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The Benefits of Regular Physical Activity: Mental Health, Stress & Life Span

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  • 0:02 Exercise for the Mind and Body
  • 0:37 What Counts as Regular…
  • 1:52 Physical Activity for the Body
  • 3:44 Physical Activity for the Mind
  • 4:34 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov
The mind and body can greatly benefit from even 30 minutes of exercise a day. Find out exactly what impact regular exercise can have on your mind, body, and lifespan in this video lesson.

Exercise for the Mind and Body

Yoga is an ancient practice that seeks to balance a person's mind, body, and soul. It's gained quite a lot of popularity in the Western world over the past decade. Research has shown the potential for yoga to improve a person's health. But yoga isn't the only physical activity that can do this: running, strength training, and swimming can also help achieve significant benefits for your mind and body. However, we'll leave the soul out of our discussion on the benefits of regular physical activity and save it for a more spiritual Study.com lesson instead.

What Counts as Regular Exercise?

Alright, regular exercise and physical activity is viewed to be at minimum the following for adults aged 18-64: 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, like brisk walking, every single week as well as at least two days a week of muscle-strengthening activities for major muscle groups like those of the torso, legs, and arms; or 75 minutes of more vigorous aerobic activity, such as running or jogging, every single week in addition to at least two days a week of muscle-strengthening activities for major muscle groups like those of the torso, legs, and arms that I just mentioned before.

Preferably, these activities should be spread throughout the week and the aerobic activities should be performed in intervals of at least ten minutes long. Even this minimal amount of exercise can help improve the length of your lifespan by three or four years. That's several more years you can enjoy life with friends and family! But quality of life counts too, I know, and physical activity doesn't let us down here. Exercise can help us improve our physical fitness and mood, as you'll learn.

Physical Activity for the Body

So, the obvious big plus of all of this regular physical activity is weight loss. This is particularly true for individuals who are overweight or are suffering from obesity. I say suffering and I mean it; that's because obesity is a state of excess fat accumulation in the body that predisposes a person to, or exacerbates, negative health states. Other lessons cover this in more detail, but some of these negative health states that decrease quality of life include arthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

Exercise also improves a person's coordination. It's not just about hand-eye coordination cultivated by sports like basketball - it's also about your legs. We tend to forget about those two things that help us move across the basketball field since we're so focused on catching the ball. But regular activity is very important in activating muscles and nerves involved in keeping you upright and balanced. What I'm trying to get at here is that through physical fitness you lessen the chances that you will fall.

If you're 20, then you're probably laughing this off, unless you're standing on the edge of a cliff. But for senior citizens this is very important since falls are their number one cause of accidental injury and death. Furthermore, strength training and even aerobic exercise all help to build strong muscles. Strong muscles obviously help you lift things more, but they also support your joints, places where two or more bones meet.

Bones are actually impacted by exercise in a very important way. When you exercise, your bones are stimulated to stay healthy. Lack of exercise causes bones to be broken down by your body since the body thinks it doesn't need them anymore when you don't use them. This can predispose you to fractures even during a minor fall.

Physical Activity for the Mind

Now, having a broken leg is obviously a big downer and that's why we're happy that regular physical activity can help prevent such a broken leg in many instances. But physical activity also keeps us from being a bit of a Debbie Downer ourselves. Regular activity has been shown to boost a person's mood by releasing 'feel good' hormones, and may reduce the risk of depression, a condition that causes a person to constantly feel sad and lose interest in once pleasurable activities.

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