“Exercise is king, nutrition is queen, put them together and you have a kingdom!” Jack LaLanne 1914 – 2011
Jack LaLanne passed away yesterday at the ripened old age of 96. In honor of his infinite ability to inspire, I want to share 10 reasons why exercise is indeed so critical to optimal health. I actually would reverse Jack's quote and define nutrition as the king and fitness as the queen. Regardless, you cannot achieve and maintain your superior kingdom without a combination of consistently moving and properly fueling your body. Here are some of the reasons why:
1. Exercise stimulates your immune system. Muscle contractions are to your lymphatic system what the heart is to your circulatory system. The lymphatic system cleans up the mess like inflammatory cells from throughout the body. It then traps bacteria, viruses, fungus, and other mischief-makers to put the immune system to work. Finally, any leftover fluid is dumped back into the bloodstream to be excreted via the kidneys. Think of your lymphatic system as your body's housekeeper.
2. Working out strengthens your heart and blood vessels. Encouraging circulation by stimulating your heart to work hard for a prolonged period of time improves blood flow, decreases inflammation, and keeps your heart muscle fit.
3. Regular exercise is excellent for your mind. Depression, anxiety, stress, and panic disorders have all been found to improve with exercise. Endorphins (feel-good hormones and natural painkillers) are released from physical stress, soothing your mind, and improving your mood. It enables you to deal with stress more effectively.
4. Sleep is deeper and more efficient with regular exercise. Proper rest is critical for stress management, immune function, mental clarity, and physical well-being.
5. Weight management is easier with a consistent fitness program. As lean body mass increases, metabolism improves, and you require more calories just to maintain those muscles. Become a calorie-burning machine by sticking to a fitness plan.
6. Exercise improves insulin sensitivity. Great news for diabetics, pre-diabetics, and those who want to prevent diabetes (hopefully everyone). Type 2 diabetes is the result of insulin resistance...where the cells become unable to absorb glucose, thereby leading to hyperglycemia.
7. Inflammation is suppressed thanks to increased circulation brought about by exercising.
8. Your risk for most chronic disease-including cancer, heart disease, arthritis, and diabetes-is significantly reduced by sustaining a regular fitness regimen.
9. The number one most effective factor in preventing and stopping the progression of osteoporosis is...yep, you guessed it...EXERCISE! Resistance movements against your own body weight or other resource (like weights, machines, and tubing) improve bone mass. Bone and muscle both react to physical stress (resistance) by growing thicker and stronger. Move your body and build bone tissue. Remember that bone tissue is dynamic. It is constantly breaking down and repairing in a constant state of flux. So, provide it with stress to encourage proper bone mineralization.
10. Exercise helps make you a better lover. People who work out have an increased libido, have a decreased risk for erectile dysfunction, and have more stamina to bring sexy back to bed!
No matter what your fitness level is or what chronic conditions you may have, regular exercise will improve your life on so many levels. It is not an optional activity...it is a must-do. Commit to a program if you haven't already and watch the miracles in your life materialize!