In ancient times, Plato (427-347 BC) referred to medicine as a sister act to physical exercise. Today, experts from Harvard say there is not an exact recipe to ensure good health, however regular exercise and a heart healthy diet can help you live longer and feel great! During February’s Heart Month, let us all make the changes we need to become more active. Do you need more convincing? If so, here are five great reasons to move more.
#1: The number one motivator to exercise is to prevent cardiovascular disease. Regular exercise not only helps to prevent high blood pressure but it increases your HDL (high density lipoprotein) or ‘good’ cholesterol, and it decreases unhealthy triglycerides. Physical activity can also prevent other serious health problems such as stroke, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, depression, some forms of cancer, and arthritis.
#2: Being more active is the best way to prevent weight gain. The more you are active, the more calories you burn. Vigorous exercise burns even more calories in a shorter time period. Exercise can easily be incorporated into your lifestyle without a huge time commitment. Ten minutes of fast walking several times a day can be quite beneficial. Why not park in the last row of the parking lot? Walking into work or a store from a greater distance is a good thing!
#3: Regular physical activity helps decrease stress and makes you feel happier. A brisk power walk or gym workout helps increase the production of endorphins; these are the feel-good neurotransmitters the brain produces during exercise. When you exercise regularly, your emotions are lifted, and times of tension and stress are decreased. It can even boost your confidence and self-esteem!
#4: Exercise will also improve your muscle strength and cardiovascular endurance. During regular exercise, oxygen and nutrients are delivered to your muscles helping them to work more efficiently. This benefit will also help you to be more energized in the bedroom; it actually can have a positive effect on the sex life of men and women! And speaking of bedroom, regular physical activity can help you sleep more soundly. Exercise will help you fall asleep faster and deepen your sleep. Please be aware; exercising in the evening just prior to bedtime will energize you!
#5: Exercise has so many benefits and it can be FUN! Regular physical activity gives you a chance to unwind and blow off steam. After you consult your physician about your intent to exercise, pair up with a friend or colleague as a workout partner and begin together. It is encouraging to motivate one another, especially while you are in the early stages of establishing exercise as a regular habit.
So why not give it a try? We are confident that there will never be a time when you go to the gym or participate in a great work-out and say, “I wish I hadn’t done that!” Set a goal for yourself and let’s get active!
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This post was written by Chester County Hospital’s Cardiovascular Nurse Navigator Donna M. Taylor, RN, BSN, CCRN.
Learn more about heart health at ChesterCountyHospital.org.