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Are you aware of how much you have gained from being healthy if you are already in shape? Are you aware of how much you stand to gain if you are trying to get into shape?

Though the health benefits of being active and fit are universally touted and well-established, you may be unaware of how significant these health benefits are. 

First of all, what is considered an active lifestyle? Here in the United States, it is defined as at least 150 minutes of physical activity a week.

This can be aerobic (brisk walking, jogging, dancing) or anaerobic (weightlifting and other forms of resistance training), but preferably a combination of both.

150 minutes may sound like a significant amount of time, but distributed across 7 days, it can mean a mere 30 minutes a day for 5 days, or just 3 days of 50 minutes of exercise. What truly matters is the effort. 

An active lifestyle can change your body and mind, and if you stay on the wagon, you can stand to be rewarded with a longer, more comfortable life, with less risk of debilitating health conditions later down the line. Sounds great, right?

These, of course, are just generalities. What does it mean to be physically fit? For many Americans, our nationwide struggle with obesity is merely a result of a culture of convenience, quickness, and prioritizing work above many other things.

The frustration we feel with our daily grind, and the litany of processed foods and convenient “comfort” foods have made being healthy and active a somewhat elusive undertaking.

The foods we eat make us sluggish and short on nutrients, which zaps our motivation to work out.

The next day, perhaps you eat a salad for lunch instead, snacking with fruit and nuts and greek yogurt, but the lack of processed carbohydrates and the small portions leave your stomach rumbling and your energy levels at a standstill.

Americans have become caught up in an ugly catch-22; you cannot have an active lifestyle with a diet that actively makes having an active lifestyle more difficult. 

The solution, understandably easier said than done, is to do away with the toxic enterprises that keep you unhealthy altogether—doing that helps to understand why the battle is worth it and how your future self will thank you for the fight.

Below, we detail what you can expect to see with a regular and disciplined fitness regimen. 

How Physical Fitness Primes the Body

First, let’s start with the straight facts about how your body responds to regular exercise – and what is underneath the hood. 

It has been well-established that the fitter you are, the less vulnerable you are to an extensive list of current health issues – diabetes, cancer, and heart disease, and by as much as 35-50%.

So how do the individual parts of the body allow these benefits to happen? Read on to find out. 

The Heart

When people call the heart a muscle, what they mean is that it begins to change and adapt once conditions call for it.

A jog, brisk walk, going up the stairs with your groceries or doing lawn work all change the heart.

Both aerobic and anaerobic activity strengthens the heart, giving it the ability to do its job efficiently. The heart’s walls toughen, thicken, and more blood circulates throughout the body during rest periods.

As a result, the heart has less work to do, and less strain is put on it, priming it for the long term. 

The Muscles

Our musculature is an apparent visible benefit of regular exercise, but the benefits go far beyond aesthetics. Still, the research is ironclad: you upgrade your muscle’s genetic coding when you engage in resistance training.

As a result, your muscles immediately adapt to the strain and resistance, encoding your muscles with information to make them grow and toughen for future challenges. 

Strong, regularly exercised muscles also become more adept at handling glucose levels in the body.

Ever wonder why sedentary Americans are highly susceptible to type-2 diabetes? Unused, weak muscles become dysfunctional, unable to absorb glucose, causing the disease. 

Lean muscle also fights free radicals. As a result, you increase the efficiency of blood flow throughout the body and keep your body from accumulating excess fat! 

The Brain

Another beneficiary of regular exercise, the brain gains just like the rest of our bodies when engaging in regular physical activity. How?

The word “endorphins” tends to get overused in today’s information and the buzzword-heavy world, but the release of endorphins after exercise is no myth.

The post-workout high of friendly chemicals flooding the brain helps you think clearer, gives you a positive outlook, and wards off depression. I

n the long term, regular exercise helps protect the body from all sorts of things, but shoring up your brain function should not be discarded as one of the primary benefits of regular physical activity. 

The Lungs

Contrary to what your instincts may tell you, the lungs themselves don’t change much due to increased cardiovascular activity.

Instead, the muscles that control breathing grow more efficiently, making the lungs powerful and, over time, allowing you to be physical for extended periods without falling victim to rapid fatigue or exhaustion.

This is caused by the lungs secreting substances that help it deal with water.

Over time, increased cardiovascular ability causes this process to become more streamlined, allowing fit bodies to be physical for longer. 

Dangers of a Sedentary Lifestyle

The Strain of Organs

The organs of the human body tend to function most efficiently when we are standing upright. Our cardiovascular system and our bowels are prime examples of this. 

Without blood and oxygen moving freely, organs cannot function at optimal levels.

There is ample evidence that suggests a link between a sedentary lifestyle and cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Studies also show that routinely sitting for long periods can increase the risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, digestive problems, anxiety, and many other adverse health effects.

Researchers have also found evidence to suggest that extended periods of sedentary time are more strongly associated with the amount of fat deposited around internal organs.

Our body’s structure and function are improved with regular use.

Exercise, in particular, maintains and enhances organ physiology and promotes functional interaction between organ systems.

Deprived of this stimulus, the body will undergo many degenerative changes in a process called deconditioning, which limits and impairs all organ systems and their everyday interactions.

Bone Tissue

Strong bones support our body and protect our heart, brain, and lungs from injury. Our bones also store the precious vitamins and minerals needed to function correctly.

