We spend a lot of time talking about the latest in exercise equipment and the most updated science of exercise and sports medicine. Sometimes it makes sense to get back to the most basic things like regular exercise.
We live in a time when getting regular exercise has become a challenge. For many people, life is tied to a sedentary way of living that involves computers and enclosed spaces. Regular exercise is not a part of daily life like it once was.
Getting in regular exercise, some kind of sustained physical activity is necessary for our health. Moving our muscles and getting our heart rate elevated is not a luxury. Our basic health depends on getting some kind of regular exercise.
In this guide, we will explore what regular exercise means, the benefits of regular exercise, what benefits there are to regular exercise and we will explore what goes into regular exercise.
What is regular exercise?
Exercise is defined as anything that forces you to move your muscles, elevate your heart rate, and burn calories. While humans used to achieve these kinds of activities in daily life through physical work, we now need to be careful to make sure we move muscles with some kind of regularity.
For healthy adults, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends the following guidelines for regular exercise:
Aerobic activity: You should get at least 150 minutes a week of moderate activity or about 75 minutes of vigorous activity in a week. This can be a combination of the two. The more aerobic activity, the greater the benefits to your entire body.
Strength training: you should work for all muscle groups at least twice a week. Using some type of resistance training, such as weights, get at least 12 to 15 repetitions of resistance training.
Moderate aerobic exercise can include walking, running, swimming, or even mowing the lawn. Strength training can involve weights but numerous exercises use only your body weight.
As a general rule, go for at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous movement every day, and work at least some of your muscle groups every day.
The sedentary lifestyle that has come with modern life and modern convenience mean we need to make sure we actually get up and move our muscles with enough regularity to cause our bodies to burn calories.
It is no surprise that the problems of obesity now plague the 21st century. Contemporary life just does not compel us to exert ourselves in physical ways. This also accounts for why so many people are running, biking, and working out at home and in gyms.
Benefits of regular exercise
Can make you feel happier
Exercise has been scientifically linked to improved moods, greater happiness, decreased depression, and anxiety and can reduce stress.
Regular exercise causes changes in the brain that regulate things like stress and anxiety. It also increases the production of serotonin and norepinephrine which relieve the symptoms of depression.
Regular exercise can also boost the production of endorphins. These can lower your perception of physical pain and produce feelings of greater happiness.
These benefits are not all chemicals. Regular exercise has been shown to help people focus less on fears and things that cause them anxiety. Exercise can help you become more aware of your mental state and practice ways that distract you from fears and anxieties.
Research shows that it does not matter what type of exercise you choose to do. Any form of physical activity can produce the psychological benefits of regular exercise. In a study that looked at women suffering from depression, scientists found that any form of physical exercise led to a decrease in symptoms of depression and an overall improvement in mood.
Finally, it turns out that not exercising can harm moods. Researchers asked a group of people who exercise regularly to stop working out for two weeks. They then measured how these people felt over this time. Researchers found that they all experienced an increase in negative moods and feelings.
Helps you lose weight
This may come as no surprise, but research and evidence show that the increase in weight gain and obesity in the U.S. is directly due to a lack of physical exercise. To understand this properly we need to get a sense of the basic science of exercise and energy expenditure.
Our bodies use energy in three ways: digesting food, exercising, and maintaining basic body functions like breathing and heartbeat. When you cut calories without exercising your body will slow down your metabolic rate to try to make up for the loss of calories. This means that while you are cutting calories, your body is cutting the rate at which it burns calories, and you cannot lose weight.
When you exercise your body increases your metabolic rate to keep up with the increased physical activity. As a result, you burn more calories from the exercise and the increased metabolic rate.
Combining some type of aerobic exercise with a diet that limits calories is the most effective way to lose weight since this combination causes the body to burn the most calories while limiting the number of calories it can burn. Regular physical exercise is the best way to lose weight.
Great for muscles and bones
Exercise is the key to strong muscles and bones. Combined with adequate protein intake, regular exercise will build muscle. And because regular exercise causes the production of hormones that absorb amino acids toward promoting muscle growth, it also helps build strong bones to support muscles.
As we age, we tend to lose muscle mass and muscle functions. This can lead to injuries and disabilities. Regular exercise is the main way to prevent muscle loss and reduced muscle function.
What is more, exercise promotes bone density. This can help prevent the onset of osteoporosis as we get older.
It is interesting to note that high-impact sports such as gymnastics and running tend to promote more bone density than sports like swimming and cycling. The same is true of sports that have an odd impact on bones like soccer and basketball.
