1. Builds aerobic power
Your aerobic capacity is your body’s ability to work at maximum capacity by getting oxygen from the air to your body’s tissues. Ordinarily, people lose about 1 percent a year of their aerobic power. Both long-term and short-term exercise training studies show that you can cut this loss in half.
2. Reduces blood pressure
Exercise helps reduce your blood pressure, in part, by attacking the plaque in your arteries. As the arteries widen, the blood flows through more freely, and your blood pressure eventually starts to drop. Plus, the stronger your heart muscle gets, the greater its ability to pump blood through the arteries, which also helps to reduce your blood pressure.
3. Lowers Type 2 diabetes risk
By engaging in regular physical exercise, you improve your body’s ability to metabolize glucose, the key to staving off this disease.
5. Reduces body fat
The more you exercise, the more you are able to work off your body fat because muscle “burns off” more calories, effectively speeding up your metabolism.
6. Keeps bones strong
Another normal age-related change is the loss of bone mineral strength. Here again, the magic number of a 1 percent loss per year seems to be the considered wisdom of how fast our body’s bones get thinner and weaker. The specific form of exercise required for bone strength involves resistance training in which you lift weights.
7. Builds muscle mass
Resistance training also builds your muscles. In fact, the tension of your muscles against your bones is what also helps your bones get the maximum benefit of weight lifting. If you don’t engage in regular weight-lifting, you’ll lose muscle strength at the rate of – guess what—1 percent per year. If you do, you can cut this – guess again—in half. Keeping your muscles strong also helps you stay more aerobically fit and helps you maintain a healthy lean (or fat-free) body mass.
8. Improves breathing
Aging affects the tissues of the lung in some ways that can’t be changed by exercise. However, exercise can improve your breathing by strengthening the muscles that help your lungs open up to bring in oxygen and compress to push out carbon dioxide. Exercise also improves the efficiency with which oxygen permeates the cells of your body through its effects on aerobic capacity.
9. Boosts your energy
Because your body is functioning more efficiently, you’ve got more oxygen to fuel your body’s cells. You also feel fewer aches and pains and have greater strength. As a result, you can go about your daily activities feeling less fatigued, stressed, and weary.
10. Reduces the risk of arthritis
Arthritis occurs due to abnormalities in the cartilage and outgrowth of bones in the joints. Unlike the other physical benefits of exercise, reducing the chances of arthritis doesn’t depend on heavy duty aerobic activity or even weight training. In fact, you may actually heighten your risk of arthritis if you do too much of the wrong kind of exercise. Running on the pavement, particularly in shoes that aren’t appropriately cushioned, can cause you to be more likely to get arthritis. Instead, you need to engage in stretching and flexibility training through yoga, Tai Chi, or other ways to increase the range of movement of your joints. This will lower your risk of injury through muscle tears or torn ligaments, and in the process protect your joints from damage caused by overuse.
11. Improves sex life
Keeping your muscles active through use helps promote the demands placed on your endocrine glands to produce more hormones. With more muscle mass comes greater stimulation to produce androgens which help both men and women maintain their sexual functioning. You are also likely to feel more fit and be more fit, which in turn will benefit your interest in and ability to carry out sexual activity.
12. Brings about better sleep
Exercise during the day benefits your sleep at night. The physical exertion you engage in during the day helps your body’s circadian rhythm keep in tune.
13. Improves mood
It’s a well-kept secret that people who exercise regularly also have lower risk of depression. Aerobic exercise improves your mood by causing your body’s endorphins to kick in. These are the natural “feel good” neurotransmitters that start to exert their effects after about 20 minutes of training. These regular exercise-related boosts eventually improve your overall mental health over the long term.
14. Lowers anxiety
Related to exercise’s effects on mood are its effects on your levels of anxiety. As your levels of endorphins increase, your feelings of worry also start to diminish. When you exercise, you also refocus your attention from your daily problems to the workout itself.
15. Feels like fun
If you find the kind of exercise that fits your personality and motivational needs, you can actually have a good time while your body does the work. Whatever your exercise style, once you get into a routine, you’ll find that the activity itself becomes rewarding. Perhaps it’s those endorphins or the benefits of social support from your gym-mates.
16. Reduces absenteeism
By improving your overall health, exercise can help you ward off both acute and chronic illness. You’ll get fewer colds and be less prone to the flu.
17. Boosts memory
The effects of exercise on many of your bodily systems ultimately pays off in improving your cognitive functioning. Regular physical exercise helps your neurons stay in shape particularly in the memory areas of your brain. You don’t even have to exert yourself that much to experience this memory boost. Moderate walking can help your brain’s memory center, the hippocampus, maintain its health and vitality. Memory also benefits from a general lowering of cortisol, the stress hormone, associated with the improved mood and anxiety levels you experience from your regular workouts.
18. Builds intelligence
Along with memory, your intellectual skills benefit from regular physical activity. As oxygen flows more freely to your brain, not only does your hippocampus benefit but so does the part of your brain involved in planning and reasoning (the prefrontal cortex).
19. Lowers dementia risk
Exercise lowers your chances for developing dementia based on cardiovascular illness because you’re improving the flow of blood throughout your body, including your brain.