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It may not be as easy as popping a pill, but the positive effects of incorporating exercise into a weight-loss and health regimen are widely appreciated. If there is one thing everyone can agree on, it’s that incorporating regular exercise into one’s daily routine can have a net positive effect on health.

The benefits of exercise extend well beyond the commonly-touted benefit of weight loss. A wealth of studies shows that moderate exercise – walking briskly, mowing the lawn, or any activity that gets your heart rate between 110 to 140 beats per minute[1] – can improve your overall well-being and be curative for a variety of ailments, from high blood pressure and diabetes to depression. In fact:

British researchers reviewed the findings of . . . 305 individual studies involving 339,274 people, and concluded that physical activity and drug therapy similarly reduce a patient’s likelihood of dying from common health conditions, like heart disease and prediabetes. Exercise was even more effective than [medications] at reducing the risk of death from a stroke.[2]

Additionally, “exercise therapy increases aerobic capacity and muscle strength in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Other studies proved its benefits in other musculoskeletal conditions . . . and even some types of back pain.”[3]

On the flip side, the United States spends trillions annually on medications and yet it still ranks 28th in the world in life expectancy. So why isn’t this spending keeping people healthy? A growing number of experts, including those in the medical community, have known for decades that at least part of the answer lies in insufficient activity levels and overall lack of exercise.[4] Doctors argue that we need “to get serious about incentivizing people to live healthier lives so they don’t get sick in the first place. Exercise is the fastest, cheapest, and most effective way to do that.”[5]

What’s more, we also know that exercise can help defend the body against the certain cellular and systemic effects of aging. In other words, exercise really can act as a “fountain of youth” by improving the function of the body’s mechanisms involved in aging.[6]

The best part about this good news? You don’t have to invest in elaborate exercise equipment or decide you will qualify for the Tour de France. Simply finding a type of exercise that you enjoy – whether it’s something as simple as walking around your neighborhood or intentionally taking the stairs at every opportunity – will provide you with physical and mental health benefits that will last you a (longer) lifetime!

[1] Carroll, A. (2016, June 20). Closest Thing to a Wonder Drug? Try Exercise. New York Times. Retrieved from

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/21/upshot/why-you-should-exercise-no-not-to-lose-weight.html.

[2] Tedesco, L. (2013, December 12). Can Exercise Replace Medication? Women’s Health. Retrieved from https://www.womenshealthmag.com/fitness/a19931097/exercise-is-medicine/.

[3] Carroll, A. (2016, June 20). Closest Thing to a Wonder Drug? Try Exercise. New York Times. Retrieved from

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/21/upshot/why-you-should-exercise-no-not-to-lose-weight.html.

[4] McGinnis JM, Foege WH. Actual Causes of Death in the United States. JAMA. 1993;270(18):2207–2212, doi:10.1001/jama.1993.03510180077038.

[5] Zimmerman, M. (2013, December 20). Can This Miracle Drug Cure Anything? Women’s Health. Retrieved from https://www.womenshealthmag.com/fitness/a19932702/jordan-metzl/.

[6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5980968/

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