Better Control of Body Fat

Better Control of Body Fat

Too much body fat is linked to a variety of health problems, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes. Healthy body composition can be difficult to achieve

Survival rates for older adults doing vigorous, moderate, or no exercise, 1992-2008. The Health and Retirement Study a long-term study of older adults found that people who exercised vigorously over a 16-year period (1992-2008) had a lower death rate than those who exercised at moderate intensities or did no physical activity. After 16 years, the survival rate was 84% for those doing vigorous exercise, 78% for those doing moderate intensity physical activity, and only 65% for those doing no physical activity. Exercising longer or more intensely reduces the risk of dying prematurely from a variety of causes. source: Wen, M., et al. 2013. Physical activity and mortality among middle-aged and older adults in the United States. Journal Physical Activity & Health. Published online. and maintain especially for someone who is sedentary because a diet that contains all essential nutrients can be relatively high in calories. Excess calories are stored in the body as fat. Regular exercise increases daily calorie expenditure, which means that a healthy diet is less likely to lead to weight gain. Endurance exercise burns calories directly and, if intense enough, continues to do so by raising resting metabolic rate for several hours following an exercise session. A higher metabolic rate makes it easier for a person to maintain a healthy weight or to lose weight. However, exercise alone cannot ensure a healthy body composition. As described in Chapters 6 and 9, you will lose more weight more rapidly and keep it off longer if you decrease your calorie intake and boost your calorie expenditure through exercise.

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Improved Immune Function

Exercise can have either positive or negative effects on the immune system, the physiological processes that protect us from diseases such as colds, bacterial infections, and even cancer. Moderate endurance exercise boosts immune function, whereas overtraining (excessive training) depresses it, at least temporarily. Physically fit people get fewer colds and upper respiratory tract infections than people who are not fit.

Exercise affects immune function by influencing levels of specialized cells and chemicals involved in the immune response. As discussed in Chapter 2, physically active people also have healthier, more resilient genes, which promotes immunity. Exercise preserves the telomeres, which form the ends of the DNA strands and holds them together. Without exercise, the telomeres shorten over time, eventually reducing the effectiveness of the immune system. In addition to getting regular moderate exercise, you can further strengthen your immune system by eating a well-balanced diet, managing stress, and getting seven-eight hours of sleep every night.

Improved Psychological and Emotional Well-Being

Most people who participate in regular endurance exercise experience social, psychological, and emotional benefits. Skill mastery and self-control enhance one’s self-image. Recreational sports provide an opportunity to socialize, have fun, and strive to excel. Endurance exercise lessens anxiety, depression, stress, anger, and hostility, thereby improving mood while boosting cardiovascular health. Regular exercise also improves sleep.

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