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A workout is totally worth it: Understanding the benefits of exercise

A workout is totally worth it: Understanding the benefits of exercise

When your schedule is packed, hitting the gym may seem like something you can skip over. Your health will thank you, though, if you don’t. There are many physical, mental and emotional benefits of exercise.

You’ve probably heard it before, but it’s absolutely true: When you exercise regularly, you’ll feel better, and you’ll be in better health.

If you’ve wondered why you need that exercise, you aren’t alone. Most of us have pondered whether a workout is worth it, at least a time or two.

We’re providing you with the details of why it’s worth it. Bookmark this article from our team of University Medical Center New Orleans experts and revisit it the next time you need a little extra motivation to get your exercise on.

What happens when you don’t exercise

If you’ve ever looked at a list of risk factors for … well, nearly any health condition, you probably saw “a sedentary lifestyle” on the list. What does that mean?

Essentially, sedentary means a person spends more time sitting and less time moving. A lack of formal exercise and physical activity in general increases the risks of developing many medical conditions, including everything from high blood pressure and erectile dysfunction to heart disease and stroke.

Not being physically active can affect your health in more than one way, too. When you aren’t moving your body regularly, you’re more likely to experience weight gain. Being overweight or obese, in turn, is another risk factor for developing conditions like those listed above and Type 2 diabetes.

Exercise does the body good

Let’s take a look at the flipside. What happens when you exercise regularly? Lots of good things!

Regular physical activity can boost your energy levels, keep you more focused and productive, help you maintain a healthy weight, keep your blood flowing effectively through your heart and body, lower your risk of heart disease and other health conditions, and improve your mental and cognitive health.

There are even greater health benefits for older adults. Regular exercise reduces risks of many different conditions and health issues often associated with aging, including risks of falls and dementia.

How much exercise do you need? Experts recommend that most adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week for optimal health. Even a smaller amount can make a big difference, though.

Studies show the power of adding movement into your day—one study found that approximately 110,000 deaths per year could be prevented if adults added at least 10 minutes of movement to their day, while another study found that increasing step count lowers the risk of premature death.

Think about it this way: If you get the 150 minutes of recommended activity each week, that’s just 1/67 of the total minutes in your week. That’s a small investment with big benefits!

6 quick ideas for getting a workout in

Don’t feel like hitting the gym for a workout? That’s OK! You can incorporate movement into your day in many different ways. Try these ideas:

  1. Turn on some music while you’re cleaning the house and make it a dance party.
  2. Head outside for a half hour of weeding and other gardening tasks.
  3. Hit the playground with your kids and be active with them, rather than sitting over to the side.
  4. Put on your walking shoes, pop in your earbuds and go for a walk during your next conference call.
  5. Pick up a jump rope and hop, skip and jump like your elementary-age self.
  6. Walk all the aisles at your favorite big box store or around your local mall, window-shopping along the way.

It doesn’t ultimately matter what activity you choose. Pick something that doesn’t involve sitting—and get moving!

Being physically active is an investment in your future heart health. Looking for other ways to make sure your ticker’s in top shape? The Heart & Vascular Care team at University Medical Center New Orleans is here to help.