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Reasons to and Effects of Exercise

By Chris Sherwood

Exercise plays an important role in your overall physical health and wellness. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, recommends that all adults in the United States get at least 150 minutes of exercise every week to remain healthy. Exercise intensity levels can vary depending on your overall fitness level, your reasons for exercise and your goals.

Exercise Motivation

People exercise for many reasons. For example, someone who is severely overweight may exercise to improve his health by shedding pounds. Others may exercise for appearance reasons, such as gaining a certain muscle tone. Some may exercise just to stay healthy as part of a dual role with diet. Still others may exercise out of necessity to help fight off or control diseases such as diabetes or heart disease.

Weight Effects

One of the most noticeable effects of exercise is the physical changes that occur due to the loss of body fat. As you exercise, your body burns calories. When more calories are burned through exercise and daily body activity than are consumed through the food you eat, excess fat stores in the body are utilized and burned for energy, leading to weight loss.

Heart Effects

Exercise also causes noticeable effects on the heart. When you exercise your muscles, whether through strength training or aerobic exercise, you also exercise your heart, which is a muscle. Exercise strengthens the heart, allowing it to pump blood more easily through the body, which in turn reduces the pressure on the walls of your blood vessels, lowering your blood pressure. Exercise also has several other benefits on the heart, including increasing good HDL cholesterol levels, reducing bad LDL cholesterol levels and reducing inflammation in the arteries, suggests the University of Maryland Medical Center, or UMMC. All of these benefits contribute to preventing heart disease.

Disease Prevention Effects

Along with heart disease, the risks for several other chronic diseases can be reduced significantly through exercise. For example, exercise helps increase the effectiveness of insulin production and use, reducing problems with type 2 diabetes. Exercise can also help prevent problems with metabolic syndrome and may even help prevent certain types of cancer by reducing risks of cell damage and mutations within the body.

Psychological Effects

Beyond the physical effects of exercise come psychological effects. One of the most significant areas where this connection has been studied is the effects of exercise on anxiety and depression. When you exercise, your body produces "feel-good" chemicals called endorphins, which can naturally help treat contributing factors to depression and anxiety, suggests The American Council on Exercise.

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