8 benefits of exercising

Improved balance is one of the many benefits of exercise. CONTRIBUTED
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Improved balance is one of the many benefits of exercise. CONTRIBUTED

One of the best gifts you’ll ever receive is one you give to yourself — the gift of being active. While you certainly know that exercise is good for you, do you know how good it really is?

Consider this: People who are active for about seven hours a week have a 40 percent lower risk of dying prematurely than those who fit in less than 30 minutes during a week, research shows.

“Exercise may help you live longer because it can fend off a long list of health problems, from heart disease and high blood pressure to type 2 diabetes and even some types of cancer,” says Andrew Purdy, an exercise physiologist with Kettering Weight Loss Solutions, part of Kettering Health Network. There are a number of reasons why you should routinely treat your body to exercise.

Stronger muscles and bones: Strength training by lifting weights or working out with elastic exercise bands builds and tones muscle. It can also speed up a sluggish metabolism and keep pounds from creeping on as you age.

Moreover, strength training — along with weight-bearing exercises such as dancing, jogging or brisk walking — increases bone density, which can help you avoid a broken hip or other fracture brought on by osteoporosis.

Better balance: Exercise that makes your legs stronger and improves your balance, like tai chi, helps reduce your risk of falling. Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries in the U.S.

Permanent weight loss: It's entirely possible to slim down simply by eating less. But lost pounds have a way of reappearing. Exercise is the best way to stop the cycle of losing and gaining weight.

A happier mood: Feeling stressed is your cue to be active. Exercise releases mood-elevating chemicals that ease tension. Plus, workouts can seem like play. Consider hiking a nearby trail, climbing a rock wall or playing tag with your kids.

Better arthritis control: While it may seem counterintuitive, moderate-intensity, low-impact aerobic exercise can actually help lessen the pain of achy joints and make managing arthritis easier.

Time well spent: Any exercise is better than none. But it's best if you do a combination of aerobic exercise, activities that get you breathing harder and your heart beating faster, and muscle-strengthening exercise. Here's how much you need of each:

Aerobic exercise: Aim for at least two hours and 30 minutes of moderate exercise (such as fast walking) every week. If you prefer vigorous exercise (such as jogging), do at least 1 hour and 15 minutes each week.

Muscle-strengthening exercise: Lift weights or do other muscle-building exercises at least two days a week. Work out all of your major muscle groups, including those in your arms, chest, back, stomach, hips and legs.

Kettering Health Network is a faith-based, not-for-profit healthcare system. The network has eight hospitals: Grandview, Kettering, Sycamore, Southview, Greene Memorial, Fort Hamilton, Kettering Behavioral Health and Soin.