I’ve been exercising for years, and recently a friend of mine went on a really healthy diet. She stopped exercising, but she lost weight and looks great. I’m thinking that if I can stick to a healthy eating plan, I can give up exercising and have a lot more free time. What do you think?
There isn’t any doubt that diet plays a critical role in your overall health – the way you look, how much you weigh and what percentage of fat versus muscle your body is carrying.
However, the benefits you can see aren’t the only ones that matter. There are medically proven benefits to exercising that I would ask you to seriously consider before giving up your workouts. To this end, I refer to the top five documented health benefits*:
There is a large body of evidence that suggests exercise may decrease the prevalence of colon cancer and endometrial cancer.
Exercise also helps with osteoarthritis and obesity; it has been reported to help people with migraine headaches and fibromyalgia.
Middle-aged men and women who have physically demanding jobs or are recreationally active have less coronary artery disease than their less active peers.
Studies of clinical trials reveal that supervised exercise can reduce mortality rates for people with heart disease.
Several studies suggest that exercising even once a week can mean considerable reductions in mortality and improved health compared with people who have a more sedentary lifestyle.
In addition to the physical benefits of exercise, aerobic exercise is also associated with improvements in mental wellbeing:
Studies reveal that compared with sedentary individuals, active people are more likely:
To be better adjusted
To perform better on tests of cognitive functioning
To exhibit reduced cardiovascular responses to stress
To report fewer symptoms of anxiety and depression
To have increased self-confidence and self-esteem
Despite the positive physical and mental health benefits of exercise, long-term adherence to exercise is very poor. Only an estimated 50 percent of all people who start an exercise program continue for more than six months. In our next column we’ll focus on ways not only to start a fitness program but, most importantly, to stick with it!