Food and Recipe: “Amazing Exercise benefits that aren’t about Weight Loss” [Part 1] by Eno Akpan

healthy livingAs much as FoodHood Cuisine promotes good food we also promote healthy living, below is an article on the benefits of exercise extracted from MyFitnessPal [endorsed by FoodHood] the world’s largest fitness community engaged in healthy living.

While most of us are aiming for max calorie burn at the gym, there are numerous other physical and psychological benefits of exercise. Before getting into those amazing benefits of exercise, it’s important to understand how much of it is needed. The Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least:

Aerobic activity: 150 minutes per week of moderate aerobic activity [brisk walking, swimming, mowing the lawn] OR 75 minutes per week of vigorous activity [running, aerobic dancing], and…

Strength training: At least two sessions per week of strength training [heavy gardening, rock climbing, lifting weights].

When losing weight, calories out [from exercise and metabolism] must be greater than calories in [good consumed]. While it’s important to understand calories and portions in food, it can be discouraging to focus on how few calories are burned through exercise. The good news for you is that the benefits of exercise go beyond the calorie burn:

1. Relieves Stress & Anxiety. Exercise releases norepinephrine, which can regulate and reduce your stress response. It can also improve overall mood and alleviate depression through endorphins that provide feelings of euphoria. Yoga and Pilates also focus on proper breathing, which can be a coping mechanism for short- and long-term stress.

2. Improves Learning & Memory. Working out stimulates new neural growth patterns in the brain. Exercise causes the brain to release chemicals that may prevent the breakdown of the hippocampus, which is thought to prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

3. Improves Self-Esteem & Body Image. “You never regret a workout” is a popular motivational saying, and it’s quite true! The endorphin boost and sense of accomplishment attained post-workout improves self-worth. A combination of our physical gains (Think: more pronounced muscles, less body fat) and improved mood helps us feel better about ourselves.

4. Strengthens the Heart. Our cardiovascular system contains one of the most important muscles in the body, the heart. Just like the other muscles in the body, exercise improves the heart’s overall function and efficacy. When the cardiovascular system works efficiently, it provides more oxygen, nutrients and energy to your body throughout the day. If you’re feeling low in the middle of the workday, take a brief walk to get the heart pumping and blood flowing to boost your energy and performance.

5. Builds Stronger Bones. Our bones thin as we age, putting us at greater risk for osteoporosis and bone fractures that can reduce our quality of life. Weight-bearing (high- or low-impact) and muscle-strengthening exercises build and strengthen the bones as well as the muscles that surround them. Nonimpact exercises like yoga or tai chi can improve balance, posture and flexibility, which may reduce exercise-related injuries.

6. Promotes Quality Sleep. Exercise has been shown to reset the circadian rhythm. After a workout, the body’s internal temperature returns to baseline and signals the brain that it’s time for sleep. Try to give yourself at least an hour or two to wind down post-exercise, otherwise those endorphins can keep you going!

7. Provides a Bonding Experience with Loved Ones. With everyone buried in technology these days, it’s nice to have a reason to get out and enjoy the real world with friends and family. Take a class, walk your dogs, play a sport or go for a jog with your workout partner. Having a network of friends also helps keep you on track. It’s much easier to come up with excuses when you only have yourself to rely on.

To be continued… 

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