Struggling to snooze? Regular physical activity can help you fall asleep faster, get better sleep and deepen your sleep. Just don't exercise too close to bedtime, or you may be too energized to go to sleep.
But there's even more to it than that. Regular physical activity may enhance arousal for women. And men who exercise regularly are less likely to have problems with erectile dysfunction than are men who don't exercise.
Exercise and physical activity are great ways to feel better, boost your health and have fun. For most healthy adults, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends these exercise guidelines:
Moderate aerobic exercise includes activities such as brisk walking, biking, swimming and mowing the lawn. Vigorous aerobic exercise includes activities such as running, heavy yardwork and aerobic dancing. Strength training can include use of weight machines, your own body weight, heavy bags, resistance tubing or resistance paddles in the water, or activities such as rock climbing.
Remember to check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program, especially if you have any concerns about your fitness, haven't exercised for a long time, have chronic health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes or arthritis.
While dieting, a reduced calorie intake will lower your metabolic rate, which can temporarily delay weight loss. On the contrary, regular exercise has been shown to increase your metabolic rate, which can burn more calories to help you lose weight (6, 7, 8).
Additionally, studies have shown that combining aerobic exercise with resistance training can maximize fat loss and muscle mass maintenance, which is essential for keeping the weight off and maintaining lean muscle mass (9, 10, 11).
As people age, they tend to lose muscle mass and function, which can lead to an increased risk of injury. Practicing regular physical activity is essential to reducing muscle loss and maintaining strength as you age (14).
Some research suggests that high impact exercise (such as gymnastics or running) or odd impact sports (such as soccer and basketball) may help promote a higher bone density than no impact sports like swimming and cycling (16).
As you move more, your heart pumps more blood, delivering more oxygen to your working muscles. With regular exercise, your heart becomes more efficient and adept at moving oxygen into your blood, making your muscles more efficient (20).
One review of six studies found that participating in an exercise training program helped improve self-reported sleep quality and reduced sleep latency, which is the amount of time it takes to fall asleep (46).
Several studies also show that exercise can help control pain associated with various health conditions, including chronic low back pain, fibromyalgia, and chronic soft tissue shoulder disorder, to name a few (52).
We have all heard it many times before - regular exercise is good for you, and it can help you lose weight. But if you are like many Americans, you are busy, you have a sedentary job, and you haven't yet changed your exercise habits. The good news is that it's never too late to start. You can start slowly, and find ways to fit more physical activity into your life. To get the most benefit, you should try to get the recommended amount of exercise for your age. If you can do it, the payoff is that you will feel better, help prevent or control many diseases, and likely even live longer.
Acute stress produces a cascade of physiological and psychological effects that are coordinated by the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis (HPAA, López et al., 1999; Chrousos, 2009). Soon after encountering a stressor, defined as any emotional, physical or psychological threat that perturbs homeostasis, heart rate and blood pressure increase, along with mental alertness and tension, and cortisol is released into the blood from the adrenals (Habib et al., 2001). This multidimensional stress response is extremely beneficial and serves to ready the organism to deal with the imminent threat, however when it is improperly activated it can have deleterious effects and contribute to diseases such as atherosclerosis, obesity and depression (McEwen, 2006). Intense physical activity can also be considered a stressor since it activates the same systems involved in responding to an external threat (Hackney, 2006); bouts of exercise increase heart rate, blood pressure and levels of cortisol. Thus, regular activation of stress systems by physical exercise may produce beneficial adaptations such that these systems are able to respond to acute stress more effectively, for example with reduced vigor or shorter duration. This idea has been termed the cross-stressor adaptation hypothesis (Sothmann, 2006).
