I believe you know why exercise is a benefit to your personal appearance.

Many people begin an active lifestyle with “looking better” as their primary goal. Maybe there is more to it than that?

Exercise may be the closest thing to the fountain of youth. Not only does regular activity strengthen your muscles and improve heart and lung function, but it can also reduce your risk of experiencing major diseases; it stimulates the growth of new brain cells; and consistent exercise even adds healthy years to your life.

Studies show just 30 minutes of physical activity on most days is all that’s required to reap big benefits*. Do you make time for 30 minutes each day? Let me help motivate you! What have you got to lose – or gain?

      1. Keeps you young. Workouts such as brisk walking or cycling boost the amount of oxygen consumed. Improving your aerobic capacity by just 15 to 25% would be like shaving 10 to 20 years off your age, a big payoff for consistent effort. Aerobic exercise may also stimulate the growth of new brain cells in older adults.
      2. Reduces infections. Moderate workouts temporarily rev-up the immune system by increasing the aggressiveness or capacity of immune cells. That may explain why acitve people catch fewer colds.
      3. Prevents heart attacks. Not only does exercise raise “good” HDL cholesterol and lower blood pressure, but new research shows it reduces arterial inflammation, another risk factor for heart attacks and strokes.
      4. Eases asthma. New evidence shows that upper-body and breathing treatments can reduce the need to use an inhaler in mild cases of asthma.
      5. Controls blood sugar. Active lifestyles help maintain a healthy blood-sugar level by increasing the cells’ sensitivity to insulin and by controlling weight. Regular brisk walking can significantly cut the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
      6. Protects against cancer. Exercise may reduce the risk of colon cancer by speeding waste through the gut and lowering the insulin level. It may also protect against breast and prostate cancer by regulating hormone levels.
      7. Combats stress. Regular aerobic exercise lowers levels of stress hormones. For many people, this helps relieve depression as effectively as antidepressant medication.
      8. Relieves hot flashes. Increasing fitness by walking or practicing yoga enhances mood and reduces some menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes and night sweats.
      9. Protects men’s health. Pelvic exercises help prevent erectile dysfunction and possibly benign prostate enlargement, a common cause of urinary problems.
      10. Prolongs life. Studies lasting many years have consistently shown that being active cuts the risk of premature death by about 50 percent for both men and women.

What are your reasons for making physical fitness an important part of your life? Everyone’s motivation is unique, and what gets me moving may have little to do with you. The key to consistent effort is to find your “Why” and then make sure this self-awareness makes it to the to-do list today. And tomorrow. You get the picture!

*Mayo Clinic Staff Report Excerpt. (2011) Exercise: 7 benefits of regular physical activity.