Why is Exercise Important?

Living in the 21[st] century, most of us have surely noticed the fast increase in the number of fitness and wellness centers in our respective neighborhoods. I have found out that these establishments usually encourage their customers – the health enthusiasts – to exercise regularly. Due to this considerable increase in the number of fitness and wellness centers, I cannot help but ask the question, “why is exercise important?” So, I did a lot of research to answer this question. I found out that, exercising not only helps keep individuals healthy (physically and mentally) but the entire society as well. It also helps the nation`s economy, which would explain why the United States government is willing to spend more than 15% of its GDP in 2010 to healthcare. Note that it spent more, after 2010. In other words, exercise is important because it helps individuals, the society, and the entire nation to progress. I have attended gym sessions before, but I have stopped due to different factors, such as, I have to focus on my studies. But now that I have known why exercise is important, I think I will go to the gym again.
At first, I was really curious on what exercise do to people. I surfed the internet and read numerous health and wellness publications. I was not disappointed in doing so, as my research efforts helped me understand more about the importance of exercise. From the article written by Mayo Clinic, entitled, “Exercise: Seven benefits of regular physical activity,” it can be read that exercise can do a lot of benefits to people couples, for example, can maintain a healthier sex life – which is crucial to their relationship – if they exercise regularly. The article explained that husbands and wives need to be physically and psychologically healthy to have a healthy sex life. Exercise can help couples in these aspects of health. On another research which was conducted by Pertuzello, Landers, Hatfield, Kubitz and Salazar, entitled, “A Metal-Analysis on the Anxiety-Reducing Effects of Acute and Chronic Exercise,” it was proven that people can reduce their levels of anxiety by engaging on physical activities. I was again curious because anxiety has something to do with feelings – it is a problem in the mind, not necessarily with the physical body. How can a physical activity such as exercising can affect the feelings or mind of someone – this was the next question that came into my mind. I learned from research conducted Taylor, Sallis and Needle, entitled, “The relation of physical activity and exercise to mental health,” that exercise helps in the regulation of organ functions in the body. Since emotional or mind problems (whether temporary or long-time) are sometimes mainly caused or usually associated with the abnormal functioning or organs, such as the over or under secretion of hormones, then they will be, indeed, affected by exercise. Moreover, according to this study, anxiety is not the only mind or mental related problem which exercise can help mitigate. Accordingly, exercise can also help in the improvement of self-image, self-esteem, cognitive functioning, and social skills. Moreover, the study also explained that exercise can help in the efficient functioning of brain – that is, it can help individuals think more clearly. This means that exercise can be of great benefit to students, as it can help them perform better at school. It was further explained in the study that exercise can help people from getting out of alcohol addiction as well as from drug abuse.
Since, exercise can help people get out of alcohol addiction and drug abuse, then it must mean that exercise can affect the society. Note that alcoholism (the addiction to alcohol) and drug abuse are often related to crimes in a society. Since, exercise can help people avoid and shun from using these substances, then it indirectly helps in crime prevention. This means, a society whose people are well engaged in exercise will tend to have lower crime rates. These points about the relationship of crime rate and alcohol and drug abuse were verified by the report by the National Council of Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. (NCCDD). Accordingly, they have shown that the young people who engage in drugs and other substance abuse, such as alcohol, tend to be more prone to commit crimes – even violent crimes, such as murder. These crimes prevail even in schools and streets. It was further pointed out in the report that every year, more than half a million (approximately 600, 000) student belonging to the age range of eighteen to twenty four (18 – 24) gets assaulted by another student – also belonging to the same age range who is engaged in alcohol or drug abuse. Moreover, 95% of violent crimes in college campuses in the United States are drug or alcohol abuse – related. The effectiveness of exercise to help people get out of alcohol abuse is manifested on its use on alcohol rehabilitation centers on different parts of the globe. In Thailand, a study was performed by the Drugs and Alcohol Rehab Asia (DARA) to assess the efficiency and the different effects of exercise among young people who are under rehabilitation. It was explained in the study that most alcohol rehabilitation institutions prescribe the use of exercise as a means to help people who wants to get out of alcohol or drug abuse. The main reason for this prescription is that exercise can mimic the addictive effects of the said substances – this means that exercise can be addicting, too. Exercise can also help boost the immune system because, as pointed out on the previous discussions, exercise helps in the proper regulation of organ functions. The study further pointed out that people who have been abusing the intake of alcohol and those who engage in using illegal drugs develop a weak immune system. Exercise, therefore, is necessary to get them back on their “best shape” so that they can be given the chance to actively participate in improving the society again.
Since exercise can boost the immune system, I thought that is also possible that exercise can help individuals fight and even recover from diseases. I was right in having this idea because I have also found numerous studies supporting it. One of these studies is that of Miller, Balady and Fletcher, entitled, “Exercise and its role in the prevention and rehabilitation of cardiovascular disease.” Accordingly, their study has shown that exercising can improve the hearts function. Exercise, can build muscles, not only the muscles of the arms and legs, but also of the heart. In other words, exercise can build and strengthen the heart muscles allowing it to pump more blood throughout the body (220 – 229). Another such studies was that of Briazgounv, entitled, “The role of physical activity in the prevention and treatment of noncommunicable diseases.” Exercise improves blood circulation and the intake of oxygen from the lungs into the bloodstream. The sufficient intake of oxygen helps the body in burning stored energy, such as fats which results in healthier pulmonary and cardio-vascular system. Since it helps burn fats, it can also help in maintaining proper weight. It is also beneficial for people with diabetes mellitus and end-stage renal disease – according to the study (242 – 250).
