6 Surprising Benefits of an Active Lifestyle
It probably seems everyone is telling you to lead an active lifestyle—your doctor, your spouse, billboards, magazines and even me. There’s a reason it’s such a popular topic. It’s not just because a fit body looks great; the advantages of regular exercise and movement filter into every area of your life. Here are just six of the many benefits of an active lifestyle:
Benefit #1: Endothelial health
If you’ve been following the Heart Health Initiative, you know that endothelial health is the basis of a healthy cardiovascular system, and exercise supports the health of the endothelium. Exercise creates “shear stress,” or an increase of the flow of blood within the arteries; shear stress is a potent stimulus for Nitric Oxide (NO) production. In human research, exercise training improved vasodilation (opening of the blood vessels) not only in the active muscle group, but also as a systemic response when a relatively large muscle mass was activated regularly. So, the more a person exercises, the more NO the body produces, and the greater the benefit throughout the body.
Benefit #2: Increased energy
About 25 percent of the population experiences fatigue. If that number includes you, consider adding regular exercise to your routine. Researchers at the University of Georgia found that sedentary people who experience fatigue can increase their energy levels by 20 percent and reduce fatigue by 65 percent, simply by engaging in regular, low-intensity exercise. As the authors of the study explained, their “finding suggests that exercise acts directly on the central nervous system to increase energy and reduce fatigue.”
Benefit #3: Weight management
Paired with a healthy diet, exercise can help you reach or maintain a healthy weight. On the emotional side, a healthy weight can help you feel good about yourself and increase your confidence; on the physiological side, weight management is one of the most important components of maintaining health. According to the National Institutes of Health, a healthy weight supports heart health and general well-being.
Benefit #4: Mood
Have you ever noticed that you feel happier after a good workout? That’s because exercise supports a positive mood. According to the Mayo Clinic, regular exercise releases neurotransmitters and endorphins, or “feel-good brain chemicals”; reduces other immune system chemicals that have a negative impact on mood; and increases body temperature, which may have a calming effect on the body. Not only that, but exercise offers a great opportunity to disconnect from the stressors in your life.
Benefit #5: Blood sugar
Exercise can help support healthy blood sugar levels that are already in a normal range. Exercising muscles use more glucose—the sugar present in the bloodstream—which can help support healthy blood sugar levels. Regular physical activity can also help the body use insulin efficiently, which helps your body use glucose before and after your workout.
Benefit #6: Enhanced sex life
The benefits of exercise also extend to the bedroom. Exercise increases genital blood flow in both men and women, supporting sexual arousal and function. And since exercise also helps with weight maintenance, regular physical activity can boost your confidence during sex—not to mention help you maintain stamina and energy.
These are just a few of the many ways an active lifestyle impacts your life, especially when paired with other positive lifestyle choices like proper nutrition. What benefits can you add? Please share in the comments below, or connect with me on Twitter or Facebook.