Health Column: Does Exercise Really Make You Live Longer?

Experts frequently tout the health benefits of exercise. While many of us don’t meet the recommended minimum weekly amounts of exercise (150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous) studies continue to demonstrate the importance of exercise.

A new comprehensive study found that those who engaged in the highest levels of this type of physical activity level lived on average 5.5 years longer than their sedentary counterparts. This can play a major role in combating premature death in individuals with illnesses such as diabetes, obesity and heart failure.

Exercise can also have an impactful role in terms of mental health. Depression affects 16.2 million adults across the U.S. It is caused by a lack of serotonin and norepinephrine, which are two neurotransmitters in the brain that control stress, anxiety and happiness. Exercise has been found to increase brain sensitivity to these two chemical regulators. It also produces endorphins which are known to help produce positive feelings and reduce the perception of pain.

With the rising obesity epidemic in the U.S. exercise can aid in weight loss. Vigorous forms of exercise have been shown to increase your metabolic rate, which will burn more calories and help you lose weight. It makes the body more efficient at burning fat and calories and helps to aids in muscle mass management.

Many Americans also suffer from forms of chronic fatigue and rely heavily on caffeinated drinks in order to help boost their energy levels throughout the day. A study found that, in fact, exercise was a more effective treatment for chronic fatigue syndrome than many pharmacological treatments.

Exercise can have transformative benefits on health. However, in order to reap the advantages of exercise it should be done at a minimum three times a week for 30 minutes.

Photo courtesy of Health Magazine

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