Fitness: What It Is, Health Benefits, and Getting Started – Everyday Health

Improved fitness drastically reduces the risk of chronic diseases that develop over time, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and even cancer. “The one thing that will help prevent almost any type of disease is fitness,” says Grayson Wickham, DPT, CSCS, founder of Movement Vault, a mobility and movement company in New York City.

In 2007, ACSM partnered with the American Medical Association to launch the Exercise Is Medicine initiative, with the goal of making physical activity assessment part of routine medical care and providing exercise resources to people of all ability levels. “The scientifically proven benefits of physical activity remain indisputable, and they can be as powerful as any pharmaceutical agent in preventing and treating a range of chronic diseases and medical conditions,” the initiative’s website notes.

Here’s a breakdown of those benefits:

Exercise Boosts Your Mood

Regular exercise has been shown to be a buffer against depression and anxiety, according to research. What’s more, other studies show that exercise can help manage the symptoms of depression and help treat it, notes a scientific article. Exercise may help reduce inflammation, something that has been shown to be increased in people with depression; it’s also possible that physical activity promotes favorable changes in the brain, too, say the researchers.

Learn More About the Ways That Being Fit Boosts Energy and Mood

Exercise Is Good for Sleep

Habitual exercise can help you get more restful sleep at night. Of 34 studies included in a systematic review, 29 found that exercise improved sleep quality and was associated with longer bouts of slumber. It may help set your body clock (so that you are alert and sleepy at appropriate times), create chemical changes in the brain that favor sleep, and, as past research indicates, can ease presleep anxiety that may otherwise keep you up.

It’s worth noting, however, that high-intensity exercise done too close to bedtime (within about an hour or two) can make it more difficult for some people to sleep and should be done earlier in the day.

Learn More About the Intimate Relationship Between Fitness and Sleep

Exercise Promotes Long-Term Health

Exercise has been shown to improve brain and bone health, preserve muscle mass (so that you’re not frail as you age), boost your sex life, improve gastrointestinal function, and reduce the risk of many diseases, including cancer and stroke. Research involving more than 116,000 adults also showed that getting …….


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