Why exercise matters

August 30, 2015

Originally published on Jess Being Jess



So, do you move your body every day? Get your butt off the couch and get going? You really should. 


Wait Jess… You just told me that I can’t out exercise my fork. Sure did. And it’s true. But you should exercise anyway.


I know, I know. I don’t always want to either. Some days it seems easier to ditch it… After a long, crazy day or on a rare, quiet morning or in the middle of a great book or movie… Forcing yourself up and at it can be a chore.  Lazy is easier – physically and mentally.


But, that said, it’s still important to exercise on a regular basis. And by regular basis, I mean most days of the week.




Did you see the Pixar movie Wall-E? Most people remember the love story between Wall-E and EVE. 


But what struck me were the passive, rotund, disempowered people lolling around in their motorized Barcaloungers. When circumstances finally forced them to move without mechanical assistance, years of inactivity almost – this is Pixar after all – almost, left human kind unable to respond. 


Sure, it seems like a frivolous sideline to a story line about ceding power and humanity to technology and large corporations. But is it really?


Today, we are moving less and less. In the past 44 years, physical activity in the United States has declined by 32 percent. If current trends continue, we are on track for a 46 percent drop by 2030. Inactivity is becoming the norm.


Some say that decreased physical labor is a sign of progress and wealth. After all, we can afford time saving devices and increased leisure. In the US, we – for the most part – no longer toil in fields, walk to work or school or otherwise exert ourselves physically to meet our daily needs. Most of us spend the majority of our day sitting during our commute, during our workday and during our daily downtime. 


But the truth is, our bodies are designed for motion, not inactivity. 


Healthy bodies require periods of work followed by periods of rest and recovery. Inactivity prevents our muscles, our cardiovascular system and our other biological functions from operating at peak performance. In short, moving makes us healthier… whether we lose weight or not. 


In fact, recent studies – and headlines – have proclaimed that sitting is the new smoking. Prolonged sitting has been shown to increase disease, including various types of cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Moreover, the effects of sitting may not be overturned by working out a few times a week.


So, exercise is important. How much? Most health experts recommend at least 30 minutes of exercise 5 days a week, for a total of 2 and a half hours a week. With this type of schedule, researchers have found that exercise correlates with: 


•    Weight control (though not necessarily weight loss). Exercise – when combined with diet and rest – can help improve your metabolism and reduce metabolic syndrome and high blood sugar, leading to less fat storage. 
•    Improved mood. Exercise releases brain chemicals and endorphins that reduce stress and that encourage relaxation and wellbeing. That “runner’s high” we hear so much about really is a thing.
•    Increased energy. Exercise improves our circulation and our cardiovascular function, allowing for better oxygen and nutrient delivery throughout your body. Feeling groggy… a workout just might make you feel better than a nap.
•    Better sleep. Just don’t exercise too close to bedtime! (Because increased energy...)


Basically, exercise makes you healthier and happier. It adds life and zip to your days. Even if you don’t lose a pound. It helps you be a better you, wherever you are right now. 


So make the time… your mind and body will thank you.


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