Physical activity is an integral part of a healthy lifestyle. Being active is important, but exercising regularly is what matters the most. Doctors, scientists, fitness experts, all of them advise us to stick to the regular exercising schedule. Why? You’ll find out in this post. Scroll down to see why a regular workout schedule is so important and what it can do for you.
Exercise Supports Weight Loss and Management
Rates of overweight and obesity are high across the globe, not just in adults but among children as well.
According to the CDC, 73.6% of adults in the US carry excess weight. Of these, 42.5% account for obesity. Figures show 13.4% of children aged 2-5 years are obese and 20.3% of children aged 6-11 years are also considered to have obesity. About 21.2% of adolescents aged 12-19 years are obese (1).
A sedentary lifestyle coupled with a so-called Western diet is the main factor behind the excess weight.
A growing body of evidence confirms that sedentary behavior, especially watching too much TV, can increase BMI and waist circumference (2). Besides excess weight, sedentary behavior harms our health and increases the risk of various health problems including cardiovascular disease (3).
Studies explain sedentary behavior is more than just physical inactivity; it holds a potential neurogenic component that leads to stress, hyperphagia (excessive eating), and unfavorable metabolic health outcomes (4).
Lack of physical activity goes hand in hand with an unhealthy diet and fast food. These foods are high in calories, but low in important nutrients. With constant intake, especially in the presence of overeating, weight gain may ensue.
This is where regular exercise steps in. Engaging in regular workouts is one of the healthiest and most effective weight-loss strategies you can introduce to your lifestyle.
A considerable amount of evidence supports the role of physical activity in weight-loss management, but lack of adherence is a major problem for many people (5). Sure, any form of exercise pattern is better than no exercise, but to lose weight and keep it off, you need to work out regularly. You see, when you’re trying to slim down, regular exercise increases the number of calories you burn. When you combine the calorie-burning effects of exercise with a well-balanced diet, you get into a caloric deficit that jumpstarts your weight loss (6).
Even though it may seem easier to stick to a calorie-restricted diet alone, it’s not enough for sustainable weight loss. Keep in mind, calorie restriction will also decrease metabolic rate thus delaying your weight loss, but exercise speeds up metabolism to burn more calories and accelerate the whole process (7).
TAKEAWAY: Regular exercise schedule is necessary for fast metabolism and successful weight loss. Poor adherence to the regular routine could jeopardize your progress.
Regular Workouts Make You Happier
One of the most amazing benefits of engaging in regular workout sessions is a better, happier mood. Even a single bout of exercise can improve overall acute mood symptoms and feeling of vigor (8). Sure, improvement in acute mood symptoms is a good thing, but for more long-term effects you do need to exercise regularly. One workout session can lift up your mood for a while, but anxiety and stress, or other negative feelings are bound to return. With regular exercise, you’re more resistant to mood changes and you feel a lot happier.
Why does regular exercise improve mood? Physical activity induces changes in brain areas that regulate stress and anxiety. Moreover, exercise may increase brain sensitivity for serotonin and norepinephrine hormones, which alleviate depression (9).
Let’s not forget the fact exercise produces endorphins (feel-good chemicals). What endorphins do is produce positive feelings and even decrease pain perception.
The best thing about the effect of a regular exercise schedule on mood is that any intensity works. Studies show that workouts of any intensity can decrease symptoms of depression (10).
A review of studies, published in the General Hospital Psychiatry, found that exercise withdrawal exhibits adverse consequences for mental health (11). In other words, once you stop working out regularly symptoms of depression and anxiety can increase.
TAKEAWAY: Regular workouts exhibit a positive effect on mood and symptoms of anxiety and depression. Mood may worsen once a person stops exercising regularly. The best thing about this effect of workouts is that any intensity is effective. Whether you engage in high-, moderate-, or low-intensity workouts, you can experience their positive effect on mood, as long as you do it regularly.
Exercise Increases Energy Levels
Exercise is a wonderful energy booster for many people. All of us need a little pick-me-up when our energy levels go low, but it’s way better to exercise regularly than to rely on energy drinks and other similar products. Physical activity can help increase energy levels even in people who are sedentary and in those with various medical conditions (12, 13).
Evidence shows exercise can elevate energy levels in people with chronic fatigue syndrome or CFS (14). People with CFS experience extreme fatigue that lasts for at least six months. This type of fatigue can’t be fully explained by the presence of an underlying medical condition. Besides CFS, exercise can boost energy levels in people with cancer too.
How does regular exercise improve energy levels, you wonder? Well, workouts deliver more oxygen and nutrients to your tissues and support the proper function of the cardiovascular system. With improved health and function of the heart and lungs, you have more energy for daily chores, work, exercise, and other things that you need to do in your daily life.
TAKEAWAY: Thanks to regular exercise you can boost energy levels and get more things done during the day. Whether you opt for cardio or strength training, your regular workouts are bound to combat fatigue.
Exercise is Beneficial for Bones and Muscles
Strong muscles and bones are vital for our range of motion, flexibility, and overall health and wellbeing. Unfortunately, we tend to overlook the importance of strong muscles and bones until problems occur. The good news is that regular exercise can help you maintain them in the perfect form.
For instance, activities such as weightlifting have the potential to promote muscle building. This is especially the case if you combine them with adequate consumption of protein.
Regular workouts help release hormones that support the muscles’ ability to absorb amino acids. As you’re already aware, amino acids are the building blocks of protein. The improved absorption of amino acids in muscles allows them to grow and decreases their breakdown (15, 16).
