increases growth factors. It is also a natural antidepressant, increasing a sense of well-being, reducing anxiety and depression, and improving sleep. In studies on mice exposed to chronic stress, sedentary mice showed shrinking in the brain and memory loss, but in mice who exercised, there were no changes in their brains, and they continued to perform well on memory tests.

Exercise reduces your risk of getting certain types of cancer like breast, colon, bladder and stomach and it improves the quality of life in cancer survivors.

People who exercise regularly show improved sexual arousal in women and better erectile function for men. How’s that for a motivator?

What is enough exercise? If you haven’t exercised in a while, walking for 20-30 minutes, 5 days per week is a good place to start and generally safe for most people. Always check with your doctor if you have underlying health problems. The goal for moderate exercise is 150 minutes per week. For weight loss, you will probably need more and depends on your fitness level, up to 300 minutes per week. If you are super sore or not experiencing the benefits noted above, you may be over-exercising. In this case, you consider hiring a trainer to get you on a good program.

Ready to hit the gym? I’ll see you there!

By Dr. Jennifer Means, ND, LAc

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