Most people begin a workout regimen as a way to lose weight. However, many addiitonal health benefits go hand in hand with exercise. In fact the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that at least 2.5 hours of physical activity per week can reduce the risk of disease.
Women are far LESS likely to meet the CDC’s weekly physical activity recommendation than men. If the sheer mention of exercise’s ability to reduce the risk of disease was not enough to convince you to get moving, lets dive deeper into some of the evidence behind the claim.
Lower Risk of Dementia
Dementia is a disease that all people young and old fear. We all shiver at the idea of loosing our memory. The National Center for Biotechnology Information has suggested that women are at higher risk for dementia. So, it should come as a relief to know that small exercises can greatly reduce your risk of dementia. How does this work? Well, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, any form of regular physical activity can improve brain function dramatically. Regular physical activity increases blood and oxygen flow to the brain, which can promote growth of new brain cells, effectively combating dementia.
Lower Cancer Risk
Cancer is another disease that everybody wants to avoid. One in eight women will develop invasive breast cancer in their lifetime. In 2007 a study proved that exercise was a crucial step in preventing and reducing the effects of breast cancer. As little as 1.25 to 2.5 hours per week of brisk walking reduced a woman’s risk of breast cancer by 18%. Walking 10 hours per week reduced the risk a little more. Obesity after menopause is another risk factor for breast cancer. Why? It’s simple, high levels of estrogen, which is stored in fat, can increase your risk of cancer. After menopause estrogen levels usually drop in women, but in obese women these levels are higher. So exercising and maintaining a healthy weight both decrease your risk of breast cancer. What better reason to get moving?
Improve Bone Mass
Another factor that is commonly overlooked when it comes to the benefits of exercise are the benefits it can have on bone mass. Beginning around 30 years old, most women begin to lose bone mass. If this bone loss becomes more severe it is called osteopenia and eventually osteoporosis. The risks of fracture are substantially increased in people with osteoporosis. However, doing strengthening and weight bearing exercises can greatly reduce your risk. So, go for a jog or hike, play racket sports, try weight lifting, or even take a dance class. You will have more fun, feel better, and prevent bone loss in the future.
Aging has many effects on the body, one of them being muscle erosion. As we age our muscles lose their ability to get bigger, and they break down more quickly. Thus, exercise is a crucial part of maintaining healthy muscles as you age. Not only does exercise maintain muscle mass, it can also increase it. With strong and healthy muscles our metabolism is higher, we feel better, and we prevent injury. Any kind of exercise builds and maintains muscle mass, it doesn’t have to be weight lifting. So, stay strong and healthy as you age.
When we exercise these amazing little things called neurotransmitters and endorphins are released into our brain, along with increased oxygen. This gives us increased energy, helps reduce stress, improves our attention span and makes us feel less sad and depressed!
All of these combined benefits of exercise should be enough to convince any and everybody to stay active. Exercise and live the best healthiest life possible!
Putnal, Olivia. “10 Surprising Benefits of Exercise.” Woman’s Day. Hearst Communications, 2010.
Ruitenberg, Ott, Breteler, Hofman, and Van Swieten. “Result Filters.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, July 2001.
Wyatt, Nicole. “Women and Exercise: It May Not Always Be Fun, but It’s Beneficial.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2012.