Why Do You Exercise?
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I need to be active. Most people know this on some level. You may know it intuitively, or your doctor may have told you so. If you have been in Lark DPP for a while, you may have been striving for weeks or months to hit the 150-minute-per-week goal for physical activity.
But...why is it so important to exercise? Do you know or remember why you wanted to get active in the first place, or why you want to continue to get moving most days now? Or do you just know that you should? It matters. Remembering your reasons for exercising, or identifying them for the first time if you have never thought specifically about the why, can help motivate you to get moving more often.
It is worth taking the time to think about your reasons for getting active. These are some of the common reasons that may be your reasons, too!
Reason: Blood Sugar
Do you have prediabetes or high risk for type 2 diabetes? There is a reason why Lark DPP encourages you to hit at least 150 minutes per week of activity. It works. Weight loss aside, achieving that goal can lower risk for diabetes by over 40% compared to the risk among more sedentary folks.
Exercise lowers blood sugar right at the source. While prediabetes is a condition with insulin resistance leading to high blood sugar, exercise decreases insulin resistance or increases insulin sensitivity. The result is lower blood sugar.
For extra motivation, know this: the insulin sensitivity-increasing benefits of activity last up to 24 hours. After that, it may be time to get active again.
Reason: Weight Loss
Eating affects weight loss as much as, if not more than, exercise does. Still, physical activity can assist in weight loss and, especially, in preventing weight regain. This is how it can help.
- Burning calories while you exercise, such as about 300 calories per hour for brisk walking
- Increasing metabolism the rest of the day as you build muscles, which burn calories even while you are resting
Exercise can also help keep you aware of what you are eating and remind you throughout the day that you have committed yourself to eating healthily.
Exercise is so good for so many health conditions that can be challenging to name some that it does not help prevent or manage. These are a few conditions that physical activity can prevent or improve.
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Cardiovascular disease
- High cholesterol and triglycerides
- Osteoporosis, or low bone density and risk of fractures
- Alzheimer's disease
- Certain types of cancer
Chronic conditions can seem far off sometimes, but they may feel more personal because prediabetes increases the risk for many of the ones on the above list. It can also hit home if you have a family member who has or had any of those conditions.
Do you want a raise at work? Then get active! That is right! Work out your muscles, strengthen your brain! People tend to be more productive and think more clearly after exercising. Studies have even suggested that cognitive abilities improve after exercising.
There are probably many reasons why exercise boost brain-power. It may be partly due to increased blood flow to the brain during exercise, and possibly the result of hormonal changes. In addition, exercise can spur production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which assists with learning.
Some exercise can make you happy. A lot of exercise may lead to an even happier state called "runner's high." You may notice that you feel happier and generally "better" when you exercise compared to when you do not.
Natural happy chemicals called endorphins are largely responsible for these feelings of well-being, but there are other possibilities, too. You may feel proud of yourself for exercising or more confident in your abilities. You may even be happy from having a good time if you have chosen something you like, and/or if it has been a social experience with friends.
Reason: Quality of Life
Do you want to sleep better at night, have more energy during the day, and get through daily tasks more easily? Exercise may be the answer. Regular exercise may help you sleep better at night, while keeping you more alert during the day. Plus, better cardiovascular fitness and improved strength may make tasks such as climbing stairs and carrying groceries easier.
Remembering your reasons for exercising can keep you motivated to make it easier to get out there and get active most days. Taking a few minutes, every so often, to identify your reasons and see if they have changed can refuel your motivation and let you refocus your goals. Lark DPP can help with motivation and reminders as you stay active for health and fitness.