What are the Health Benefits of Exercise – Humanitas Healthcare

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These days, there’s no shortage of information about the benefits of exercise, yet physical inactivity is the fastest-growing public health problem in the United States.

In fact, nearly half of all U.S. adults do not meet the recommended daily allowance for physical activity and nearly one-third report doing less than 10 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity per week.

Yet, studies show that as little as 20 minutes of moderate-intensity activity each day can help keep you healthy, including lowering your risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke and cancer, among other benefits.

Hippocrates (460-370 BCE), known as the Father of Scientific Medicine, is said to be the first physician to prescribe exercise to his patients. The Greek physician wrote two books emphasizing the importance of exercise and diet, stating, “… eating alone will not keep a man well; he must also take exercise. For food and exercise … work together to produce health.”

Staying active reduces the risk of disease and can improve the quality and longevity of your life. Even if you have a family history of some type of disease, activity can help minimize your risk. And active individuals who

undergo surgery often bounce back more quickly than those who are inactive.

Weighing the benefits

According to the Exercise is medicine organization, regular physical activity can:

  1. Reduce the incidence of heart disease and high blood pressure by approximately 40%
  2. Lower the risk of stroke by 27%
  3. Lower the risk of developing Type II Diabetes by 58%
  4. 4. Lower the risk of colon cancer by over 60%
  5. Reduce risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by approximately 40% 6. Reduce mortality and risk of recurrent breast cancer by approx. 50%

Exercise looks different for everyone, from those waiting to begin a safe exercise program to competitive athletes who want to keep functioning at a high level. While it is best to begin being active at a young age, it is never too late to start. Hence, whatever form of activity you enjoy or whatever your level of fitness is, it is important to have an exercise routine in place. Ideally, you should work with your medical provider who can guide you on the level of physical activity and exercise that is optimal for your health.

Physical activity is considered any type of activity that involves moving the body such as housework, stair climbing or gardening. Exercise is a type of structured movement focused on cardio or aerobic activity that gets you breathing hard and your heart beating fast. This includes such things such as running, brisk walking, biking, hiking and swimming, along with strength training. Both forms of movement can enhance your health.

Make a Plan Today

•Low impact. For the average individual just starting out, low impact activities such as an elliptical machine, hiking or walking 2 to 3 times a week is generally recommended. Then, gradually increase cardio and light strength training activities to make sure your body can tolerate it.

•Strength training. Light strength training can start with lifting your own body weight, including squats, lunges and core activities, every other day. These tend to be good first steps. Then, work up to adding light weights (2 or 3 lbs.) or exercise bands that are easy on the joints. Use your off day to assess how your body handles the activity and make adjustments as needed.

•Cardio. Running, cycling, stair climbing or any activity that challenges your heart and lungs can be done on a daily basis. However, your body might not be prepared for this type of workout. Ramp up slowly to help your body become acclimated to more strenuous exercises.”

•Stretching. Warming up your body with stretches and light cardio gets your muscles ready for exercise, prevents muscle tightness and stress on the body.

Most importantly, listen to your body and what it is able to tolerate. If you need a rest day, take one, knowing that rest and recovery are necessary in this process. A little R&R goes a long way in easing you back into exercise and making it a permanent part of your lifestyle.

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