The Not So Obvious Benefits of Exercise & Fitness
Who knew the benefits of exercise far exceed the results of weight loss? Here we are, three weeks into the New Year. The smells of cinnamon and nutmeg, and the endless aroma of cookies, are slowly dissipating leading us to the once theoretical promises of resolutions which are now lurking at every turn. What was an empty parking lot at the gym is now abustle with fitness enthusiasts trying to fulfill a promise they think they should be keeping. But why? Where is the motivation?
According to a Nieslen Survey done in January 2015, weight loss continues to hold the number 1 ranking on all American’s New Year’s resolution list. But aside from weight loss being the most obvious benefit to exercise, there are many others benefits just as important that remain in the shadows. So what are they?
- Enhances all five senses. Most of us who love to workout do so with music. Tempo and “rhythm response,” which is how the body moves to the music, helps determine the extent of endorphin release. Research has shown songs with an average of 120 bpm stimulate a cortical response and transmit electrical activity to the motor and sensory components of the brain. This triggers the release of serotonin, dopamine, and all other feel good hormones. The production of these hormones allows each of the 5 senses to become responsive to stimuli.
- Reduce visceral belly fat. Belly fat, also known as “bad fat”, has made its way into mainstream conversations. What really is belly fat and why is so important to lose it? Some fat is needed to insulate and protect the vital organs from trauma. Too much belly fat triggers the release of adipokines, a dangerous inflammatory hormone that is the culprit in many diseases. Risk of metabolic disease increases in men with waist circumference greater than 40 and women greater than 35. Doing endless number of sit-ups won’t fix this. Healthy food, ample exercise, quality sleep and peace of mind can help control your belly fat.
- Improves healing. “Inflammation is one of the fundamental underlying causes of almost all chronic disease, including certain cancers,” says Mark Hyman, MD. Inflammation causes an elevation in cytokines which is a direct result of sedentary life and poor eating habits. Exercise also aids in the removal of bacteria from the lungs with increased respiration and flushes carcinogens through urine and sweat. This leads to the production of white blood cells which helps create more antibodies. This response aids in restoring cellular homeostasis and optimizing cellular healing and repair.
- Improves sexual function. A 2003 study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that men over 50 who were physically active had a 30 percent lower risk of erectile dysfunction compared with those who were sedentary. In women, exercise has long been known to balance estrongen:progesterone ratios. Known as the natural “feel good antidepressant”, exercise plays a vital role in improving self-image and self-confidence, thereby leading to happy times behind close doors.
- Solidifies friendship. This is not one we hear often, but let’s stop and think for a moment. If you are a fitness fanatic or are happy exercising in moderation, you reap the benefits of what exercise has done in your life. Those friends in your exercise circle keep you accountable, just as you do for them. When the body is healthy, the mind is calm. If the mind stays strong, the heart is joyful. If the heart feels happy, so do you! Next time you hesitate to go the gym, just remember you have a friend who gets it.
The benefits to exercise, clean eating and healthy lifestyle are endless. With the crazy time-restricted, gadget filled, world we live in today, we lose our priorities and in the process we lose ourselves.
Taking one hour 4-5 time a week to take care of yourself is the MOST UNSELFISH thing you can do! So exercise at home or join a gym, but take care of you!
Dr. Raman’s Concierge Medical Practice is focused on holistic care and good health maintenance. For more information on healthy eating habits and achieveing and maintaining OPTIMAL health, CONTACT our office today to schedule your appointment. You can also learn more by following Dr. Raman on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest.