What's really important about exercise for optimum health?

How to choose the right exercise for optimum health, fitness, weight loss and disease prevention.

Would you believe that just a few decades ago, doctors questioned whether or not it was in their patients' best interest to begin a regular exercise program?

Today, we take it for granted that the road to optimal health absolutely must involve some sort of modest, regular exercise. But as researchers have discovered more and more about the benefits of exercise, the recommendations have changed and the science behind the benefits has become clearer.

We all know that moderate exercise is good for us, but rarely do we consider each specific reason why. Let's take a look at some of the benefits of regular exercise.

Exercise helps with weight loss and prevents developing obesity. Obesity isn't a direct cause of disease, but it's been proven to exacerbate oxidative stress throughout the body. The more we can stay near our optimal weight, the better our body will be at functioning smoothly and healthily.

For those with diabetes or syndrome X, exercise helps the body become more sensitive to its own insulin production, making it less likely that insulin replacement therapy will be necessary.

Moderate exercise also helps the body fend off diseases like osteoporosis by helping the bones with their regenerative processes. Another benefit of exercise is increased strength and coordination. You'll stay stronger longer, and have much less of a chance for dangerous falls as you age.

In addition, a regular exercise program has been clinically proven to lower blood pressure, leading to a healthier circulatory system and the potential prevention of heart disease. It's also been shown to lower "bad" or LDL cholesterol, and raise "good" or HDL cholesterol, as well as lower triglyceride levels.

Maybe most importantly, though, regular exercise works wonders with mood regulation. Many people who begin and follow a regular exercise program for at least a month report an elevated sense of well-being and contentment. If nothing else, exercise is perhaps the closest to a natural "feel good" drug that life has to offer.

The Dangers of Too Much Exercise

Given the prior information, it may seem that exercise is too good to be true. And, truthfully, it's not just exercise that will keep you healthy. You need to eat right and take quality nutritional supplements, as well, to prevent free radical damage that leads to disease.

And there is a downside to exercise, but only in the strenuous form. Studies have shown that excessive exercise significantly increases the free radicals in our bodies. This is mostly a concern for those who train repetitively for strenuous events - like marathons, weight-lifting competitions, and arduous sports.

The excessive oxidative stress caused by these free radicals can lead to early heart disease and various forms of cancer. If you exercise excessively, it's important to ensure you have advanced sports nutrition as well as taking a high quality antioxidants and vitamins to help combat the free radicals you're releasing into your system.

Tips on Exercising

Various sources will tell you different things on how to exercise properly. Mainly, the key is to just do it, do it in moderation, and do it regularly. Above all other forms, walking is potentially the best exercise option for most people. A good 30-minute brisk walk three to four times a week is a great start to optimal health.

New studies are showing, however, that it's not the given length of time you spend exercising, just that you do it regularly. Many researchers are now suggesting that breaking up your exercise time throughout the day is just as beneficial as spending an hour at a time doing it. With the busy schedules of the Western world, this is great news.

Try finding 5- or 10-minute breaks throughout your day to get out, take a brisk walk, climb stairs, or even vigorously clean your house. Five or six of these short breaks can add up to a great daily workout.

Other studies have proven that it's imperative for both men and especially women to do some sort of weight-bearing exercise on a regular basis for bone and joint health. This can mean lifting small amounts of weights, working with resistance bands, or even low-impact exercises like Pilates.

If you exercise regularly, it's also important to maintain the proper nutrition to help your body heal and regenerate itself. You should understand the role of vitamins and minerals to help maintain health and prevent diseases. And many people who exercise also choose to take protein and carbohydrate supplements to help enhance the effects of exercise. Be careful to choose only quality supplements of this sort to make sure you're getting the most out of your regular, but moderate, workouts.

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