On the other hand, weak bones can break easily and cause pain and discomfort over time.

In adult bones, prolonged inactivity can signal your body to start degenerating your bone mineral. In turn, causing the formation of osteoclasts: cells that break down bone tissue.

Furthermore, as we age, we naturally start to lose bone mass. This, coupled with the loss of muscle mass over time, can expose our bones to higher impact forces accelerated by a sedentary lifestyle.

Preparing healthy meals rich in calcium and getting involved in physical activities can increase the health of your bone tissue.

Circulation and Hormones

Hormones function as messengers in our bodies. They regulate our mood, body temperature, sleep, growth, appetite, stress, metabolism, and reproductive cycles.

It has been found that prolonged sitting (greater than 9 hours per day or more than 2 hours at a time) slows down our body’s hormone production. 

For example, issues with low metabolism, weight gain, hair loss, heart palpitations, and trouble sleeping can be attributed to altered hormone production.

Since a sedentary lifestyle also leads to hormone imbalance, poor weight management, and low metabolism, hypothyroidism can cause a rapid downward spiral in your health.

Furthermore, A sedentary or non-active lifestyle can be dangerous because it can cause the body to develop poor circulation.

Poor circulation can lead to more severe problems such as increased blood pressure and cholesterol.

People who work stationary jobs are prone to poor circulation and can benefit from regular walks during breaks, taking the stairs instead of the elevator to the upper floors, or even stretching out their legs and feet at the desk.

How to Get Started

Ease into it

If you have been inactive, you may need to start exercising slowly and increase gradually over time.

The more you can do, the better. But try not to feel overwhelmed, and do what you can.

Getting some exercise is always better than getting none. Eventually, your goal can be to get the recommended amount of activity for your age and health.

Working out as a group or with a friend can help maintain accountability and motivate you to keep up your exercise routine.

Furthermore, tracking your progress, such as logging your weightlifting levels or noting your running times, can help keep you motivated to improve your records.

Get Creative

If you find it increasingly difficult to motivate yourself to get more active, it is possible that you have not found the proper exercise for yourself.

Either way, there are plenty of ways to exercise that you may enjoy.

There are also plenty of unconventional ways to increase your physical activity.

Cleaning your home or apartment regularly is a great way to make sure that you stay active during the week.

Tidying up can incorporate a variety of muscle groups without you even realizing it.

Dragging around a heavy vacuum, squatting, and scrubbing can burn calories and leave your home clean and organized. 

Work is a place where many of us are sedentary for hours. A stand-up desk could help change that.

Experts estimate that you burn anywhere from 100 to 200 calories an hour when you stand.

But, of course, it all depends on your sex, age, height, and weight. Sitting, by comparison, only burns 60 to 130 calories an hour.

Getting a new pet, especially a dog has increased the owner’s activity levels.

Pets need activity and actually can be your accountability friend to get at least a short walk in daily.

Even if the dog only forces you to get up and let it out without going for a walk, you will have burned more calories than if you sat in front of the television all day.

CBD

With such a wide range of products, it has never been easier to enjoy a CBD lifestyle.

However you choose to get active, exercise can wear down your body over time. When you work out a specific muscle, you expose it to some stress. This kind of stress leads to microscopic damage to the muscle fibers.

An increasing number of people who live active lifestyles or regularly take part in sports use CBD to help with many issues.

Generally speaking, CBD is legal for sportspeople to use, although it is advised to double-check with your particular sports body if you plan to compete.

Sportspeople mainly use CBD for its anti-inflammatory assistance and pain-relieving properties.

CBD can often be used on joints and muscles to reduce inflammation and aid in a quicker, less painful recovery.

Your Body Works For You

The body is programmed to be active. Just think, why would so many positive health effects occur when physical activity and regular resistance training and/or aerobic exercise are introduced into one’s lifestyle?

Conversely, why would so many detrimental effects occur with a sedentary lifestyle? 

It is important to remember that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to getting into shape. Multiple factors will affect your choices, including your age, ability, and health needs.

As a health-first approach, you can ease yourself into an active lifestyle.

The watchful eye of a trainer or your physician can help you feel more secure and confident about your choices. Absent that, keep it simple.

Start with brisk walks or jogs and bodyweight exercises. Then, as you gain endurance and strength, mix it up. 

With an obesity prevalence of 42.4% in the United States, the country has quite a bit of work to do to get on its feet.

On a macro level, we are looking at decades of work. However, on a micro-level, you can do right by your body by giving it the benefit of health and strength – no matter what approach you decide on. 

References

Associations between sedentary time, physical activity and bone health among older people using compositional data analysis

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6197664/

Influence of Habitual Physical Behavior – Sleeping, Sedentarism, Physical Activity – On Bone Health in Community-Dwelling Older People

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphys.2019.00408/full

Obesity Statistics in the United States

https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db360.htm

Prolonged periods of sedentary time strongly associated with amount of fat around internal organs

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/01/180109091802.htm

High Blood Pressure and Exercise

https://www.medicinenet.com/high_blood_pressure_and_exercise/views.htm

Sedentary lifestyle and antecedents of cardiovascular disease in young adults

https://academic.oup.com/ajh/article/19/7/701/179457

Sedentary Lifestyle: Overview of Updated Evidence of Potential Health Risks

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7700832/

Do You Really Burn More Calories While Standing?

https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness-exercise/calories-burned-standing

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