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Top Ten Reasons You Should Exercise

April 2006
Top Ten Reasons You Should Exercise

The National Institute of Health's 'Healthy People 2000' program designates Indian-American immigrants in the U.S. at high-risk for heart disease. The apparent cause of this alarming trend is our unhealthy diet and sedentary lifestyle. Exercise, one of the most effective solutions to counter disease risk is least employed by Indians in general. Here are some specific reasons and benefits for and of exercising:

1. Weight Loss and Management: Regular exercise along with diet modification is the single most effective way to lose and maintain weight. Exercise burns calories. By not exercising you can gain weight over time. And despite the false promises by manufacturers of "magic weight-loss pills," exercise is the only way to reduce weight.

2. Lower Rate of Disease: People who follow a healthy lifestyle and follow a regular exercise program are less likely to develop certain diseases than those who do not exercise. Weight gain and an inactive lifestyle can lead to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, certain cancers and other health problems. An exercise program that includes strength training and cardiovascular exercise 3 to 5 times a week can lower the rate of these diseases.

3. Improves Conditions such as Arthritis, Diabetes, and Cardiovascular Disease: Regular exercise may reduce the need for medication in those suffering from diabetes. It also helps maintain body weight – an important factor for those living with diabetes. Studies have shown that regular physical activity may play a role in managing blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Working out regularly is also beneficial to those living with arthritis because it improves muscle tone and keeps joints flexible.

4. Stress: Life is full of stress; whether it's getting married, having a child or looking for a new job. One way to relieve stress is to sweat! Whether it's biking, hiking, running or dancing, exercise is one of the best ways to relieve stress.

5. Depression: For people suffering from depression, exercise is one of the best ways to combat it. Exercise increases energy, lifts your spirit and just makes you feel good. Exercise causes the body to produce endorphins which cause a euphoric state thus improving your mood and alleviating depression.

6. Improves Muscle Tone, Strength and Stamina: Not doing a strength training workout at least twice a week causes a loss of up to half pound of muscle mass every year after age 25. That means over the years, simple tasks such as picking up keys off the floor, carrying groceries and climbing up the stairs will become increasingly more difficult as muscles weaken. Lack of cardiovascular exercise causes a decrease in stamina and makes you feel out of breath more easily.

7. Lowers Risk of Osteoporosis: Women are more likely than men to develop osteoporosis. Besides taking adequate dietary calcium, weight training is the single most effective way to prevent osteoporosis. Yet Asian women tend to shy away from lifting weights. A weight-training program not only helps prevent osteoporosis, but also improves bone density in people suffering from osteoporosis.

8. Better Sleep: Who doesn't want to sleep better? Exercise induces fatigue and promotes quality of sleep. Those who exercise regularly also have less trouble falling asleep and are less likely to develop insomnia.

9. Improves Immune System: Research shows that long-term, moderate amounts of exercise boosts immunity and significantly increases natural killer-cell activity, the immune system's first line of defense against viral infections. People who exercise regularly, and on a long-term basis, report getting fewer colds and illnesses than their sedentary peers.

10. Improves Overall Quality of Life: With reduced chances of suffering disease, better sleep, a stronger immune system, increased energy and self-esteem, better muscle tone, increase in strength and stamina, less stress, controlled weight and increased longevity?is there anything better than exercise to improve the quality of your life?

It is advisable to consult your physician before starting any exercise program.

By Aarti Patel

[Aarti Patel is certified by the American Council on Exercise (ACE) as a Personal Trainer and Lifestyle and Weight Management Consultant. Please visit www.aartifitness.com for more information on exercise and fitness and about Aarti's services]

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