~ 081011 Six Ways Exercise Benefits You -- And Why

~ 081011 Six Ways Exercise Benefits You -- And Why
Shamonteil L. Vaughn, Mclatchy-Tribune News Service

You already know that exercise can lead to weight loss, but what are the other benefits of exercising?

1. Get better and easier sleep

If you've ever walked in from a hard day's workout and wanted to go to sleep, then you know the power of good exercise. If you have trouble sleeping, exercise may do the trick but don't exercise too late at night. It takes time for your heart rate to come down so if you're doing jumping jacks and immediately expect to drift off shortly after, chances are it won't happen. Not getting enough sleep can also lead to weight gain.

2. Quick way to blow off some steam

If a stress ball doesn't do it for you, a punching bag or a roundhouse kick may do the trick. Get all of your aggression out in an aerobics course or exercise solo by running or hiking. Find something - outside of unhealthy habits like overeating-healthy to do to release unhappy feelings.

3. Improve your sex life

Exercise can lead to a better opinion about your body, which in turn may lead to a more positive sex life. According to Mayo Clinic, exercise may lead to a higher sexual arousal for women and less erectile dysfunction for men.

4. Boost your energy levels

Relaxing in a comfy chair with junk food and your beverage of choice may provide temporary relaxation, but if you're not careful, you'll pack on the pounds. Being overweight or obese may lead to less energy, which means even doing basic things becomes a chore. Exercise can increase your energy levels, build strength and make your day-to-day tasks (i.e., grocery shopping, traveling to and from work, playing with your children) easier and less time consuming.

5. Lower your blood pressure without medication

Regular physical activity can help you avoid high blood pressure, obesity, Type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis and other illnesses. Exercise will also decrease triglycerides and increase good cholesterol.

6. Help your children avoid obesity

Parents can sway the diet and weight of their children, especially during their younger years. Being active in your child's life can help your diet and theirs, and if the activity is something you both enjoy, it's an easier way to exercise. Like watching baseball? Play it instead. Instead of heading out to the beach for a family picnic - lots of sitting and eating - go bowling or hiking instead.


(c) 2011, McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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