Is Exercise the Best Medicine?

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We’re currently living through a strange period of history in which, even as we learn more and more about to how take care of ourselves and live fuller, longer lives, more people than every are choosing to live sedentary lifestyles with barely any physical activity at all. So much of the developed world is locked into a car-oriented lifestyle in which people hardly ever get out on foot, instead spending incredible amounts of time absorbed in media rather than being outside.

And the effects are beginning to show. In the U.S., analysts are saying that today’s children could grow up to be the first generation in the history of the country to have a shorter life expectancy than their parents. I won’t start spouting statistics and figures, but the sobering facts about poor health in today’s young people are just a few clicks away, and they’re not good.

The good news is that we can turn things around. Study after study has shown that even moderate amounts of exercise can do a world of good for all of our bodies’ systems, including our hearts, lungs, bones, and minds. Of course, studies don’t always lead to behavioral changes, but there are signs that society as a whole is beginning to alter its habits. It’s hard to change the very landscapes in which we live overnight, but widespread information campaigns are at least making people aware of how much better life can be with a good diet and a little bit of daily exercise.

According to the information that has come out over the last few years, these are just a few of the medical benefits of exercising daily:

Stronger bones: Both cardio and strength training exercise serve to make the bones more robust, limiting one’s chances of osteoporosis and protecting from breaks.

Pain relief: Whether you have chronic pain or just a headache, exercise is one of the best treatments. For chronic pain, it gives your body better resources to deal with the pain’s effects. For fleeting types of pain, exercise releases endorphins, our bodies’ natural painkillers.

Heart health: Elevating the heart rate on a regular basis helps keep the circular system clean and the heart healthy.

Lowered obesity risk: People who allow themselves to become overweight have a harder time exercising, which can lead to a downward spiral into obesity. Making an effort to exercise daily can reverse this process.

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