October 2, 2014 by Dr. Sana Keller
This is NOT a ‘preachy’ sermon on the benefits of exercise–Stick with me here. And it’s NOT meant to make you feel guilty if you aren’t exercising regularly, either—That doesn’t work—and no one would bother reading! See what you think…
Our days are typically beyond full with all that we have to accomplish before falling into bed at the end of the day. For many, exercise may not make the list of ‘Gotta Get It Done’. Yet, if we let our busy days that are too full for exercise take over, there is often a BIG price to pay in the end. And often, that price is our health.
I think we could all agree that if something is important enough in our day, we will find a way to get it done, right? Like dropping the kids off at school and picking them up at the end of the day…showing up for work on time…buying groceries…taking a bath/shower…eating…filling your vehicle with gas, etc.
I have to confess, I have forgotten to pick up a child from school… forgotten to get to Target before the toilet paper ran out…and forgotten to fill my vehicle with gas. Yet thankfully, those rare forgetful moments can usually be remedied fairly easy without long-term consequences.
Check out this list of some (not all!) of the benefits of regular exercise: *Reduced risk of cancer *Sharper memory *Reduced effects of stress *Improved blood pressure readings *Lessening of depression *Improved weight management *Reduced risk of heart disease *Improved sleep *Reduced anxiety *Improved mood *Improve learning *Better self-esteem *More energy *Improved muscle strength *Stronger bones *Reduced fatigue *Better blood sugar control
As you read through this list, how many of these benefits would you like to have in your life? Seriously…less fatigue, more energy, less risk of developing cancer, better blood pressure and blood sugar control, improved weight management…yes, please! Getting even more specific on cancer risk reduction, regular exercise reduces the risk of colon cancer by 30-40% or more and breast cancer by up to 80%.
In spite of these powerful benefits, the CDC reports that 80% of adult Americans do not get the recommended amounts of exercise each week, which is 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise each week, which breaks down to 30 minutes at least 5 days a week.
Remember, this is not meant to be preachy or guilt-producing. Rather, an attempt to get regular exercise off of your ‘I’ll do it when I have time’ list to your ‘I will somehow make sure I have time’ list.
Digging a bit deeper into the benefits of exercise, we find that:
- Regular exercise combats depression as effectively as antidepressant medications. A study conducted at the Cooper Research Institute in Texas found that patients who did the equivalent of 35 minutes’ walking, 6 days/week, experienced a reduction in their level of depression by 47%. This study shows that as little as 3 hours of regular exercise a week reduces the symptoms of mild to moderate depression as effectively as Prozac and other antidepressants. The research also showed that effectiveness grows stronger the more you exercise.
- People sleep significantly better and feel more alert during the day if they get at least 150 minutes of exercise a week, according to The National Sleep Foundation and a study published in the Mental Health and Physical Activity journal. Study participants also reported they felt less sleepy during the day, compared to those with less physical activity.
- People who exercise on a regular basis not only lose weight more effectively, but are more successful at keeping it off. And the significance of regular exercise goes beyond the physical benefits.
- Cancer patients who exercise regularly during cancer treatment have 40% to 50% less fatigue, the primary complaint during treatment. A major review published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute reported that virtually of the studies showed that regular physical activity decreased the risk of cancer-related mortality and of all-cause mortality. Ciaran Devane, chief executive of Macmillan Cancer Support, emphasizes the power and benefits of exercise as follows: “Cancer patients would be shocked if they knew just how much of a benefit physical activity could have on their recovery and long term health, in some cases reducing their chances of having to go through the grueling ordeal of treatment all over again…”
- There is overwhelming evidence that regular exercise plays a significant role in increasing energy levels, even among those suffering from chronic medical conditions.
Let’s see…less depression, better sleep, better weight control, increased energy levels…and for cancer survivors, reduced risk of recurrence and less fatigue—big enough reasons to add to your ‘I will somehow make sure I have time’ list? I hope so! Check out one of my past blogs on time-efficient, effective HIIT workouts.
Thanks for reading–And for making exercise (your workout!) a priority–
Sana Keller, PhD, RN Health Unlimited, LLC
Photo credits: andybrewer.blogspot.com, darwinisms.com, abc.net, integrativecanceranswers.com, jonathanstevens.com, mushroomnetworks.com, projectlifemastery.com, theastrojunction.com, gyusandgoodhealth.com, petobesityprevention.org, space2live.net