If you are reading this article, chances are that you are looking for motivation to get up NOW and exercise. If only we could program our bodies to feel exercise pangs as we do when we are hungry, then there would not be any problems getting up and exercising. Unfortunately, this doesn’t occur initially. (However, after you maintain frequent exercise, you will probably develop cravings to exercise when your next workout is due.) Here are a few reasons why exercise is important:
4 Reasons Why Exercise is a Must
1. Increased Strength- Although an increase in strength is obvious when you workout for a long period of time, it may not be so obvious that the increase can happen soon. In fact, researchers have used special techniques to show that there is an immediate increase in neural activity after a bout of exercise (Widrick 2002). These adaptations include stronger signals from your brain to contract your muscles, and muscles respond by contracting more muscle fibers at one time. One workout can increase your strength for up to 2 weeks (Gabriel 1991)!
2. Release of Endorphins- Exercise as a medication has more meaning than you realize. Endorphins resemble opiates and are natural pain relievers that are released during excitement, pain, death, orgasm and exercise. This “natural morphine” gives us a sense of power, control and improved mood. In fact, a prescription of exercise is now approved for treatment of major depressive disorder. The good news is that it doesn’t take huge amounts of exercise to experience these benefits. These endorphins are also responsible for an improvement in sleep on workout days, and an overall better self-image. So, enjoy a natural high without the side effects!
3. Strengthen Immune System- Current scientific evidence supports the impression that regular exercise increases resistance to infections such as the common cold. White blood cells and lymphocytes, which are the cells that fight infection, are increased during moderate exercise (McCarthy and Dale, 1988). Exercise causes “troops” to be immediately released to fight infectious invaders. In addition, many studies have shown that those who are more committed to regular exercise have fewer infectious episodes that those who are less committed. However, one must be careful not to overtrain, because this is associated with an increase in upper respiratory tract infections after exercise (Nieman et al 1990). Forget vitamins and medication for immune defense. Get up and sweat!
4. Increased Metabolism- Energy expenditure and the fat burning mechanisms of your body are active during resistance exercises (Ormsbee et al 2007). In other words, your fat burning engines don’t need a few workouts to turn on! As soon as you start exercising, and for some time after you are burning fat (Ormsbee et al. 2007)! This is key to weight loss, as every minute of exercise is allowing you to expend calories thus reduce body fat %, immediately.
Gabriel D., Kroll W. Isometric successive induction resistance exercise. Clinical Kinesiology. 1991; 45: 30-37.
McCarthy D., & Dale, M. The leukocytosis of exercise. A review and model. Sports Medicine 1988: 6, 333-363.
Nieman D., Johanssen L., Lee J., Arabatzis K. Infectious episodes in runner before and after the Los Angeles Marathon. Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness. 1990: 30, 316-328.
Ormsbee M., Thyfault J., Johnson E., Kraus R., Choi M., and Hickner, R. Fat metabolism and acute resistance exercise in trained men. Journal of Applied Physiology. 2007: 102, 1767-1772.
Widrick J., Stelzer J., Shoepe T, et al. Functional properties of human muscle fibers after short-term resistance exercise training. American Journal of Physiology 2002: R408-416.