Increases energy levels
Exercise boosts energy levels for anyone, but it is especially effective in boosting energy levels in people who suffer from medical conditions that reduce their energy levels.
Studies have shown that people who suffer from chronic fatigue can improve their energy levels with regular exercise. In fact, it has been clinically shown that exercise is the most effective way of combating chronic fatigue syndrome.
What is more, regular exercise has been shown to improve energy levels even in people suffering from progressive illnesses like HIV/AIDS and multiple sclerosis.
Reduces the risk of chronic illness
The leading cause of the chronic disease is a lack of physical exercise. Regular exercise improves insulin levels and reduces insulin sensitivity. It can decrease blood pressure. And regular exercise improves cardiovascular fitness and lowers fat levels in the blood. All of this lowers your risk of developing chronic diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
Improves the health of your skin
Your skin can be negatively affected by oxidative stress. This occurs when your body’s antioxidant defenses are low or compromised. The presence of free radicals that comes with this condition can damage your skin.
Regular moderate exercise increases your body’s natural antioxidants and this protects skin cells from damage caused by oxidative stress. Regular exercise also improves blood flow which delays the damage that comes with aging skin.
Types of exercises
There are far too many types of exercise to list in this guide. But the general categories of exercises are as follows:
Aerobic exercise speeds up your heart rate and breathing. It is crucial for many body functions. Aerobic exercise can relax blood vessel walls, lower blood pressure, burn body fat, lower blood sugar levels, reduce inflammation, improve your mood, and raise the levels of HDL or good cholesterol. Aerobic exercise is important for long term health by reducing your risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, breast and colon cancer, and depression.
Strengthening your muscles not only makes you stronger, but also stimulates bone growth, lowers blood sugar, assists with weight control, improves balance and posture, and reduces stress and pain in the lower back and joints.
A physical therapist can design a strength training program that you can do two to three times a week at a gym, at home, or at work. It will likely include bodyweight exercises like squats, push-ups, and lunges, and exercises involving resistance from the weight, a band, or a weight machine.
Stretching helps maintain flexibility. Rather than losing the flexibility of youth as we age, you can maintain this flexibility by regularly doing flexibility exercises. Warm-up your muscles first, with a few minutes of dynamic stretches—repetitive motion such as marching in place or arm circles. That gets blood and oxygen to muscles and makes them amenable to change.
Then perform static stretches (holding a stretch position for up to 60 seconds) for the calves, the hamstrings, hip flexors, quadriceps, and the muscles of the shoulders, neck, and lower back.
Another thing we need to be careful about as we age is maintaining balance. Balance exercises help you sustain the freedom of movement we have in youth. Balance exercise maintains the coordination between muscle groups and our vision and inner ear.
Typical balance exercises include standing on one foot or walking heel to toe, with your eyes open or closed. The physical therapist may also have you focus on joint flexibility, walking on uneven surfaces, and strengthening leg muscles with exercises such as squats and leg lifts. Get the proper training before attempting any of these exercises at home.
You should aim for about 150 minutes of aerobic exercise per week.
You should engage in strength training at least twice a week for about 30 minutes.
Aim for a program of stretching every day or at least three or four times per week.
Work on balance exercises 3 to 5 times per week.
Regular exercise FAQs
What is exercise?
Exercise is defined as anything that forces you to move your muscles, elevate your heart rate, and burn calories.
How much should I exercise?
You should get at least 150 minutes a week of moderate activity or about 75 minutes of vigorous activity in a week. This can be a combination of the two. The more aerobic activity, the greater the benefits to your entire body.
What are the benefits of regular exercise?
Regular exercise can burn fat and calories, strengthen and build muscles, improve bone density, combat chronic illness, and improve your mental health.
What kinds of exercise should I be doing?
You should try to combine aerobic exercise, strength training, balance exercises, and stretching.
Staying fit and healthy with regular exercise seems like an obvious prospect. We all know that in order to be healthy we need to exercise. But many of us simply do not get the regular exercise we need to stay fit and healthy.
Our modern lifestyle tends to force us to become sedentary. We work on computers and we never get the physical exertion we need from ordinary daily activity. This is why it has become so important to pay attention to regular physical exercise.
To be healthy and stay healthy, even into old age, we need to make sure we get a minimum amount of aerobic activity and strength training. Ideally, we should complement this with balance exercises and stretching.
Regular exercise maintains the health of our heart, circulatory system, blood pressure, and even our skin. We can fight depression and anxiety with regular exercise. Perhaps most important to keep in mind we stay healthy well into our older years by learning to exercise regularly now. Even diseases associated with old age like osteoporosis can be kept at bay with regular exercise.