By Valerie Berkowitz
The Costs vs. Benefits of Exercise
I bet you have a million reasons why you can’t exercise. Well get ready to toss each and every reason out the door. Unless a doctor has told you otherwise, there is absolutely no reason why you cannot allow yourself a little time to do something healthy for yourself. Increasing your level of activity has many benefits but first let’s look at the downside or cost of exercise, then we’ll review the benefits.
The Cost of Exercise
Everything you do has a cost. Lack of time is one of the most prevalent deterrents to exercise. It’s extremely difficult to add another responsibility to the long “To Do” list. Another cost is that maybe you do not enjoy exercise and it is difficult to participate in an activity you do not like, especially if you do not have extra time.
Add to the list any anxiety you may be feeling about going to a gym or just the discomfort you may expect to feel when embarking on an exercise program. And last but certainly not least is the difficulty involved in change. Healthcare experts admit that making changes to your daily routine to include exercise is not easy. If you want you can think of thousands of reasons exercise may not be suitable for you. But the cost(s) of exercise will never out weigh the benefits.
Benefits of Exercise
As you will see exercise is an underlying thread to mind and body wellness, weight maintenance and improved quality of life. Physical, mental and emotional benefits are the reasons why it is essential to be active.
1. Preserve muscle mass. Some of the weight you lose during any weight loss program will come from muscle, slowing your metabolism. Exercise, particularly weight training, helps preserve muscle mass so you burn more calories throughout the day. This helps prevent weight regain once you reach your goal.
2. Make weight loss stick. Results from the National Weight Control Registry—a long-term study of thousands of people who have lost more than 30 pounds and kept it off for a year or longer—show that nearly all of the successful losers exercised to keep off the weight.
3. Boost mood and energy levels. Exercise raises levels of brain chemicals that helps to boost confidence and lowers stress. Increases in energy levels are due to increases the amount of oxygen and nutrients that circulate in your body.
4. Socialize. If you are at the gym or you take a walk with a friend, upping your activity level with a partner can make exercise more enjoyable.
5. Rest and sleep better. Physical activity during the day can help you fall asleep and attain a good nights rest.
6. Younger clear skin. Exercise helps increase collagen, which in turn can lessen the appearance of wrinkles. Studies have shown the benefit of exercise and reducing acne.
7. Sexercise. With all the benefits I have mentioned, you are likely to feel more energy, look better and feel sexy, so you’ll burn more calories as you have more sex.
8. Exercise builds bone. Weight bearing exercise increases bone strength lowering risk of bone fractures.
9. Improve the Mind. Regular exercise can help improve memory and lower the risk of age related dementia. It can help to free your mind so that you can think clearly.
10. Stay healthy. Exercise helps sensitize the body to many different hormones, including insulin and cortisol. Diabetes, heart disease, cancer and bone density as well as many other health conditions can be improved with exercise. This ensures that, once you mend your metabolism with the right diet, the right amount and right types of exercise will keep you healthy.
As you can see the benefits of exercise far outweighs the costs.
Valerie Berkowitz, MS, RD, CDE, CDN is co-author of “The Stubborn Fat Fix” Winner of the 2010 Best Book Awards for Health: Diet and Weight Loss. She is Nutrition Director for The Center for Balanced Health. Valerie is certified as a diabetes educator and as a lifestyle counselor by the American Dietetic Association in adult weight management. Valerie has been practicing for over 20 years and for a few of those years moderated eDiets online communities. Her specialty is helping people recognize underlying reasons that weight loss may be more difficult than it has to be. Valerie is the mother of four and strives to make eating a balanced and fun experience for everyone.
Check out Valerie’s book, The Stubborn Fat Fix, for even more help on getting rid of excess weight! To find out more, click here.