- Exercise lessens the likelihood of getting heart disease, the number one killer of both men and women in the United
States. Exercising regularly helps prevent arterial plaque buildup by striking a healthier balance of blood lipids (HDL,
LDL and triglycerides), helps arteries retain resilience despite the effects of aging, and bumps up the number of blood
vessels that feed the heart. It also reduces inflammation and discourages the formation of blood clots that can block
coronary arteries. Even if you already have heart disease, exercise lowers your chances of dying from it.
- Exercise lowers blood pressure, a boon for many body systems. Long-term, high blood pressure doubles or triples the
odds of developing heart failure and helps pave the way to other types of cardiovascular disease including stroke, TIA,
aortic aneurysm, and kidney disease or failure.
- Exercise helps prevent diabetes by eliminating excess weight, which modestly lowers blood sugar levels, boosting
sensitivity to insulin so that less is needed to transport glucose into cells. If you have diabetes, exercise helps control
- Exercise reduces the risk for developing cancers of the colon, breast, lung and possibly high-grade prostate cancers.
- Exercise helps strengthen bones. When combined with calcium, vitamin D, and bone enhancing medications if
necessary, weight-bearing exercises like walking, running and strength training help ward off age-related bone loss.
Balance exercises help prevent falls and fractures.
- Exercise helps protect joints by easing swelling, pain, and fatigue and by keeping cartilage healthy. Strong muscles
support joints and lighten the loads upon them. Activity that increases flexibility extends range of motion.
- Exercise lifts spirits by releasing mood-lifting hormones and relieving stress. In some studies, exercising regularly
helped ease mild to moderate depression as effectively as medication. Exercise lowers the risk of dementia and
- Exercise improves sleep
- Exercise adds years to your life. In the long-running Framingham Heart Study, moderate activity tacked on 1.3years of
life for men and 1.5 years of life for women versus low activity. Raising the bar to high activity added 3.7 years for
men and 3.5 years for women.
- Individuals with the lowest levels of cardiorespiratory fitness had the highest risk of dying during the following
decade, independent of waist circumference or overall percentage of body fat. A low fitness level is also associated
with the later development of metabolic syndrome.
List adapted from Harvard Health Publication.