Heart and Lung Health: This is one of the most important reasons to exercise. An inactive lifestyle is one of the major causes of heart diseases. While a lot of heart conditions occur when we are older, it is necessary to start exercising at a young age to keep our hearts strong as we age. Cardiovascular exercises like running, swimming, cycling, and aerobics are especially good for the heart, hence the name ‘cardiovascular’.  These types of exercises help to maintain your blood pressure, reduce the bad cholesterol and increase the good cholesterol in your blood, reduce the risk of diabetes, and increase your endurance level so you don’t easily run out of breath. Diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol are all conditions that the black individual is more susceptible to than most other races.

Maintain a Healthy Weight: If you’re on the internet reading this, you probably already know that exercise is vital to maintain a healthy weight. Any form of physical activity helps to burn calories stored in the body from the food we eat. In order to lose weight, we need to burn calories. However, exercise not only helps us lose weight, but maintain our weight as we grow older. As we age, our metabolism decreases, and so we need extra physical activity just to maintain our weight. This is why most people put on weight as they age, even when they stick to the same diet that they have always had.

Build and Tone Muscles: Exercise helps to build strong muscles and bones through both cardiovascular and strength training. Strength training is any form of exercise that requires muscle resistance, so whether you’re using your own body weight or an external object, if your involving your body in motion that requires some resistance (e.g. push-ups), you are strength training. Why do we need to develop muscles anyway? Muscles help to build metabolism, and as you grow older, you’ll really need an increased metabolic rate to maintain your weight. Also, muscles help to prevent diseases, and improve balance. Ladies, don’t think building muscles means you have to look like a body builder. You can maintain a healthy amount of muscle mass.

Reduce Stress and Improve Moods: We now know exercise helps our physical health. What about our mental health? Anyone who exercises would tell you that it definitely reduces stress. Exercise is known to cause the release of a hormone that makes you feel more relaxed, and even increases your self esteem. Because of this hormone, people who exercise are usually in a better mood, have a higher energy level, and sleep better. Exercise usually helps people not only fall asleep, but helps to deepen sleep as well so we feel well rested during the day. However, exercising right before bed can actually be counter-productive because you’ll have too much energy to sleep well. So give yourself enough down time between exercise and bed.

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