We all know that exercise is crucial for staying healthy, but how many people can really say we know exactly what exercise does to our bodies? There’s mountains of research showing just how important staying fit is for keeping our hearts healthy, our hormones in balance, our brains working into our old age and much more. If you’ve been on the fence about starting a workout regimen or are simply curious about how exercise impacts our bodies, check out this list of reasons to exercise:
Exercise benefits our breathing in two very important ways. First, it strengthens the muscles around our lungs, making it easier to bring oxygen into our body and to get rid of carbon dioxide. In addition, exercise increases our body’s aerobic capacity — i.e., the body’s ability to get the oxygen we breathe into our cells and tissues. We tend to lose about 10 percent of our aerobic capacity each decade, but regular exercise can cut this loss in half. Many of exercise’s other benefits stem from our body’s ability to use more oxygen, so this is by far the most important reason to exercise.
Bone density also weakens with age at about the same rate as aerobic capacity, leaving us more susceptible to osteoporosis and fractures. Resistance training or lifting weights slows down and can even reverse bone density loss, effectively increasing bone mass. This type of exercise is perfect for reducing the risk of osteoporosis as we age.
Boosts Brain Power
By increasing blood flow and oxygen saturation in our brain tissue, exercise has a powerfully protective effect on our intellect and memory. The boost in oxygenation helps to maintain crucial brain areas, such as our memory centers (hippocampus) and the area of our brain in charge of planning and reasoning (prefrontal cortex). Regular aerobic exercise even reduces our risk for dementia by helping to preserve the health of neurons. Moreover, r esearch has shown that using exercise as a tool to decrease the risk of developing high blood pressure, unhealthy cholesterol levels and diabetes reduces a person’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease.