A few weeks ago I picked up Time magazine and saw the cover story, “The Exercise Cure.” It reported some bad news about our fellow Americans. Only 20% of Americans get the recommended 150 minutes of strength and cardiovascular physical activity each week. More than half of all baby boomers don’t exercise at all. And approximately 80 million Americans over age 6 are completely inactive.
This is sometimes hard for me to believe since I’m a fitness trainer and the majority of my week I see people walking, swimming, strength training, squatting, lunging, stretching and actively working to maintain and improve their health. My job keeps me around active, healthy people who, in my opinion, are role models for good health because of their disciplined lifestyle.
The good news is exercise does cure. Exercise is medicine. I remember writing that in this column a few years back. It’s good to see it written at the national level in a popular magazine like Time. The scientists are realizing there is no pill that can come close to helping the body like exercise helps the body. We should all be buying stock in exercise.
Here’s a few incredible things that happen when you get your body moving (from the Time magazine article):
You may age slower. New research says that moderate intensity exercise may slow down the aging of our cells. I like how they showed moderate intensity exercise providing this benefit and not maximum or high intensity exercise. I know high intensity exercise is popular now and it can be beneficial, but high intensity exercise can also discourage people from exercising because of increased risk of injury or burn out.
Your skin will look better. Aerobic (with oxygen) exercise increases the blood flow, oxygen and nutrients to our skin. It helps to improve our skin health and can even help wounds heal faster.
Your fat cells shrink. Most people want to lose a few fat pounds. It’s probably one of the few things the majority of Americans can agree on in this political year. With consistent aerobic exercise, our body will get better at burning fat. Fat requires a lot of oxygen to convert into energy. Fat cells also contribute to body inflammation. When we shrink our fat cells, we help reduce our inflammation.
Exercise helps you recover from a major illness. Even with the sickest patients, doctors say that basic walking exercises that increase the heart rate and blood flow help with chronic diseases. Exercise also helps with depression, anxiety, mood and energy levels.
You may be happier because of exercising. Exercise stimulates chemical releases in our brain (for example… serotonin, norepinephrine, endorphins, and dopamine). These chemicals can help to dull pain, relieve stress and put us in a better mood. We feel better not only physically but also psychologically and emotionally.
So why in the world aren’t you exercising? Oh, good point. If you’ve read this column, I imagine you do exercise. Great job and keep at it. Here’s to continuing your exercise routine and encouraging others to join you.
Jonathan Souder is the Fitness Director at Manor House, an Acts Retirement-Life Community in Seaford, Delaware. This column appeared in the September 29, 2016 edition of the Seaford Star.