Fitness: what it is, health benefits and how to get started

Better physical fitness drastically reduces the risk of chronic diseases that develop over time, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and even cancer. “The one thing that will help prevent almost any kind of disease is fitness,” says Grayson Wickham, DPT, CSCS, founder of Movement Vault, a mobility and movement company in New York City.

In 2007, ACSM partnered with the American Medical Association to launch the Exercise Is Medicine initiative, with the goal of making physical activity assessment part of routine medical care and providing exercise resources to people of all skill levels. of skill. “The scientifically proven benefits of physical activity remain indisputable and can be as potent as any pharmaceutical agent in the prevention and treatment of a range of chronic diseases and medical conditions,” notes the initiative’s website.

Here is a breakdown of these benefits:

Exercise improves your mood

According to research, regular exercise has been shown to be a buffer against depression and anxiety. Additionally, other studies show that exercise can help manage symptoms of depression and treat it, notes a scientific article. Exercise can help reduce inflammation, which has been shown to be increased in people with depression; It’s also possible that physical activity promotes favorable changes in the brain as well, the researchers say.

Learn more about ways being fit boosts energy and mood

Exercise is good for sleep

Regular exercise can help you get a more restful sleep at night. Of the 34 studies included in a systematic review, 29 found that exercise improves sleep quality and is associated with longer sleep periods. It can help set the biological clock (so that you are alert and sleepy at appropriate times), create chemical changes in the brain that promote sleep, and, as indicated by past research, can relieve any anxiety that might otherwise keep you awake.

It’s worth noting, however, that high-intensity exercise performed too close to bedtime (within about an hour or two) can make sleep more difficult for some people and should be done early in the day.

Learn more about the intimate relationship between fitness and sleep

Exercise promotes long-term health

Exercise has been shown to improve brain and bone health, preserve muscle mass (so you don’t feel fragile with age), increase your sex life, improve gastrointestinal function, and reduce the risk of many diseases. , including cancer and stroke. Research involving more than 116,000 adults also showed that getting the recommended 150 to 300 minutes of physical activity per week reduced the risk of death from any cause by 19 percent.

Learn more about the amazing ways being fit improves your health

Fitness helps you manage chronic diseases

Exercise helps the body function and this includes managing other chronic health problems. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), if you have osteoarthritis, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, dementia, or have had a stroke or cancer, physical activity can help. Exercise can help reduce pain, improve insulin sensitivity and blood sugar control, promote mobility, improve heart health, reduce the risk of other chronic diseases, and play a role in good mental health.

If you have chronic illness and are looking to stay active or become more active, a walking routine is generally a safe place to start. “The vast majority of people don’t need their doctor’s permission to start walking, unless their doctor specifically told you they don’t want you to exercise,” says Sallis.

He says he wants more people to consider physical activity as a baseline and that: “You need to get permission from your doctor Not exercise, ”he says.

But if you have excessively shortness of breath, experience chest pain, or have other troubling symptoms, call your doctor.

Find out more about why being fit helps with chronic disease management

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