Muscle mass and function tend to decrease as you age thus increasing the risk of injuries. A growing body of evidence confirms regular physical activity decreases muscle loss and maintains strength as people age (17).
When we’re discussing the benefits of a regular exercise schedule, it’s useful to mention the impact on bone density. Regular workouts help build bone density at a young age and may prevent osteoporosis down the road, later in life (18).
TAKEAWAY: Regular exercise is beneficial for strong bones and muscles. Keeping your bones and muscles healthy protects against injuries and improves your balance and coordination. Less joint stiffness and better flexibility are also benefits of a regular workout regimen. Moreover, you may reduce the risk of osteoporosis by exercising regularly.
Exercise is Good for Your Skin
Most of us have a love-hate relationship with the skin. Sometimes we have a “good skin day” when our face looks picture-perfect and the other day it’s a mess. While some people have skin-related problems from time to time, others deal with them on a daily basis. Acne, uneven complexion, dull skin, and formation of signs of aging are some of the many problems that affect our skin. Let’s also not forget exposure to the sun, pollution, and other environmental factors that put a lot more stress on our skin and only contribute to the abovementioned problems.
Regular exercise has an amazing potential to support your skin health and it’s all down to its antioxidant effects. Antioxidants protect you from oxidative stress, which occurs when the concentration of free radicals is out of control.
Oxidative stress is bad news for your general health and wellbeing, but also your skin. In fact, it can act on elastin fibers and collagen. When that happens, skin elasticity decreases and you’re more likely to notice fine lines and wrinkles. Plus, oxidative stress contributes to the lifeless appearance.
Having radiant glow isn’t a mission impossible.
Regular workouts can help your skin look healthier and more youthful. While intense and exhaustive workouts may contribute to oxidative damage, engaging in regular moderate exercise can expand the body’s production of natural antioxidants. These antioxidants protect cells in your skin (19, 20).
Yet another path through which exercise improves skin health is the stimulation of blood flow to this area. Exercise also induces skin cell adaptations that delay the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles (21).
TAKEAWAY: Antioxidant effects of exercise can improve skin health. Regular workouts also improve blood flow and skin cell adaptations. As a result, your skin has an even complexion and looks healthier and more youthful.
Exercise Can Reduce Pain
Chronic pain has a negative impact on a person’s quality of life. Ranging from mild to severe, chronic pain doesn’t allow you to engage in daily activities to the extent you’d like.
While chronic pain is unpleasant, often unbearable, regular exercise can help you decrease it (22). For many years the main recommendation for patients with chronic pain was to get as much rest as possible. Remaining inactive or sedentary was believed to be crucial. But, that doesn’t really work. In fact, your pain could increase after long periods of inactivity. That led scientists and doctors to change their minds. As many studies confirmed exercise could reduce chronic pain, doctors started recommending their patients to perform various exercises (23). The exact exercises may vary from one patient to another depending on the type and cause of chronic pain. You may need to work with a physical therapist or personal trainer to create the most effective exercise schedule that you will perform regularly.
TAKEAWAY: Regular workouts can reduce pain and improve your tolerance to it. For that reason, if you have chronic pain, you may want to adopt a regular exercise regimen. Keep in mind chronic pain occurs due to a number of causes. Exercise cannot make the pain go away entirely because the root cause could be something physical activity can’t change. However, regular workouts could make your pain more tolerable.
Other Benefits of Regular Exercise
Besides the above mentioned effects of regular workouts, other benefits include:
- Improved sex life
- Higher sex drive
- Better sleep quality
- Improved brain function
- Sharper memory and thinking skills
- Reduced risk of chronic diseases such as arthritis, anxiety, depression, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure
- May prevent stroke, metabolic syndrome, and falls
What is Considered Regular Exercise?
Okay, throughout this post we’ve discussed the importance of regular exercise. But, what does the term “regular exercise” even mean? Ideally, you should strive to get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise a week.
Or you can do 75 minutes of a high-intensity workout during the week. A combination of moderate and high or vigorous activity is also a great option.
Besides aerobic training, you should try doing strength training exercises for all major muscle groups at least twice a week.
How to Exercise Regularly?
Lack of adherence is a common problem for many people. Sometimes people think there’s not enough time for exercise. Reasons behind poor adherence are numerous, but you can overcome them. Below, you can see some useful tips and tricks that will help you exercise regularly:
- Start with activities that make you feel comfortable
- Don’t push yourself beyond your limits, improve your performance gradually
- Write down workout sessions in your calendar, set up a reminder, and treat them like a meeting you can’t postpone or delay
- Determine the best time of day for exercise and strive to do your workouts then; for some people, the best time of day for a workout is early morning, others prefer afternoon, but some men and women opt for an evening
- Don’t criticize yourself too much, never underestimate your performance believing you’re not good enough
- Have realistic goals and expectations from exercise
- Exercise with friends or family members, motivate one another
- Look for affordable ways to make exercising more satisfying e.g. buy an affordable fitness band or other pieces of equipment
- Set up exercise milestones and reward yourself each time you complete them e.g. six months of regular exercise, eight months, etc.
- Make sure you have recovery days
The benefits of a regular exercising schedule are crucial. It keeps you motivated, disciplined, and improves your mood. The exact schedule may vary from one person to another. The main goal here is to determine what works for you best and strive to do it regularly. Some people prefer working out at 6 am while others at 6 pm. Listen to your body and go to the gym or engage in other forms of physical activity when your athletic performance is at its strongest.