Benefits of Exercise

Your body is a beautifully designed machine. Unlike any manmade machine, your body gets better with continual use. Physical therapy is an entire medical field devoted to training the body to heal by exercising it. Many aches and pains we develop are largely due to lack of physical exercise and stretching. Humans do a lot of sitting and standing in one position. Whether it be in the car, at a job all day, or coming home to relax, we've designed a lifestyle that is very different from our natural state, and as such we have developed many problems that other mammals simply do not experience. Regular exercise and stretching are a wonderful prevention to many of these ailments.

The benefits of exercising are so great and numerous, that it is almost shocking how few people make time for regular exercise in their daily lives. Aside from the obvious benefit of being and feeling more attractive from staying physically active, there are also several health reasons to stay active.

Heart Healthy

Your heart is a muscle, and like all of your muscles, it loves to be worked out. I would go as far as to say that cardio (cardiovascular exercise) is the most important exercise that you can do. If you don't have time to schedule in a workout, just get some cardio, ideally 30 minutes, every day.

What does this mean? What constitutes "cardio"? When we talk about cardio, we mean anything that gets your heart rate up: walking briskly, running, Pilates, spin class, biking. Do something that matches your fitness level. If 30 minutes is too much, start small and build up to it. 

When you exercise your heart, it's able to pump more blood to the rest of your body. These are some of the benefits to increased blood flow:

Blood clots often comes from immobility and resulting poor circulation. This is why getting your blood flowing is a great preventative measure.

Like your heart, your lungs are also muscles. Your lungs are in charge of delivering oxygen to your blood stream. Thus, when you increase blood flow in your body, your lungs kick into drive and get a workout as well. A strong heart and lungs lead to a healthy life.

Speeding up your metabolism helps with weight loss and aids in regulating the digestive tract. A happy digestive system equals a happy person.

Your brain requires a lot of blood to do its job every day.  Increasing your blood flow gives your brain an extra boost. Some of the benefits are heightened memory, increased critical thinking, problem solving, and decision-making abilities.

When you get your blood pumping, your body releases a number of healthy chemicals into your blood stream. These chemicals help regulate your hormones, leading to reduced stress and anxiety. A regulated hormonal system will also lead to more daily energy and better sleep.

More even than abdominal workouts, cardio wil lead to a good looking stomach. Many of us would be surprised by the muscle we already have that's just hiding underneath. Since you have to move, almost all forms of cardio will lead to a good looking lower body. Glutes, thighs, and calves are all included in most cardio exercises.

How to Work Out Your Heart:

Cardio exercise is simply anything that increases your heart rate. It is not necessary (or even good) to try an extreme workout if you are just beginning. If you would rather walk than run, do so. Jumping jacks, jump rope, and trampoline jumping are all great cardio as well. If you are exercising in a gym, there are usually a number of options for cardio equipment. Pick something that you enjoy. It is far more important to finish your 30 minutes than to do it quickly.

Pace yourself. It is better to start off slow and stick with it than to kill it the first day and never come back. Optimally, it would be good to do at least 30 minutes of cardio everyday; however, many of us get busy and won't end up making time seven days a week. It is good to shoot for at least 30 minutes three or four days a week. You'll be surprised how different you feel and look just by sticking with this small commitment.

Stretching

Stretching is an extremely important part of fitness that is largely forgotten by the gym crowd. When working on your cardio, it's good to do some light stretching of your legs before and after. It reduces soreness greatly and will help you build stronger muscles faster. It's hard for blood to flow through knotted muscles, and this will prevent knots from building quickly.

Many runners experience knee pains because even though they stretch their hamstrings, calves, and quads, they forget about their hips. It is important to make sure you are stretching all of your muscles before and after your workout. This will ensure that you are taking the best possible care of your body.

Full Body Fitness

Although cardio is the most important part of the workout, because it takes care of its regulating properties, it is also good to workout all of your muscles. The best way to prevent injuries and quick aging is to workout each of your muscles. Your body improves itself with use. Stronger muscles are less likely to cause problems than weak ones.

As always, when beginning, do not overdo it. Just because your muscles get better with use, does not mean going in and completely stressing them out in the gym is a healthy thing to do. It is always better to start out slowly and stick with it.

Having a toned, healthy body will not only make you look and feel really good, it's very good for you. Working to strengthen your muscles also strengthens your tendons and ligaments in addition to ensuring that you are getting proper blood flow to each part of your body. As always, it is good to stretch out each part of your body before and after you work it out. This helps with blood flow, reduces soreness, and releases lactic acid build-ups.

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