Exercise is pretty awesome. It helps you get stronger, leaner, and healthier. You know that already. Yet fitness is even better for you when you design a well-rounded exercise program. This includes:
- Aerobic Exercise
- Resistance Training
- Flexibility Training
- And Balance Improvement Exercises
In a study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise in December 2007, scientists found that older adults who engage in the above forms of exercise are better able to stay not just physically fit as they age but mentally fit as well.
Here are some of the most amazing benefits of incorporating these types of exercises into your workout plan for a well-rounded approach to long-term health.
Improve Health Markers
Not only does exercise feel good and help elevate mood, but it’s scientifically shown to help guard against disease and boost your immune system. One of the main benefits of exercise is to help control your health, often without the use of medications or by limiting prescriptions. Eventually, through continued exercise, you may even be able to wean yourself from certain medications you’re already on (with your physician’s approval, of course).
Take a look at this short list of issues that could be improved with a regular, well-rounded exercise program. If you’re not yet exercising, see if these don’t help motivate you to get moving:
- High blood sugar—regular exercise improves your body’s sensitivity to insulin, which helps you more easily manage your blood sugar levels.
- Type 2 Diabetes—Type 2 diabetes can be more easily managed or even prevented with the help of exercise. Resistance training allows your muscles to use insulin and allows insulin to be used more effectively.
- Body weight—a regular exercise program, coupled with a healthy diet, helps reduce body fat and maintain a healthy weight.
- Blood lipids—according to a study by the American Diabetes Association, a moderate exercise program, which includes resistance training, along with a healthy diet designed to induce weight loss, is an effective means of controlling blood sugar, especially for patients with type 2 diabetes. And, it can also significantly reduce the severity or occurrence of high cholesterol, heart disease, and stroke.
- Blood pressure—with the healthy heart benefits of exercise, you’ll be less likely to have to worry about blocked arteries and high blood pressure.
- Reduce stress—exercise helps keep stress hormones at bay as well. Less stress means you can burn off fat more easily and allow your nervous system to rest.
Finding Functional Fitness for Everyday Activities
You can think of functional fitness as exercising with a specific purpose in mind. It uses exercises to strengthen the muscles you need to perform everyday tasks. For example, you may want to be strong enough to walk upstairs as you carry groceries into the house. So, you might want to work on lunges to strengthen your legs and knees, as well as build some upper body and arm/shoulder strength, so you can successfully complete a trip to the grocery store without worry or assistance.
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Some of the areas functional fitness address include:
- Core stability
- Range of motion
By following a well-rounded exercise program, you’ll work on each area and strengthen your body to help more easily manage your daily movements and improve your ability to remain self-sufficient.
The vast benefits of a well-rounded exercise program don’t stop with improvements to your physical health. Mental health is also greatly affected. Research shows that a regular exercise program helps not only relieve depression, but helps people remain depression-free on a long-term basis. Exercise itself releases endorphins, which are nature’s “happy pills.” Add in the benefits of reduced stress and anxiety plus a boost in self-esteem, and you have just what the doctor ordered—without the medication.
The Value of a Well-Rounded Exercise Program
Now that you know some of the many benefits of a well-rounded exercise program, you need to know that to keep reaping the benefits, it’s crucial to continue with a moderate exercise regimen. For life. You certainly don’t have to exercise exclusively at the gym. What’s most important is to stay active—whether through a formal program or an abundance of moderately strenuous leisurely activities. Aim for at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week of some form of exercise, and be sure to include resistance training at least three times a week for significant benefits along with your aerobic exercise and flexibility and balance training.