It has been pointed out earlier that exercise can positively influence the society by reducing crime rate. If the society is affected by exercise, is it possible that it can also affect the entire nation – I asked next. The answer to this question is, yes! Public health is so important that the United States spends a great percentage of its GDP (approximately 15%) is allotted to healthcare. Since exercise, could improve the health conditions of the people, then a significant part of the budget can be saved. For example, the portion of the healthcare budget allotted to cardiovascular treatment, alcohol and drugs rehab can be made smaller. Moreover, the NCCDD explained that exercise can help cure and prevent diseases which cost great amount of money and resources to cure such as cancer. A reduction in the occurrence of chronic diseases, such as cancer, can definitely help in the reduction of budget allocated to healthcare. In other words, exercise can reduce medical spending, significantly. The saved budget from such spending can be used for other important programmes of the government. Joe Moore and John Aglialoro, in their report entitled, “Economic Benefits of Regular Exercise,” explained that aside from the fact that exercise can help cut the budget allocated to healthcare, it can also affect the economy positively in another way. They noted that privately and publicly owned companies spend much of their budget to help their employees get well when the latter acquire some illness or disease. Employees getting sick have two negative effects on their respective companies. The first is that the company should provide them with financial and medical assistance. The budget for these assistances will be deducted from the company`s capital or profit. Another negative effect is reduced productivity. Accordingly, when employees are unhealthy or are sick, they tend to perform less efficiently in their work, resulting to low productivity – sometimes it can also result to poor quality of work. Their low productivity would mean that the company will have less profit. Different companies today, especially the large ones (with more than 500 employees), provide their employees with health and wellness programmes. These programmes generally involved providing their employees with facilities which they can use to exercise, such as gyms. Although, providing employees may seem expensive at first, it was proven in the study that their respective companies will benefit in the long run.
As a summary of the above discussions it has been shown how a simple physical activity, particularly, exercise can help people become better individuals due to the improvements on their improved physical and mental health. It has also been shown how the physical and mental aspects of wellbeing are intertwined. Accordingly, the state of an individual`s physical health affects his or her feelings or mental capabilities. Poor physical health can lead to anxiety and poor self-image. These two problems can be solved simultaneously – by exercising. In other words, exercising is “hitting two birds with a single stone.” Exercise can also positively influence how people socialize. Accordingly, their positive self-image, allows them to be confident in dealing or communicating with other people, allowing them to become more sociable. Not only does exercise help individuals it also helps the entire society. That is, it helps in the reduction and prevention of crimes (especially violent crimes), especially those which are related to alcohol and drug abuse. It can also be used to help people fight alcohol and drug abuse. Accordingly, it can compete with alcohol and drugs addiction as exercising can also be addicting. Exercise also positively influences the entire nation. By exercising, people can become healthier and therefore will no longer need of the healthcare services provided by the government – medical spending will be reduced. The government, therefore, can save the money which was supposed to be used for medical spending and use it to other important programs. Exercise also increases the productivity of employees. Accordingly, when employees do not or get sick rarely, employers or their respective companies will no longer have to spend much on their employees` health benefits. Healthy employees` high level of productivity compared to unhealthy ones. With all the benefits of exercise can give to people, I realize that I must return to my old habit of attending gym sessions, and see and feel the improvements that will happen to me in doing so.
References
Briazgounov,I.P. “The role of physical activity in the prevention and treatment of noncommunicable diseases.” 1998. Web. 1 October 2013. .
Moore, Joe and John Aglialoro. “Economic Benefits of Regular Exercise.” 2009. Web. 2 October 2013. < http://www.resultsthegym.com/Uploads/file/EconomicsOfRegularExercise.pdf>.
Miller, T.D., G.J. Balady and G.F. Fletcher. “Exercise and its role in the prevention and rehabilitation of cardiovascular disease .” 1997. Web. 1 October 2013. .
National Council of Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. (NCCDD). “Alcohol, Drugs, and Crime.” 2013. Web. 3 October 2013. < http://www.ncadd.org/index.php/for-youth/drugs-and-crime/230-alcohol-drugs-and-crime>.
Pertuzello, Seteven, Daniel Landers, Brad Hatfield, Karla Kubitz and Walter Salazar. “A Metal-Analysis on the Anxiety-Reducing Effects of Acute and Chronic Exercise.” 31 November 1991. Web. 2 October 2013. < http://link.springer.com/article/10.2165/00007256-199111030-00002#page-2>.
Taylor, Charles, Jefferson Sallis and Ryan Needle. “The relation of physical activity and exercise to mental health.” 1 March 1985. Web. 1 October 2013. < http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1424736/>.

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