What Are the Benefits of Exercise and Developing a Healthy Active Way of Life?

Heather Campbell
 min read

Benefits of exercise and developing a healthy active way of life have long been lauded, but what do you really know about them?

What Are the Benefits of Exercise and Developing a Healthy Active Way of Life?Adopting a more active lifestyle and getting some more exercise are essential for your body and mind.

As a whole, exercise effectively reduces depressive and anxiety symptoms and feelings of stress to a great degree. Active people will need less medication, and active lifestyle behavior promotes relaxation and reduces possible sleep problems and mood disorders.

You don’t even need to sweat, as long as you move because that’s really the most important thing!

For example, consider gardening, walking, swimming, playing soccer, dancing, biking, kite surfing, jogging, frisbeeing, cleaning, climbing stairs, etc.

Exercise does a lot of good for your body and your mood. So what can you expect from it all, and when are you moving enough? Read on for more!

Benefits of exercise and developing a healthy active way of life: Introduction

More and more doctors are advocating prescription exercise because, unlike medications, it has no negative side effects (provided you do it right and wisely, of course).

After all, those who rush into a new sport as a beginner run a high risk of injury.

But let’s assume for a moment that you build it up slowly. For example, start with daily walks, then on to cycling, dancing, or swimming once a week, and on top of that, you take the stairs as often as possible instead of the elevator.

Then you may just find that you sleep better, become less anxious, and/or have lower blood pressure.

You can avoid taking sleep medications and/or taking sedatives or medicines for high blood pressure by exercising more.

Thus, exercise can have the same or even better effect than certain medications. In part because it can show improvement on several fronts at once.

For example, exercising daily can help you sleep better while also lowering your blood pressure.

Benefits of exercise and an active lifestyle

There is now considerable evidence of the benefits of exercise and developing a healthy active way of life. A more active lifestyle can result in no or less medication being needed for specific conditions.

And it is also proven that you are less likely to get certain diseases and disorders.

And when you have an illness or condition, you can alleviate the inconvenience and symptoms of it by getting enough exercise.

Just a few of the proven positive effects of exercise:

  • It reduces depressive and anxiety symptoms and feelings of stress.
  • It can lower your cholesterol levels, so you don’t have to take cholesterol-lowering drugs.
  • It protects us from cognitive decline and improves our cognitive abilities, such as learning, remembering, and complex thinking.
  • It reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes and obesity.
  • With osteoarthritis symptoms (pain and stiffness in your joints), exercising in a dosed and sensible manner can reduce the number of symptoms.
  • Compared to little exercise, it makes us 13% less likely to get breast cancer and 16% less likely to get colon cancer.
  • If you have diabetes (type 2 diabetes), it may help to ensure that you will no longer need to take medication after some time.
  • It makes you fit, powerful, and supple.
  • Research shows that special gait therapy to treat legs that tire quickly works just as well as Dotter treatment (during which a narrowing in the coronary artery is stretched with a type of balloon). Add in lifestyle modification and behavioral change, and this approach even wins out over dotting. Pediatric arterial disease is a vascular condition in which the arteries in a leg or legs are narrowed. It can cause pain, cramping, or a numb/tired feeling in your legs.

Medications versus more exercise

People with cardiovascular disease and diabetes are at risk of early death, but certain medications reduce that chance.

And research shows that exercise can have the same beneficial effect as medications (Comparative effectiveness of exercise and drug interventions on mortality outcomes: metaepidemiological study, Naci and Ioannidis, 2013).

Exercise is accessible and enjoyable

Nice, right, all those positive effects of sports and exercise? And its benefits are easy to come by, aren’t they? Well, in practice, unfortunately, this is not always the case.

It often takes some effort, and starting to move more can require discipline and perseverance.

Are you a beginner? Then it’s a good idea to start walking. You don’t need anything for it except a pair of good shoes. It quickly yields many benefits such as rest, relaxation, insights, social contact, fresh outdoor air, etc.

Do you occasionally suffer from burnout symptoms or panic attacks? Start by walking every day. Chances are that after a few weeks, you will become less anxious, sleep better and get a better handle on everything that is going on in your life.

