person exercising with esa dog on beach

When most people think of exercise, they think of “working out”. That term can make exercise seem like a job, and for many people, the thought of doing countless reps in the gym or running for an hour every day is daunting. After all, many people lead hectic and busy lives, and fitting in the time to exercise can feel as if it’s next to impossible. The problem with not making time to exercise, though, is that you’re doing your health a huge disservice.

The key to getting into a new exercise routine is by choosing something you love to do. There are so many things that can be counted as regular exercise as long as you do them enough throughout the week. Walking, dancing, lifting weights, Pilates, yoga, or even leisurely swimming – these are all forms of exercise. The truth is that exercise doesn’t have to be a job. It can be fun. It’s also the ticket to living happily and healthily well into your golden years.

Let’s take a look at exactly why exercise is the key to a healthy heart and happy life.

Why is exercise needed for healthy living?

Exercise benefits your health in many ways. One such way is by helping you get to or maintain a healthy body weight. Obesity can lead to the development of many diseases that can lessen the quality and duration of your life. By exercising, you can maintain a steady weight and avoid obesity-driven diseases. Physical activity is also great for muscle and bone health. As you age, your muscle mass and bone density decrease. This can lead to injuries and disabilities. By keeping on top of your bone and muscle health, you can stay stronger even while you get older.

Many people can’t seem to find the time to exercise because they’re just so tired. From the responsibilities of work and home life to maintaining a social life, it can be hard to get enough sleep. But exercise can actually increase your energy levels so you can feel less fatigued. It might seem like adding more into your routine would do the opposite, but exercise has been shown to provide a boost of energy, even in people who suffer from health issues such as chronic fatigue syndrome.

happy woman with exercise equipment
Image by Ave Calvar on Unsplash: Is exercise the key to happiness?

Exercise is also a great combatant of oxidative stress. Oxidative stress occurs when the antioxidants are not in balance with free radicals. Free radicals damage cells, and without enough antioxidants, those cells cannot be repaired. Oxidative stress can lead to an increase in susceptibility to chronic disease as well as symptoms such as fatigue, brain fog, grey hair, and headaches.

Brain health is also heavily reliant on the amount of exercise a person gets. Getting moderate and regular exercise has been shown to protect the brain’s ability to function when it comes to memory and thinking skills. Physical activity also helps with brain health because when the heart rate is elevated, it promotes blood flow. Since oxygen requires good blood flow to get where it needs to be within the body, exercise can help improve oxygen levels in various parts of the body – including, most importantly, the brain.

Why does exercise make you happier?

Exercise has been shown to be a great mood improver. Research has shown that getting regular exercise can actually reduce feelings of depression and stress. Since stress is a common experience in many people’s lives, and can also lead to the development of chronic disease, combating stress is especially important for happiness and health. Exercise helps to reduce stress and anxiety because it regulates certain areas of the brain that contribute to those feelings.

Exercise can also increase the brain’s sensitivity to hormones such as serotonin and norepinephrine. These hormones, when they are in balance, have been shown to reduce feelings of depression. Research also shows that exercise in any amount can help to produce endorphins. When endorphins are released, they can reduce feelings of pain and promote feelings of positivity.

Getting enough exercise is so important to your happiness that one particular study investigated just how vital it was, and found that when people who exercised regularly stopped, they ended up experiencing an increase in negative moods.

Why is exercise important for heart health?

Your heart health is vital to your overall health. Your heart pumps blood throughout your entire body. In that blood are oxygen and nutrients that various organs and tissues rely on to function properly. Without good heart health, it is difficult to be healthy in any other way. Getting enough exercise is one of the most crucial factors in achieving optimal heart health, for many reasons.

When you move your body on a regular basis, you can actually lower your blood pressure, because exercise acts as a beta-blocker in the sense that it can slow down your general heart rate. The more you exercise, the better the effects will be. Since high blood pressure is a precursor to heart disease, exercising regularly can help combat that. As mentioned above, exercise can also help to keep your weight in check. Being overweight or obese puts stress on the heart and can increase the risk of developing heart disease or suffering from a stroke.

woman running along beach with dog
Image by Leon Liu on Unsplash: Taking your dog for a walk on the beach is great exercise, and your heart will thank you for it.

Heart health is also important for muscle health, which is improved through exercise. Muscles need to draw oxygen out of the blood, and when you exercise, it improves their ability to do that. When the muscles are working as they should and taking the oxygen they need, it reduces stress on the heart. This is because the heart doesn’t have to work harder to pump blood into the muscles that need it.

When you exercise, your body also goes through some physiological changes that are good for heart health. One such example of this is how physical activity affects your sympathetic nervous system – the system that controls heart rate and blood pressure. By exercising regularly, you can cause your sympathetic nervous system to be less reactive, which is good for your heart health.

There are so many reasons why exercise is important for overall wellbeing. The trick to starting a new exercise regimen and sticking to it is by finding exercise that you genuinely love to do. If you can manage that, your body and mind will thank you.

Featured image by Magdalena Smolnicka on Unsplash