While the obvious benefits of exercise are well known by most, many people are still unaware of the not so obvious. Let’s start with the heart—our body’s greatest muscle. According to the surgeon general, aerobic exercise, also known as cardiovascular exercise, must be done on a regular basis in order to maintain a healthy heart and lungs. Doing so will strengthen the heart, as lifting weights does for the body, thus making it easier for you to breath while increasing your aerobic capacity and endurance. In essence, the amount of blood your heart can pump per beat, will increase, enabling your heart to work less, but more efficiently. It also helps to lower blood cholesterol and promotes healing to injured areas. That is one reason why physical therapy on an injury begins almost immediately after surgery.

Resistance training (weights, exercise balls or bands, and weight machines) aids in increasing your strength, power, and muscular endurance. You may not know that bone density is greater in individuals who perform weight-bearing exercise than in those who don’t. This is particularly important in preventing osteoporosis. This type of training builds somewhat of a protective shield around bones and joints by building the muscles that surround them. Your metabolism will also essentially receive a booster due to the added muscle that in turn stimulates calorie burning.

Surprisingly, many people exclude flexibility as part of their fitness regime. As a matter of fact, you will lose flexibility in your muscles if you exercise and do not stretch. Not only does flexibility make it much easier to perform daily tasks like bending to reach for something, but also helps to prevent strained muscles by maintaining their suppleness as well as increasing blood flow to the muscle. Stretches should always follow exercise in order to relax and elongate the belly of the muscle that underwent the strain of the exercise.

The list of benefits goes on and on, and speaking of relaxing, exercise also helps maintain healthy sleep patterns. I personally fall asleep almost immediately after my head hits the pillow. If you are not currently exercising and have problems falling asleep, try starting a fitness program before you look to sleep medication. Exercise even strengthens your immune system. A strong body can fight off bacteria and viruses much easier than a weak body can. A lack of energy also stands to be corrected through exercise. This tends to be a common complaint I hear from people frequently. Since exercise helps to increase your energy and allows your body to work at an efficient level, a fit person’s body does not work as hard at everyday activities as does a body that is out of shape. It becomes much easier to walk from the far end of the parking lot, climb the stairs to the fifth floor, or stay awake during those long board meetings when you are in good health.

Aside from the physical benefits that exercise offers to your body, it offers many mental and emotional benefits as well. For example, thought patterns are greatly influenced through exercise. Following exercise, your brain is affected and can process thoughts much easier due to the stimulating effect that exercise offers. It awakens you to draw from a higher state of consciousness. Exercise also releases endorphins that bring on a euphoric feeling.

In the end, living a fit lifestyle can result in less out of pocket expenses by reducing the amount of money you will spend on medicine and medical bills. It is much wiser both from a physical standpoint as well as a financial one to take care of yourself now, and lessen, if not prevent any unnecessary medical problems on down the road. Remember, it is never too late to change old habits, and there is no time like the present!

Author's Bio: 

Melissa Allen, CPT, BS, is a certified personal trainer & exercise therapist, as well as the owner of Optimum Condition—Mobile Personal Training & Exercise Therapy. Melissa specializes in training the recreational athlete, so please contact her with any questions or comments by visiting her website at www.optimumcondition.com/services.html