Previous studies have investigated psychophysiological responses to mentally challenging or psychologically stressful laboratory tasks among healthy individuals with respect to levels of physical fitness. Most of these studies have focused upon cardiovascular reactivity to psychologically stressful tasks with mixed findings. For example, more physically fit individuals have exhibited enhanced reactivity (de Geus et al., 1993), blunted reactivity (Crews and Landers, 1987) or no difference (Steptoe et al., 1990; Blumenthal et al., 1991; Summers et al., 1999; Spalding et al., 2004; Poole et al., 2011) in comparison to their less physically fit counterparts. Further, two recent meta-analyses of studies reached different conclusions regarding cardiovascular reactivity; Jackson and Dishman (2006) reported that physical fitness was associated with a greater cardiovascular response yet quicker recovery, while Forcier et al. (2006) reported that cardiovascular responses were blunted. A limited number of studies have examined cortisol responses to psychological stress. In these studies, physically fit men, older women, and highly active children exhibited blunted cortisol responses to psychological stress in comparison to their less physically active counterparts (Traustadottir et al., 2004; Rimmele et al., 2007; Martikainen et al., 2013). Finally, few studies have reported on emotional responses to stress with respect to levels of physical exercise, and again the findings have been mixed (e.g., Sinyor et al., 1983; Choi and Salmon, 1995; Summers et al., 1999). The discrepancies in findings between studies may be due to methodological differences, including stress induction methods (e.g., speech tasks tend to produce greater psychophysiological responses than mental challenge tasks, Dickerson and Kemeny, 2004) and subject samples studied (e.g., previous studies show evidence of sex differences in responses to psychological stress, Kirschbaum et al., 1999; Kelly et al., 2008; Childs et al., 2010).
Change in positive affect (POMS Elation, Friendliness) after the control and TSST tasks among regular exercisers and non-exercisers. Bars represent mean ± s.e.m. change from pre-task baseline. Asterisks indicate a significant difference between groups (**p < 0.01, Independent sample t-test).
The finding that regular exercisers exhibited a smaller decline in positive affect during a stressful situation provides some of the first direct evidence to support that habitual physical activity is associated with stress resilience in healthy individuals. Exercise has been associated with greater well-being in cross-sectional studies of healthy adults but empirical evidence of its beneficial effects is limited. Both groups showed similar levels of positive and negative affect at baseline, and the groups did not differ in personality measures of positivity or negativity. Thus, regular exercise was not associated with higher baseline levels of positive mood, but instead selectively influenced the ability of a stressful situation to diminish positive affect. Interestingly, stress-induced increases in negative affect were similar between the groups. Recent theories have begun to place more importance on the role of positive emotions during stress independent of negative affect (Folkman, 2008). Moreover, positive, but not negative affect, has been linked to a decreased risk of mortality (Moskowitz et al., 2008; Davis, 2009). Thus, an ability to maintain greater positive mood during stress exposure among regular exercisers may serve a protective function, minimizing the accumulation of stress burden with repeated exposures that is linked with the development of disease. Possible explanations for a resistance to stress-induced decreases in positive affect include that individual appraisals of the situation, self-resources, or coping strategies may be more positive among regular exercisers. For example, positive coping strategies have been linked to greater positive affect during stress (Folkman and Moskowitz, 2000, 2004; Lazarus, 2000). Thus, future studies should also look to assess primary and secondary appraisals of stressful situations and the various coping strategies utilized by exercisers and non-exercisers.
Regular exercisers did not exhibit altered reactivity in other components of responses to acute stress which echoes the findings of some previous reports (Blumenthal et al., 1991; Summers et al., 1999; Spalding et al., 2004; Poole et al., 2011). Also, in line with others' findings, heart rate was significantly lower overall among exercisers in comparison to non-exercisers (e.g., de Geus et al., 1990, 1993; Summers et al., 1999), and baseline heart rate was correlated with the frequency of self-reported exercise per week. Thus, although our analysis depended upon self-reported levels of exercise which are more unreliable than objective measures of physical activity, the significant relationship between baseline heart and frequency of self-reported exercise reinforces the validity of our approach.
You've probably heard countless times how exercise is "good for you." But did you know that it can help you feel good too? Getting the right amount of exercise can rev up your energy levels and even help improve your mood. 59ce067264