Mark L. Meyer MD,

 F.A.C.P., F.A.C.C.

Exercise is one of the best ways to keep your heart, body and mind healthy and sound.  It also increases the chances of having a healthy heart for as long as you can lift your arms or toss on your running clothes. Exercise is also a great method to reduce anxiety and stress and helps keep bones strong and muscles flexible. Some people think that recommendations for exercise involve dedicating all free time to going to the gym. In fact, any amount of exercise is better than none. The United States Preventative Task Force along with the American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate to high intensity exercise per week. (That's only a half-an-hour 5 days a week).

 

There is hardly a part of the body which does not maintain better Health from physical activity.  The cardiovascular system is a major beneficiary of exercise. Exercise reduces cardiovascular mortality, all-cause mortality, reduces blood pressure, reduces the forms of fat that lead to diabetes, reduces bad cholesterol (LDL), and may increase the "good" cholesterol (HDL). Exercise also boosts the immune system and makes the body better able to fight infection and inflammation. Total body inflammation leads to arterial wall inflammation and this arterial wall damage is the leading cause of coronary artery disease and heart attack.

 

Another important benefit of exercise is that it increases quality of life. Exercisers report feeling increased energy throughout their days, report better quality of sleep, and decreasing levels of anxiety. The advantages of exercise are as numerous as the exercise regimens that you may come up with.

 

A less talked-about aspect of exercise are the social benefits which may accrue. Human beings are social animals and contact with other people, especially outside of work, boosts happiness and self-esteem.  Exercise classes may range from yoga to rock climbing to spin. The key is to find an activity that you actually enjoy, which doesn't have to be extreme at all. Gone are the old ideas that physical exercise can only be beneficial when it's austere and painful, such as marathon training or trying to lift extremely heavy weights. Contemporary ideas of training include walking, stationary bicycles, elliptical machines, mountain biking, hiking, etc.  At the end of the day, once you recognize the important impact of physical activity and give it a try, you will become hooked quickly on the natural high that exercise produces.

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© 2020 Dr. Mark Meyer