Benefits of an Active Lifestyle

woman living an active lifestyle

Adopting and maintaining an active lifestyle plays an important role in achieving positive physical health and mental well-being. Incorporating regular physical activity into your daily routine can be challenging at first, but the benefits are worth it. While it may be difficult given the circumstances, dedicating 30 minutes of your day toward moving your body will provide long-term benefits on your mental and physical health.

Physical benefits

Regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Benefits include:

Reduced disease risk: Being physically active lowers your risk of developing cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers including breast, colon, kidney, and lung cancer.

Strong bones and muscles: Research shows, engaging in aerobic, muscle-strengthening, and bone-strengthening physical activity on a regular basis can slow the loss of bone density and help with arthritis.

Joint support: Flexibility exercises, such as yoga and stretching, can improve they body’s range of motion and support joints. Stability exercises can help reduce the risk of falls, especially among older individuals.

Weight management: proper diet and exercise play an important role in maintaining or reaching your healthy weight. To lose weight, you will need to be in a caloric deficit, using exercise to burn more calories than you consume.

Mental health benefits

Regular exercise over time keeps thinking, learning, and judgement sharp while reducing risk of depression and anxiety, according to the CDC. More specifically:

Depression: Exercise increases serotonin production in the body which helps chronic depression by helping the brain regulate mood, sleep, and appetite.

Anxiety: Immediately following physical activity, individuals experience better thinking and a short-term reduction in anxiety.

Stress: An active lifestyle is influential in limiting the effect of stress on the brain.

Better mood and energy levels: physical activity releases endorphins which are natural mood lifters. Exercise is also a great way to boost energy levels and help you feel a sense of accomplishment.

Improved sleep: an active lifestyle helps the body regulate natural sleep patterns. Getting enough quality sleep is important for protecting the brain from damage.

Reduces risk of cognitive impairment: Individuals who live an active lifestyle reduce their risk of developing dementia and cognitive impairment, according to Mayo Clinic. In addition, those with dementia may experience improved cognition with regular exercise.

Maintaining an active lifestyle during the pandemic

  • Sign up for the Winter Warm Up. Registration is now open for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan’s Winter Warm Up. Each year, this free eight-week program helps Michigan residents kick-start their health goals for the new year. Participants will work toward a common goal of completing a 5K walk or run by the end of the program. Open to all ages, the program includes one weekly virtual training session, a daily workout calendar, weekly emails, and access to a Facebook accountability group. Training starts Monday, Feb. 1. Register today.
  • Bundle up for the colder temps and make morning or evening walks part of your daily routine.
  • Download a fitness app. Down Dog offers yoga, HIIT, meditation, barre, and prenatal yoga and is currently running a 75% discount. Eventbrite is another great resource for live workouts.
  • Find a Facebook group, Instagram account, or YouTube channel that hosts live workouts and doesn’t require the use of gym equipment.
  • Consider purchasing exercise equipment online if you are able. A treadmill, stationary bike, weights, resistance bands, or even a jump rope will serve as tools to help you start or maintain an active lifestyle.

While the COVID-19 pandemic forced many gym-goers to find alternate means of daily exercise, adopting an active lifestyle at home can provide long-term benefits on your physical health and mental well-being.