You’re sweating, panting, and have a feeling of euphoria. You don’t know why you feel so good when there has just been so much stress put on your body (Attention-Getter). We’ve all gone through this feeling of exhaustion known as exercise. It can tire us out, yet leave a rewarding, kind of paradoxical feeling of energy.
I have this reaction every time I train for triathlons (Credibility). I’m sure you’ve had this same feeling when partaking in physical activity (Significance). Today, I would like to inform you about the physiological and psychological benefits of exercise (wiifm). It controls weight, combats health conditions and diseases, and improves mood (Thesis and Preview). (Transition: Let’s start with how exercise controls weight.)
I. Exercise can help prevent excess weight gain or help maintain weight loss. When you engage in physical activity, you burn calories. The more intense the activity, the more calories you burn. It helps to control your weight by using excess calories that otherwise would be stored as fat. Your weight is determined by the number of calories you eat each day minus what your body uses. Everything you eat contains calories, and everything you do uses calories, including sleeping, breathing, and digesting food. Any physical activities in addition to what you normally do will burn extra calories.
According to Edward Laskowski, M.D., people should get at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity. For example, a brisk 30-minute walk or activities such as gardening or cleaning the house for five out of seven days is sufficient (VA). (Transition: Besides maintaining weight, exercise provides another benefit.) Exercise combats health conditions and diseases.
Physical activity keeps your blood flowing smoothly and helps deliver raw materials to the cells in your body. Cells depend on the oxygen and nutrients supplied by the blood to do their various jobs-from the heart muscle cells that keep your heart pumping to the brains cells that keep you thinking and coordinating your countless activities. Being active boosts high-density lipoprotein, or “good” cholesterol and decreases unhealthy triglycerides. This, in effect, protects against heart disease and stroke.
Nerve cells benefit from better blood flow. Physical activity is able to shift neurons in your brain from a revved, stressed state-more vulnerable to dangerous cardiac rhythms and heart attacks-to a relaxed state. This is important because you want this system working smoothly so that it efficiently responds to changing demands for oxygen, speeding up the rate when you are active and slowing it down when you are at rest.
It also improves your metabolism – the ongoing chemical processes within living cells and organisms that are necessary for the maintenance of life. For example, muscle tissue is the biggest consumer of glucose (blood sugar that has been broken down from dietary carbohydrates) and physical activities helps keep muscles utilizing blood sugar.
This helps prevent insulin levels from rising dangerously in the body-a condition that leads to diabetes and damage to the nerves, blood vessels, and the liver. These all lower your risk of developing a life-threatening condition. (Transition: Aside from the physiological effects like weight loss and disease prevention, exercise offers positive psychological benefits.) Exercise improves mood.
When you exercise, your brain releases endorphins. These endorphins interact with the receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain. Endorphins also trigger a positive feeling in the body, similar to that of morphine. For example, the feeling that follows a run or workout is often described as “euphoric.” That feeling, known as a “runner’s high,” can be accompanied by a positive and energizing outlook on life. Leave you feeling happier and more relaxed.
John Spence, a professor at the University of Alberta, found that exercise brought about small, but statistically significant, increases in physical self-concept or self-esteem. Exercise can help improve mood temporarily in depressed individuals.
According to T.C North in his article “Effect of Exercise on Depression,” exercise decreased depression more than relaxation training or engaging in enjoyable activities. In fact, for people with mild or moderate depression, 30 minutes of intense exercise was as effective as medication for improving mood. Another study conducted by the department of Health and Medicine at UCLA found that yoga reduced tension and stress while improving mood. Changes also were observed in acute mood, with subjects reporting decreased levels of negative mood and fatigue following yoga classes.
I. As we have seen, exercise and physical activity offers many benefits. It controls weight, combats health conditions and diseases, and improves mood (Summary). Exercise is a great way to feel better, gain health benefits and have fun. As a general goal, aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day. Remember to check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program, especially if you have any health concerns. So when you’re not feeling too well, exercise may be the prescription you need to feel better (Closing Statement).
- Laskowski, Edward. “How Much Should the Average Adult Exercise Every Day?” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 17 Feb. 2011. Web. 12 May 2012. <http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/exercise/AN01713>.
- Mitchell, Tedd, Tim Church, and Martin Zucker. Move Yourself: The Cooper
Clinic Medical Director’s Guide to All the Healing Benefits of Exercise (even a Little!). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2008. Print
- North, T.C., McCullagh, P., & Tran, Z.V. (1990). Effect of exercise on depression. Exercise and Sport Science Reviews, 18, 379–415.
- Spence, J.C., Poon, P., Dyck, P. (1997). The effect of physical-activity participation on self-concept: A meta-analysis (Abstract). Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 19, S109.