Let’s be honest. Most of us work out primarily to look better naked. Or at least to rock that new dress or suit. Sure, getting fit is important too but that’s just a side benefit. But what if you’re one of those people who doesn’t really care what your body looks like? In this, the first of a three-part series on fitness motivation for those who are fine with having uni-abs, we’ll explore 15 great reasons to exercise that have nothing to do with how you look in a Speedo.
If we don’t exercise, we lose about 10% of our aerobic capacity per decade after the age of 30. This means that by 70 you’ll have lost 40% of your aerobic power. This is why a young person can sprint up a flight of stairs while many elderly move much more slowly. It’s hard to climb when you’re not getting enough oxygen.
Intense exercise can stave off a great deal of this loss of aerobic capacity, meaning a fuller and easier life as we age, at least physically. If you would prefer to still be living an active life in your golden years, rather than sitting in a chair watching others have fun, regular aerobic exercise is the key.
It Might Avoid that Sudden Stop
The number one form of heart disease worldwide is hypertension, or high blood pressure. One of the primary causes of hypertension is the buildup of plaque on artery walls. Exercise attacks the plaque and breaks it down, as well as causing less of it to form in the first place. When our artery walls maintain their elasticity it keeps our blood pressure down, making that heart attack or stroke much less likely. Nothing ruins your 55th birthday like sudden unexpected death.
Reduced Risk of Diabetes
Number 3 on our list of reasons to exercise is a big one! Type 2 diabetes is the kind of diabetes we get from poor diet, and – you guessed it – lack of exercise. While cleaning up your diet and avoiding sugars and processed grains goes a long way toward preventing diabetes, exercise helps too. Exercise that reduces body fat and increases cardiovascular health can prevent diabetes in the first place, or reduce the severity of it when it does occur. Diabetes has a long list of very undesirable effects. It’s far more than just the inconvenience of having to test your blood several times per day. If you want some scary reading, check this out and find out what diabetes can do to you.
A Stronger Immune System
It used to be believed that some people were just more susceptible to getting sick than others, and furthermore that as we age our immune system would inevitably weaken. Previous studies, however, were conducted on subjects who didn’t exercise regularly. Recent research shows that the more you exercise the stronger your immune system will be. In addition, it will keep your immune system functioning well as you age. Getting old sucks, but getting old and sick really sucks.
The number one fear of the elderly is falling down. Their bones are brittle and many have already experienced a fracture simply from falling. But this doesn’t have to happen to you. Regular weight lifting (at least three times per week) can reduce or even completely prevent osteoporosis, or the weakening of our bones as we age. You can be 80 and scoff at wet linoleum! In addition, osteoporosis is what causes us to shrink as we age. If you’d rather not end up short enough to walk upright under a limbo bar, weight training will prevent age-related shrinkage too.
Next week we’ll continue on with five more excellent reasons to exercise, even if you don’t care about not looking like Shrek’s ugly cousin at the beach.