Posted by: Dr. Tyrone A. Holmes | June 18, 2008

The 4 Benefits of Physical Activity

          You probably know that exercise is good for you.  But do you know why?  There has been extensive research on the impact of exercise on the human body and it is clear that increased physical activity provides us with a variety of benefits.  My top four include the following:

1.  Enhanced Health and Decreased Risk for Disease.  There is a direct link between a sedentary lifestyle, obesity and many deadly diseases.  Specifically, overweight and obese individuals are at a much greater risk for hypertension, high cholesterol, Type 2 diabetes, coronary artery disease, stroke, gallbladder disease, osteoarthritis, some cancers (endometrial, breast and colon), sleep apnea, and respiratory problems.  The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) estimates that poor diet and physical inactivity contribute to nearly 400,000 deaths a year.  Therefore, the greatest benefit of increased physical activity is improved health and a longer life.

2.  Decreased Risk of Injury.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than one million workers suffer back injuries each year.  This accounts for 20% of all workplace injuries and illnesses.  In addition, one-fourth of all workers’ compensation claims involve back injuries costing industry billions of dollars annually.  While a fitness lifestyle will not eliminate this problem, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has recommended physical conditioning and stretching programs as one way of reducing these injuries.

3.  Improved Work Performance.  Yes, being fit and healthy can improve your work performance, and will save you and your employer money.  In a recent study reported by ACSM, researchers found that when workers used their company gym, they were more productive and got along better with their co-workers.  During the study, ratings for mental and interpersonal performance as well as the ability to manage time and output demands were significantly higher on exercise days.  In addition, other studies have shown that corporate exercise programs can pay off in reduced health care costs, absenteeism and stress, and higher morale and productivity.

4.  Increased Self-Confidence.  While much has been written about the health and physical benefits of a fitness lifestyle, relatively little has been written about the psychological benefits such as improved confidence.  However, it is clear that healthy and fit individuals gain several mental and emotional benefits such as a better sense of well-being, a greater sense of accomplishment, and greater self-confidence relative to work and social interactions with others.



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