A daily walk will help you sleep better and lower your blood pressure.

While walking, you can apply mindfulness. Ask yourself questions such as: What do I smell? What do I see? What is going through me?

Once you have started your daily exercise, you can start thinking about what else you would like to do as a workout. Be sure to listen to your gut in this area.

Choose something that makes you happy because then you are much more likely to stick with it.

By the way, you don’t necessarily have to think about sports when you move more. Cleaning, gardening, tidying up, doing chores and fishing are all activities that can provide health benefits.

Cleaning up and tidying can also be fun, if only because of the end result or the music you play in the background.

Eat smarter and avoid unhealthy snacks

When you start exercising more, especially when you exercise more often, you may snack more.

Your body wants food to reabsorb the calories you consumed by exercising. Always have something nutritious in the house that will benefit your body. A handful of nuts, for example.

This will prevent you from eating potato chips or chocolate.

Related: Read our other post to learn why you should favor whole, natural foods instead of processed foods: Why Should We Avoid Ultra-Processed Foods? Risks and Consequences

Also, don’t make the mistake of exercising for about 30 minutes a day and spending the rest of the day sitting and/or lying down. Just because you start to move a little doesn’t mean you have to lounge around for the rest of the day…

In doing so, you negate the effect of the extra movement. So make sure you stand and walk as much as possible during the day.

Try to take 10,000 steps every day (buy a pedometer or install an app on your smartphone for this).

Sitting less is the message

As humans, we are actually not made to sit still. When you sit for long periods, your body becomes inactive.

Your heart, brain, muscles, and liver all work much better when you exercise. The sitting position is also unnatural for us.

Millions of Americans suffer from neck and back pain caused in part by excessive sitting.

It needs to be investigated further how long you are allowed to sit still (before it becomes really bad for your health). For now, we’ll keep it to no longer than 60 minutes at a time as a guideline.

Whether a visit to the toilet or the coffee machine is enough to combat the adverse effects of prolonged sitting is also not yet clear, but at least it is better than nothing.

Replace sitting still with something more active

Another option is to see how you can replace sitting still with something active as much as possible.

For example, can you stand behind your laptop using a sit-stand desk or possibly a standing table?

Can you make a walking call to a colleague or a customer? Can you possibly hold walking meetings? Perhaps from a heavy-duty treadmill?

Get one of those chair bikes and pedal your legs while sitting at your computer? Do you perhaps prefer to lift weights while watching TV? Think carefully about what suits you.

Focus on standing rather than sitting

Almost half of all Americans do not meet the standard for healthy exercise. Sitting all day and walking for half an hour in the evening is not enough.

Good to know: It is estimated that the health gains from standing regularly are as significant as those from going to the gym 3 times a week.

After all, did you know that the energy consumption of standing is about 2 times that of sitting?

So try to stand as much as sit in a day, for example, by purchasing a sit-stand desk.

Doing housework and gardening like mowing the lawn also increases the number of hours you spend standing instead of sitting.

Some tips for getting more exercise

Try to get at least 2.5 hours of exercise each week (moderate exercise or strenuous exercise).

Some tips for getting at least 2.5 hours of exercise per week:

  • Dance and move with your kids while you clean up (put on your favorite music for some extra vibes and energy)
  • Walk into town and walk to the supermarket
  • Dance from the stove to the refrigerator while cooking
  • Park the car some distance from where you need to be and do the rest of the distance on foot
  • Carry your groceries yourself (instead of putting them on the bike rack or in the basket of your bike)
  • Do knee bends while brushing teeth
  • Dance for a few minutes to your favorite music between 2 household chores
  • Go to work by bike instead of by car

How much exercise is enough?

The goal is to exercise at least 2.5 hours (150 minutes) weekly. You then exercise moderately vigorously or intensely.

That means your heart rate goes up, and your breathing gets faster. So it’s best if you spread those 150 minutes out over the week.

In fact, children and adolescents up to 18 are advised to get one hour of moderate-intensity exercise per day.

