Hippocrates, the most well-known physician in the ancient world, once said, “eating alone will not keep a man well; he must also take exercise. For food and exercise work together to produce health.” As a Certified Personal Trainer with more than 10 years of experience, I have achieved accredited verification of my ability to meet the exercise science standards of excellence. The WHO definition of health is a state of physical, mental and social well-being. In the following article, I will explain how exercise is a conduit to achieving these three pillars of health.
Physical change is the most obvious manifestation of good health. There are many proven physical benefits of cardiovascular exercise. Exercise plays a key role in strengthening the heart, improving blood flow and promoting healthy cholesterol levels, which is especially important because according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease causes 1 out of every 4 deaths in the United States. Exercise also improves bone density and reduces the risk of developing osteoporosis. Lastly, increased caloric expenditure promotes weight loss and muscle hypertrophy enhances body definition and shape.
As well as the many physical benefits, exercise is also one of the easiest and most effective ways of improving mental health. For instance, it reduces stress, anxiety and tension. Regular aerobic activity boosts the production of serotonin and dopamine in the brain, which are neurotransmitters that regulate mood and drive feelings of calm and happinessIn fact, studies show it even helps treat depression.
Lastly, exercise stimulates the growth of new brain cells and helps prevent age-related decline.The benefits of exercise go beyond a healthy heart and a nice body. Many people do not realize there are social benefits, too. Gym memberships, group exercise classes and team sports are great places to meet people and make new friends. These social interactions promote respect, empathy and self-esteem, while alleviating loneliness and isolation. Plus, a support network helps drive continued motivation and commitment.
Clearly, exercise has a host of benefits for everyone. It’s a viable, effective and inexpensive way to invest in your health. The physical, mental and social benefits are wide ranging and well documented. A recent article in the Journal of the American Medical Association advised that “physical activity, while not a drug, can behave like one,” and that “physicians should prescribe physical activity for health.”