The Benefits of Exercise

Adding exercises into one’s daily routines can change their whole lifestyle. Many people look at exercise as being something just for people who want to lose weight or to add muscle and bulk up, but there are a great deal of benefits that can be received from exercising regularly. Gaining muscle and losing fat are the two most popular reasons that people make their way to the local gym, but they only make up a small portion of the benefits that you may receive through exercise. There are many ways that exercise can improve one’s quality of life other than just weight management.

According to a Surgeon General’s report titled, Physical Activity and Health, “despite common knowledge that exercise is healthful, more than 60 percent of American adults are not regularly active, and 25 percent of the adult population are not active at all” (Surgeon General). Exercising benefits you both mentally and physically and is as good for your head as it is for your heart. First off exercise has a major impact mentally on one’s self-esteem. Self-esteem is related more closely to body image than any other single element of self (Fox 411-418) The saying of, “If you look good, you feel good” can be applied in this situation.

I know that personally when I feel I look good or receive a compliment saying I look good than I have more confidence throughout my day. With the improvement of physical features through exercise comes an improved perception of one’s self and therefore an increase in self-esteem. (Fox 411-418) Kenneth Fox, the author of “The Influence of Physical Activity on Mental Well-Being” also has another theory on how exercise can have a positive effect on self-esteem. Fox says exercise can have a positive impact on self-esteem based on mastery and self-determination.

(Fox 411-418) For most people, including myself, it feels great to have control of something. With self-determination and regular exercise we have control over our health and the way our body looks. I have also experienced an increase in my confidence in another way. While in high school I was an athlete and I used sports as my main way of exercise. While in sports I felt as sense of belonging and made many of my closest friends through working out together. As a team we would exercise together, and in return we would notice each others results and build even more confidence off of the compliments we were receiving.

Another mental benefit that exercise can provide is a distraction for one’s mind and it helps you to stop worrying as much. If someone continually worries then it is likely to increases his or her stress and may lead to a case of depression. Exercise can provide a distraction or “time-out” from the stressors and worries of everyday life. (Dayley) While exercising you are able to concentrate on the exercise and the form of the exercise only. While working out you learn to control your breathing pattern and take deeper and slower breaths and in return calming you down.

As a teenager I was lucky to have an uncle who was a certified personal trainer. My uncle would workout with me at least three days a week to ensure that I learned proper form while lifting weights. If you use the wrong form while performing certain lifts than you greatly increase the chances of an injury. I can remember my uncle’s voice to this day telling me to go slower and to concentrate more. He insisted that I visualize the muscle working and to concentrate on my breathing.

At the time I would get annoyed by him constantly criticizing my every movement and facial expression, but now that I look back on it he taught me the best way to cope with stress. What I mean is that while I was in the gym, the little worries of a teenager, which at the time seemed like a huge deal, meant nothing to me. I was able to take my mind off everyday worries such as girls, grades, and high school drama. I have used exercise to cope with stress ever since then and I am able to take those skills of concentration and positive visualization with me into my everyday workload.

By staying positive it helps me look at situations as a challenge and a learning experience instead of letting myself stress over them. The following quote is from the Division of Psychiatry, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts and is as follows, “the use of distracting activities as a means of coping with depression has been shown to have a more positive influence on the management of depression and to result in a greater reduction in depression than the use of more self-focus or introspective activities such as journal keeping or identifying positive and negative adjectives that describe one’s current mood.

(Craft) Exercise has been a proven way to help cope with or prevent a person’s depression and it gives one time to take a deep breath and not worry as much. The last mental benefit that I will discuss is how anxiety can be treated with exercise. Anxiety disorders are very common in the United States and must be dealt with everyday. Many people who have anxiety disorders become anxious for no reason. Even people without anxiety disorders face the feeling of being anxious on a day-to-day basis. Being anxious is not always a bad thing and can be beneficial if handled well.

If someone gets too anxious though it may mess with their daily functions and cause an increase in stress. I know that if I am anxious and can’t seem to concentrate then a good workout is the cure for me. Working out is like taking a break from your day to work on yourself and it takes little to no thought. When my heart and mind are racing due to too much anxiety I lift weights and exercise to get rid of that energy and to calm myself down. Usually people are given medication but exercise has been a successful treatment for the people who don’t like medication or even the average person who deals with anxiety on their own.

