What is exercise good for and why is it so important? At the most fundamental level, I exercise to look good and feel good. Of course, it has gotten a lot harder now that I’m in my 50s, but it is so worth it and I plan to keep it going for as long as I can. More specifically, there is a lot of research to support the many benefits of exercise 1 2 including:
- Helps with weight management
- Helps keep you healthy and fight disease, including
- Heart disease / Heart attacks
- Metabolic syndrome
- High blood pressure
- Type 2 diabetes
- Many types of cancer
- Cognitive decline (e.g. memory loss, dementia, etc.)
- Loss of bone density (e.g. osteoporosis, osteopenia, etc.) and increased risk of bone breaks and fractures
- Helps improve mood
- Helps boost energy levels
- Helps promote better sleep
- Helps improve sexual performance and intimacy
- Can be enjoyable and fulfilling
How much do you need?
In the U.S., the federal government recommends adults get at least 75 minutes of vigorous or 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise per week to achieve the maximum health benefits.
In addition, the American Heart Association recommends adults engage in moderate- to high-intensity muscle-strengthening activity (like resistance or weight training) at least twice per week. Read: How much physical activity do you needs? (American Heart Association): https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/fitness/fitness-basics/aha-recs-for-physical-activity-infographic
What kind of exercise do I need?
In my experience, a good all-round fitness program should include some combination of:
- Strength Training (i.e. free weight, machine/equipment or bodyweight resistance exercise)– for muscle tone, bone health, performance and overall staying in shape
- Cardio (i.e. more prolonged physical activity that elevates your heart rate) – for healthy heart and lungs
- Muscle release and stretching – to promote healthy recovery, muscle/joint balance and mobility
The most important consideration, however, should be to do what you enjoy the most so that you will do it more regularly. However, remember to be kind to your body and “do no evil”. If whatever you are doing causes you chronic pain or injury, you should consider getting some expert help to make sure you are:
- Not over-training
- Not using poor biomechanics (i.e. bad form or movement patterns)
- Using complementary strength training and muscle release/stretching as needed to promote good biomechanics, improve performance and prevent injury (i.e. Corrective Exercise).
- Mayo Clinic: Exercise: 7 benefits of regular physical activity: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/exercise/art-20048389
- WebMD: Exercise for Osteoporosis https://www.webmd.com/osteoporosis/features/exercise-for-osteoporosis#1