Fortunately, most children are naturally agile, although sometimes you have to actively direct them outside.

In addition to the 2.5 hours of exercise for adults, doing muscle and bone strengthening exercises twice a week is also recommended.

Such as doing abdominal exercises, lifting weights, and pushing yourself up for a stronger torso and arms.

Bone strengthening is achieved by doing something that involves putting pressure on your bones, preferably even small shocks. For example, exercises that involve standing, such as squats and rope jumping, have this effect.

Climbing stairs, walking, and jogging are also part of this.

Good to know: Muscles are important not only because they give you strength and balance. They also do something with your calorie consumption.

The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn, even if you are sitting still!

For people over 50, it is also recommended to do balance exercises. For example, consider yoga, meditation, or one-legged knee bends (with one hand loosely resting on the back of a chair or table).

Exercise is also good for your mental well-being

Getting enough exercise will make you feel more confident and comfortable in your own skin.

It promotes relaxation and reduces possible sleep problems and mood disorders.

Sports and exercise also protect you from depression, which is the case in both children and adults.

Tip: Add balance exercises to your activities, such as certain yoga poses or brushing your teeth on one leg.

How to find enough motivation and drive to exercise regularly?

How do you make it more likely that you will actually move more and at least enough?

There are some interesting things known about that by now.

According to an Australian study, for example, dog owners appear to be one and a half times more likely to meet healthy exercise standards.

In other words, on average, a dog owner walks their dog for at least about 2.5 hours a week, regardless of weather conditions.

In addition, dogs entice you to play and pet them. Thus, they stimulate the release of the pleasure hormone serotonin. This, of course, is also good for your health! But not everyone sees fit or can get a dog…

Joining a friend, family member, or neighbor as an exercise buddy is also a smart move. You’re less likely to cancel if you have a moment blocked off in the calendar to go exercise or do sports together.

In addition, you associate it more with fun because you can talk together and possibly suffer a little together (that also creates a bond).

Do you sometimes have a hard time finding the motivation you need? Then find someone to exercise or sport with and meet up with them at set times. That way, you’ll make it more likely that you’ll actually do it!

Making love is healthy

A good lovemaking session is an effective form of exercise that reduces your feelings of stress.

Sex (usually) provides relaxation and a good night’s sleep.

Research from the U.S. New England Research Institute in Massachusetts shows that men who have sex twice a week are less likely to suffer a fatal heart attack than men who have sex less than twice a week.

Take advantage of technological advances

Let yourself be supported by the available technology.

A pedometer, for example, can be enormously motivating. You can also set your goal high enough right away, like 10,000 steps a day, for example.

You can also first take a week to see how many steps you now average per day, add a thousand or two thousand per day, and make that your goal for the coming month.

Such an element of play or competition makes exercise more fun, and it increases the likelihood that you will stick with it.

Most smartphones have something of a pedometer on them.

Preparation is motivating

Finally, seeing weights, walking shoes, sportswear, running shoes, fitness equipment, swimming gear, balance balls, and so on makes you more likely to use them.

For example, are you planning to run the next day?

Then get your running shoes ready by the door, well in sight.

Working from home? When you close your computer, put a few weights in plain sight on the sofa or on your great heavy-duty office chair at the end of the day.  Then you’ll be reminded of it automatically.

Benefits of exercise and developing a healthy active way of life: Conclusion

Never stop or reduce certain medications on your own because that can be dangerous.

Always discuss your desire to take less medication and start exercising more with your doctor or specialist first. Have regular check ups.

But make sure to enjoy the benefits of exercise and developing a healthy active way of life. The changes you will see will astonish you!

Tip: Apart from an active lifestyle, we should also pay attention to our food and avoid added sugars: Why Is Sugar Dangerous? Harmful and Hidden Side Effects Explained

About Heather Campbell

As a nutritionist, my field of specialization is science-based nutritional advice but more importantly, it is my goal to share capturing and inspiring stories, examples and solutions which can help plus-size individuals overcome their specific difficulties. Read More