Exercise begins to have a positive effect almost as soon as you start. For
one thing, exercise makes your brain release "endorphins" — hormones that
make you feel good. This can help you enjoy the exercise and may improve your
mood for several hours after your workout. Another benefit is that your muscles,
having worked hard, can relax more easily. This helps you feel relaxed all
over. And, of course, you'll probably feel good about what you are doing for
The benefits of being in shape
In addition to the immediate rewards, there are many possible long-term benefits
to reap from a more active lifestyle. Over time, your muscles will get stronger.
Your heart and lungs will get stronger, too, and work more efficiently. Your
bones will become denser, helping to prevent osteoporosis. Endurance increases,
making most physical activities easier. And balance improves, lowering the
risk of falls and fractures as you get older. You are also likely to experience
less anxiety and depression and feel more self-assured.
Prevent and manage chronic diseases
Regular exercise can help PREVENT high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart
disease, type 2 diabetes, and, possibly, stroke. You are also taking steps
to reduce your risk of some forms of cancer, such as colon, breast, and prostate
cancers. Research has also shown that exercise benefits people with mild-to-moderate
Exercise can also help you manage certain chronic conditions, such as arthritis,
osteoporosis, heart disease, Alzheimer's disease, and depression. Further,
your blood pressure, cholesterol, and heart rate all may drop to healthier
levels if needed. Talk to your doctor about what is safe and best for you.
Exercise helps you shed extra pounds, particularly from fat, and, more importantly,
tone muscles to increase your body's fitness. You're likely to experience less
hunger. In addition, your metabolism will probably increase (the system that
regulates how many calories you burn while resting), making it easier to stay
"My doctor told me that I should exercise regularly, but I couldn't
have predicted all the ways that it would influence my life. Not only
do I feel better physically, but I am more outgoing, optimistic, and
feel better about myself than I did before I started."
-- Richard, age 49
Review Date: 3/12/2007
Reviewed By: Benjamin W. Van Voorhees, MD, MPH, Assistant Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics, The University of Chicago, Chicago, IL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
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