Types of exercises such as yoga or other meditation programs have allowed people to slow their breathing down and help relax their minds. While mental benefits alone are reason enough to exercise there are still more physical benefits I would like to discuss. Everyone knows working out is a way to manage weight and strength, but what are some other benefits they may affect our mortality? Exercise can greatly reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. Heart disease and stroke are two of the leading causes of death in the United States.

When a person regularly exercise’s they increase both the thickness and the strength of their heart muscle. (Raymond) the increase in size and strength allows the heart to pump more blood through the body with less effort. Imagine that you never workout or even walk at a fast pace. Now if you were to do a high intensity movement or exercise it would cause your heart to pump faster and overwork itself. An example of this would be sprinting the track and while doing so you are making the, “huffing and puffing” noise and then towards the end you collapse.

Someone that exercises builds up their heart strength and endurance over time and is able to supply their body with enough blood to pump through their system while they run without causing them to overdue themselves. This affects many people’s quality of life by giving them a stronger heart to keep their bodies going. In contrast to helping your cardiovascular system, exercise is also a healthy way to lower your blood pressure without the use of daily medications. While working out we know that our heart rate and breathing increases due to our demand for oxygen.

This makes most people assume that when you workout your blood pressure actually is increased. Well those people are correct on the fact that your blood pressure does increase while doing exercising, but it does in fact return to normal and may be decreased. (Raymond) Since exercise strengthens your heart it allows you to not work as hard to supply your body oxygen and blood. Then when your body calms down it leaves less stress on your arteries, therefore lowering your blood pressure. My own personal goals for exercise have been to gain weight and achieve an athletic and muscular build.

I have seen many physical benefits such as becoming stronger throughout my entire body and this has allowed me to do daily tasks as well as my job easier. I build homes during the summer and I wait tables during the school year. By being stronger I am able to save steps by carrying heavier items from point A to point B. While working out one will increase their flexibility and this strengthens their ligaments and helps prevent injury. This is particularly important in the mobility of people of middle to elderly ages.

As we age our muscles and ligaments weaken making us more vulnerable to things such as a loss of balance, which could lead to a fall. Plato, a classical Greek philosopher, once said “Lack of activity destroys the good condition of every human being, while movement and methodical physical exercise save it and preserve it”. Plato said that before there was scientific research that could show how exercise preserved and benefited out body. Through research I have discussed the mental benefits one can receive through exercise such as an increase in self-esteem, a decrease in depression, and a decrease in anxiety.

With these mental benefits from exercise we are able to go throughout our day in a more energetic and organized manner. I personally use exercise as my remedy for all of the stressful situations life brings us college students every day. The mental focuses I have learned from my workouts have taught me discipline and control in other areas of my life. As far as the physical benefits one can receive from exercising other than the gain of strength and weight management I have discussed how it can reduce the risk of a cardiovascular disease as well as lower your blood pressure.

These are just some of the physical benefits that will allow us live longer and healthier lives. There are many ways to improve one’s quality of life, but exercise has played an important role in the quality of my life by giving me the mental and physical skills to improve my health and overall living standard. Remember Rome wasn’t built in one day, so start slow when using exercise to improve your quality of life. Works Cited Raymond, Stainback. “Does exercise effect the circulatory system?. ” Texas Heart Insitute. St. Luke’s , 01 NOV 2008. Web. 15 Sep 2012.

Fox , Kenneth. “The Influence of Physical Activity on Mental Well-Being. ” Public Health Nutrion. 2. (199): 411-418. Web. 16 Sep 2012. Craft, Lynette. “The benefits of Exercise for the Clinically Depressed. ” The Primary Care Companion. The Association of Medicine and Psychiatry, 2004. Web. 16 Sep 2012. General, Surgeon. “Physical Activity and Health. ” Center for Chronic Disease. N. p. , 17 NOV 1999. Web. 18 Sep 2012. Dayley, Amanda. “Exercise Therapy and Mental Health in Clinical Populations. ” Advances in Psychiatric Treatment. N. p. , 2002. Web. 18 Sep 2012.