Benefits Of Physical Exercise

Physical exercise is any activity involving the body that improves or maintains physical fitness and health in general. There are several benefits of physical exercise. It strengthens our muscles and the cardiovascular system, hones athletic skills, and helps in losing or maintaining weight. If a person does physical exercise on a regular basis, it results in the improvement of his/her immune system, and protects him/her to some extent from heart disease, cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes and obesity. Its other benefits include betterment of mental health and prevention of depression.

Physical exercises are broadly divided into three categories: flexibility exercises like stretching, which improve the range of motion of muscles and joints; aerobic exercises like walking, swimming, cycling, running, etc. that boos cardiovascular endurance; and anaerobic exercises like such as weight training, which increase muscle strength. Each of these categories benefits us in different ways.

Among the numerous benefits of physical exercise are maintenance of physical fitness and an optimum weight level, formation of a healthy bone density, stronger muscles, better immune system, and improved mobility of joints. Physical exercise also boosts physiological well-being and reduces surgical risks. It also benefits our health by bringing down our levels of cortisol, a stress hormone that builds fat in the abdominal region, and is responsible for a number of health problems, both physical and psychological.

It has been observed that regular aerobic exercise often prevent or treat serious chronic conditions like high blood pressure, obesity, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, insomnia, and depression. It seems strength training can lead to burning of energy that persists for almost 24 hours after the training. However, the benefits offered by them are fewer than what aerobic exercises can offer as far as cardiovascular problems are concerned.

It has not yet been ascertained if vigorous exercise benefits a person more than moderate exercise. According to some research studies, vigorous exercise done by healthy persons can increase opioid peptides, as well as production of testosterone and growth hormone, and these benefits are not available in such generous amounts with moderate exercise.

Physical exercise can also boost cognitive functioning by improving hippocampus-dependent spatial learning, and enhancing synaptic plasticity and neurogenesis. Furthermore, physical exercise may act as a protective agent in several neurodegenerative and neuromuscular diseases. It reduces the possibility of developing dementia.

Other benefits of physical exercise are related to cognition as it can raise levels of nerve growth factors, which support the survival and growth of a number of neuronal cells.

Both aerobic and anaerobic exercises increase the mechanical efficiency of the heart. While the former increases cardiac volume, strength training increases myocardial thickness. These changes are usually beneficial if they take place because of exercise.

However, benefits of physical exercise vary from person to person. It has been noted that there is often a huge variation in individual response to training. While many people will witness a moderate increase in endurance by doing aerobic exercise, there would be others who will almost double their oxygen uptake. And some people will receive no benefits at all from the exercise. Similarly, weight training will result in noticeable muscle growth in only a few people, while many will acquire stronger muscles.

This genetic variation is what sets athletes apart from common people. Studies have revealed that physical exercise in middle age can improve physical ability in the later stages of life.