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Health Benefits

Health Ben­e­fits of Exercise

Reg­u­lar exer­cise can help pro­tect you from heart dis­ease and stroke, high blood pres­sure, noninsulin-dependent dia­betes, obe­sity, back pain, osteo­poro­sis, and can improve your mood and help you to bet­ter man­age stress.


For the great­est over­all health ben­e­fits, experts rec­om­mend that you do 20 to 30 min­utes of aer­o­bic activ­ity three or more times a week and some type of mus­cle strength­en­ing activ­ity and stretch­ing at least twice a week. How­ever, if you are unable to do this level of activ­ity, you can gain sub­stan­tial health ben­e­fits by accu­mu­lat­ing 30 min­utes or more of moderate-intensity phys­i­cal activ­ity a day, at least five times a week.


If you have been inac­tive for a while, you may want to start with less stren­u­ous activ­i­ties such as walk­ing or swim­ming at a com­fort­able pace. Begin­ning at a slow pace will allow you to become phys­i­cally fit with­out strain­ing your body. Once you are in bet­ter shape, you can grad­u­ally do more stren­u­ous activity.


How Phys­i­cal Activ­ity Impacts Health
Reg­u­lar phys­i­cal activ­ity that is per­formed on most days of the week reduces the risk of devel­op­ing or dying from some of the lead­ing causes of ill­ness and death in the United States.


• Reduces the risk of dying pre­ma­turely.
• Reduces the risk of dying pre­ma­turely from heart dis­ease.
• Reduces the risk of devel­op­ing dia­betes.
• Reduces the risk of devel­op­ing high blood pres­sure.
• Helps reduce blood pres­sure in peo­ple who already have high blood pres­sure.
• Reduces the risk of devel­op­ing colon can­cer.
• Reduces feel­ings of depres­sion and anx­i­ety.
• Helps con­trol weight.
• Helps build and main­tain healthy bones, mus­cles, and joints.
• Helps older adults become stronger and bet­ter able to move about with­out falling.
• Pro­motes psy­cho­log­i­cal well-being.


Spe­cific Health Ben­e­fits of Exercise


Heart Dis­ease and Stroke. Daily phys­i­cal activ­ity can help pre­vent heart dis­ease and stroke by strength­en­ing your heart mus­cle, low­er­ing your blood pres­sure, rais­ing your high-density lipopro­tein (HDL) lev­els (good cho­les­terol) and low­er­ing low-density lipopro­tein (LDL) lev­els (bad cho­les­terol), improv­ing blood flow, and increas­ing your heart’s work­ing capacity.


High Blood Pres­sure. Reg­u­lar phys­i­cal activ­ity can reduce blood pres­sure in those with high blood pres­sure lev­els. Phys­i­cal activ­ity also reduces body fat­ness, which is asso­ci­ated with high blood pressure.


Noninsulin-Dependent Dia­betes. By reduc­ing body fat­ness, phys­i­cal activ­ity can help to pre­vent and con­trol this type of diabetes.


Obe­sity. Phys­i­cal activ­ity helps to reduce body fat by build­ing or pre­serv­ing mus­cle mass and improv­ing the body’s abil­ity to use calo­ries. When phys­i­cal activ­ity is com­bined with proper nutri­tion, it can help con­trol weight and pre­vent obe­sity, a major risk fac­tor for many diseases.


Back Pain. By increas­ing mus­cle strength and endurance and improv­ing flex­i­bil­ity and pos­ture, reg­u­lar exer­cise helps to pre­vent back pain.


Osteo­poro­sis. Reg­u­lar weight-bearing exer­cise pro­motes bone for­ma­tion and may pre­vent many forms of bone loss asso­ci­ated with aging.


Psy­cho­log­i­cal Effects. Reg­u­lar phys­i­cal activ­ity can improve your mood and the way you feel about your­self. Researchers also have found that exer­cise is likely to reduce depres­sion and anx­i­ety and help you to bet­ter man­age stress.


Mil­lions of Amer­i­cans suf­fer from ill­nesses that can be pre­vented or improved through reg­u­lar phys­i­cal activity.