Before I dive in, let me be clear. Exercise should not be used in place of prescribed medications that you need to manage chronic conditions, such as diabetes, cholesterol, hypertension, irregular heartbeats or anything of the nature. What the science clearly shows though, is that exercise is an effective preventative medicine that can prevent the onset of many of the leading illnesses in the U.S. In fact, the CDC lists “lack of physical exercise” as one of the four primary risk factors for chronic disease. Incidentally, the others are tobacco use, poor nutrition, and excessive alcoholic consumption.
So, what conditions may be avoidable, or less likely to develop if you engage in regular exercise that includes any combination of cardio, strength training and deep stretching?? The list is long:
- Chronic Inflammation
- Chronic Pain
- Heart Disease
- High Blood Pressure
- High Cholesterol
- Lung Disease
Exercise: Specific Ways it Improves Your Health
Exercise is considered pleiotropic, meaning that it has multiple beneficial effects on the body. It positively impacts brain function because it leads to better sleep. It also supports a healthy blood-brain barrier which is the group of blood vessels responsible for keeping pathogens and toxins out of the brain, and letting healthy cells and molecules reach the brain. Regular exercise also helps protect the neurons in the brain from inflammation and damage. Neuron damage has been correlated with Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s Disease, and Multiple Sclerosis.
Exercise benefits your musculoskeletal system in many ways as well. It strengthens muscles and bones putting you at less risk for low bone density (osteoporosis). It also keeps joints mobile and healthy, reducing the risk of arthritis. This therefore reduces your risk of falling as you age. For those who already have arthritis, exercise can reduce pain and inflammation.
There may be no treatment more underused than exercise when it comes to treating stress, anxiety, and depression. Exercise reduces levels of adrenaline and cortisol in the body. These are the hormones that cause stress and anxiety. At the same time, working out helps to increase your production of endorphins, which are your brain’s “feel good” neurotransmitters. As mentioned, exercise is pleiotropic, so this reduction in stress then aids in healthy digestion, better, sleep, and overall better mental health.
You’ll do your cardiovascular system a favor by working out regularly as well. Regular fitness routines help improve blood flow in your heart. By increasing the flow of oxygen-rich blood throughout your body, you can prevent the buildup of plaque in your arteries, which is a leading cause of heart disease.
Your respiratory system also benefits from a regular exercise routine. This is because when you’re walking, running, jogging, cycling, or lifting weights your lungs and heart are forced to work harder. After all, they must supply the oxygen that your muscles need. So, exercising is not only working your muscles, but also giving your lungs a workout, too.
Regular exercise also helps prevent obesity. Obesity is an epidemic in this country. There is nothing wrong with body positivity. However, being significantly overweight is not healthy. It causes stress on your heart, on your organs, on your joints, muscles, and bones. Obesity rarely occurs in a vacuum. It is almost always found in conjunction with other chronic illnesses or conditions including high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol, and more. No one should be ashamed of their body. But the science is clear that carrying extreme amounts of excess weight puts your health, and even your life at risk.
Get Help Starting an Exercise Routine
If you’ve been a bit of a couch potato, since the pandemic hit, don’t beat yourself up. It happened to the best of us. But it is time to get back on track and prioritize health. Reach out to an active friend or family member. Schedule a consultation with a personal trainer, or use a streaming video at home to ease yourself back in. It doesn’t matter how you start, it’s just important that you do start. But don’t just take it from me. Even doctors will tell you that prevention is the best medicine. And that’s exactly what exercise is: preventative medicine.
About SY Performance
SY Performance offers in-person and hybrid training at Conquer All Things Fitness Studio, located at 1218 Magnolia Blvd in Burbank. SY Performance was founded by Burbank-based celebrity personal trainer Scott Yonehiro. Yonehiro created and launched the first “90 Day Body Transformation Program” in 2010. To date, thousands of individuals have completed the program, which utilizes a proprietary combination of science-based techniques coupled with fitness, nutrition, and mindset exercises to help individuals of all ages lose weight, reduce body fat, and increase muscle.