The Importance of Staying Active


For some, the thought of physical exercise seems like a drag. Working up a sweat and dealing with sore muscles the next day doesn't exactly sound pleasant, but the benefits of moving your body far outweigh those small annoyances.


From improving your quality of life to boosting your mood, exercising and moving your body regularly can positively impact nearly every facet of your life.


Read on for five reasons it is important to include exercise on your journey to a healthy lifestyle.


1. Regulate Your Weight

When you exercise or move your body regularly, you're increasing your stamina, strength, and ability to go about your day-to-day activities without great strain.


All of these things combine to help you maintain a healthy weight. To manage your weight - if it's considered healthy - the calories you eat and drink must equal the energy you burn, the U.S. National Library of Medicine reports. To lose weight, you must more calories than you eat and drink.


When you exercise, you're burning calories, which could otherwise turn to added pounds. Those added pounds can translate to obesity, which comes with significant health issues and costs.


According to the Department of Health and Human Services, the United States currently faces an obesity epidemic, with about 33% of adults considered obese.


Of course, you don't need to sign up for an intense exercise class to see the benefits of exercise on your weight.


In fact, the Mayo Clinic notes that to reap the benefits of exercise, you just need to be more active throughout the day. Make simple changes, such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator.


According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, adults should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity each week. Lifting a moderate amount of weights twice a week is also recommended.


2. Reduce Illnesses

As mentioned above, the Mayo Clinic notes that regular exercise helps prevent obesity, which in turn combats health conditions and diseases, such as stroke, depression, anxiety, high blood pressure, and other health problems.


Even if you're at a healthy weight, maintaining an exercise routine can help prevent these same health issues.


For instance, MedlinePlus reports that exercise can reduce your risk of heart disease, as exercise strengthens your heart and improves your circulation.


The increased blood flow from exercise raises your body's oxygen level, lowering your risk of heart diseases such as high cholesterol, coronary artery disease, and other issues.


Additionally, exercise can help you manage blood sugar and insulin levels, two components that can lower your risk of type 2 diabetes.


Type 2 diabetes, the type of diabetes most often associated with one's weight, occurs when the body doesn't produce enough insulin to function correctly, or when the body's cells don't react to insulin, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Of course, if you already have type 2 diabetes, you shouldn't discount exercise, as it can help you manage the disease.


3. Keeps the Doctor Away

By exercising and reducing your risk of chronic diseases, you're also eliminating extra trips to the doctor and the costs associated with them. 


Maintaining your health can also have financial benefits. Visits to the doctor's office won't occur as often. High prescription costs will diminish. Insurance premiums could be more affordable later in life.


Additionally, the CDC reports that people who are physically active for about 150 minutes a week have a 33% lower risk of all-cause mortality than those who are physically inactive.


4. Improve Mental Health

There's a direct correlation between one's physical health and their mental health, and exercise plays a part in that.


While you exercise, your body releases chemicals that can improve your mood and make you feel more relaxed. The changes that happen in the brain during exercise promote a feeling of well-being and calmness.


The Mayo Clinic notes that a quick gym session or brisk walk can help you achieve these boosts in mood.


While these may seem like quick jolts of happiness, The HelpGuide, a resource for mental health and wellness, reports that regular exercise can have a lasting, positive impact on depression, anxiety, ADHD, and other issues.


The Helpguide points to studies that have even found exercise can serve as a way to treat mild to moderate depression. Of course, you should always check with your licensed healthcare and mental healthcare provider about depression and anxiety.


5. Helps You Sleep

Getting rest is a crucial element in maintaining your overall health, and exercise enables you to catch a few more z's each night.


According to the Mayo Clinic, regular exercise can help you fall asleep faster and deepen your sleep.


Exercise improves the quality of sleep by reducing the length of time it takes to go to sleep and reducing the time one is awake after

going to sleep and before rising in the morning, according to the CDC.


Though, there is a caveat: exercising too close to bedtime can have the opposite effect, as you may be too energized to fall asleep.


Whether you're exercising to maintain a healthy weight or to improve your mood, it's clear that incorporating exercise into your daily life is an essential element to living a healthy lifestyle.