1. Reduction in coronary heart disease –Exercise helps to lower the “bad” cholesterol(LDL and TG) and increase the “good” cholesterol(HDL). This shift in ratio of good and bad cholesterol helps to reduce the blockages in the arteries. Exercise in combination with a good diet and basic supplements like Omega 3 fish oils, Vitamin C and E can actually reverse or reduce coronary artery blockages.
Exercise also helps to reduce blood pressure and is the mainstay of treatment for borderline high blood pressure. Borderline high blood pressure is defined as a systolic blood pressure of 120 – 139 and diastolic of 80 – 89. Aerobic exercise is the most effective for reduction of blood pressure.
2. Increases lung capacity- Exercise increases the body’s ability to use oxygen effectively. The heart and lungs function more effectively as a unit. Another point is that exercise increases the number of mitochondria in the cell unit. Mitochondria are the power source in the cell. They produce energy. So, more mitochondria means more energy.
3. Prevention of Osteoporosis –Strength training exercises and weight bearing exercises help to build stronger bones. These exercises help to increase bone density due to the stress that is applied to the bones. This actually brings us back to the principle of “what you don’t use, you lose”. The body tends to strengthen the bones to be able to withstand the stress on it. Whereas, if no exercise is done, the bones tend to weaken. Weight bearing exercises include walking, running, cycling.
4. Reduction of Type 2 Diabetes – The incidence of type 2 diabetes is less in people who regularly exercise. Also, the blood sugar control is better in diabetics who do regular exercise. Exercise helps to increase insulin sensitivity, thereby decreasing insulin resistance which is the main cause of type 2 diabetes. More will be discussed in further articles on Diabetes.
5. Increase in muscle strength and flexibility –Strength training makes a person stronger and more able to carry heavier loads due to the increase in muscle tissue. It also gives more flexibility to the joints, while increasing stability. This makes the person less prone to falls. As many of us know, one of the main problems in the elderly is fractures of the hip bone or neck of the femur following a fall. This is usually due to a combination of instability, frailty and osteoporosis. The sequelae of these falls are rarely good. The patients tend to be bedridden. They develop bed sores and a host of other problems, including pneumonia and ultimately death.
6. Reduce risk of osteoarthritis in weight bearing joints – Exercise helps with weight control. A smaller body frame generally puts less strain on the joints and therefore the “wear and tear” on the joints is less.
7. Exercise helps with mood control and reduces depression – Exercise releases endorphins – which are also known as the Happy Hormone. It helps to elevate mood.Other substances like serotonin and norepinephrine are also released. These hormones help to reduce depression. Another effect commonly seen is better sleep and many people have found their cure for their insomnia through exercise.
8. Improved sex life – Last but not least, exercise also helps with the release of testosterone hormones. It reduces the incidence of erectile dysfunction in men.