The Benefits of Being Physically Active

The Benefits of Being Physically Active

You don't know what you don't know, and in my opinion, our society does not prioritize physically education whatsoever. How can we expect people to prioritize an active lifestyle when they don't know the overwhelming benefits of it? Instead, they are fed McDonalds advertisements (no pun intended) and hear charlatans say that lifting weights is "bad for your bone growth" (which is so FU%$ing wrong).

I'll digress. But be certain, there are plenty of benefits to an active lifestyle. On The X is here to share some with you.

Enhanced Physical Health and Resilience: Physical fitness is synonymous with good health. Regular exercise strengthens the cardiovascular system, reduces the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes, and contributes to better overall immune function. Osteoporosis can be combatted by resistance training; specifically, properly programmed eccentric loading.

Furthermore, a recent study found that a sedentary person who begins moderate physical activity can decrease their over-all mortality rate by 22-31% (1). That number rises as the intensity and amount of exercise increases. Simply put, your life expectancy goes up as your exercise engagement and intensity grows.

Improved Mental Health: The connection between physical and mental well-being is undeniable. Exercise releases endorphins, the "feel-good" hormones, which can alleviate stress, anxiety, and depression. It fosters better cognitive function, sharpens memory, and contributes to an overall positive outlook on life.

A massive review was published earlier this year that included over 100,000 participants. Its findings where objective in the sense that there was no more room for discussion; physical fitness is beneficial for your mental well-being. In this study, they found that physical exercise decreased all symptoms of depression in people with distress, anxiety, postpartum, kidney disease, and even HIV (2). They also found that these benefits increase as the intensity of the exercise increased.

Something to note - this study found diminishing returns after prolonged periods of intervention (exercise). This reminds us that life is a balance and too much of anything can be bad. Remember, exercise is quite literally inducing stress onto our bodies in or to reap adaptations. If we aren't do this properly, we may hinder it's effects.

Increased Energy Levels: Contrary to common belief, regular physical activity doesn't drain energy; it boosts it. Exercise improves the efficiency of the cardiovascular system and enhances oxygen transport, leading to increased energy levels throughout the day. Individuals who prioritize fitness often report feeling more alert and focused.

Better Sleep Quality: Quality sleep is essential for overall health, and physical fitness plays a crucial role in achieving it. Regular exercise helps regulate sleep patterns, promotes deeper sleep, and can be an effective remedy for insomnia. A well-rested body and mind are better prepared to tackle daily challenges.

Although most literature points towards increased sleep quality with moderate exercise, we must keep in mind some of the studies which find the opposite. This is specifically with more intense workouts over weeks of training (3).

My personal take on this is the following - 1) Like stated before, exercise is literally self-induced stress. If we do not allow our body to rest and properly adapt we can create issues for ourself. We know that increased stress levels hinder sleep, so be careful that you are not running yourself into a chronically high-stress state with workouts too intense and inadequate rest days/weeks.

2) Anecdotally speaking, what time of the day exercise takes place has played a role for myself and clients of mine. For me, when I come home late at night after an evening of sparring or grappling at my local fight gym (shoutout FAA) I tend to need more time to whine down. I have noticed that my sleep is altered when I am still amped up and thinking about the training that just took place. Best thing we can do is either move our training times around if able, or come up with a routine to help ourself whine down after an evening workout.

Weight Management: Physical fitness is a key component of weight management. Combining regular exercise with a balanced diet helps maintain a healthy weight and prevents obesity-related issues. This happens simply because we burn more calories when our activity level is heightened. More calories burned often leads to a caloric deficit and, in turn, weight loss.

An important piece to this is a so-called "placebo effect" of being physically active. That being, the intention to be healthier that transfers to other parts of someones life outside of the gym. Most people start to be more conscience of what they are eating, they take the stairs rather than the elevator, in the evening they go for a walk rather than watch the TV for hours. All of this transfers to weight loss.

Enhanced Confidence and Self-Esteem: Achieving fitness goals, whether big or small, can significantly boost confidence and self-esteem. Us here at On The X have see how the sense of accomplishment that comes with overcoming physical challenges translates into a more positive self-image. Ultimately this fosters a healthier mental state and happier person. 

Putting Words Into Action: By this point I am sure you have gathered enough evidence that you should be partaking in physical activity. If you are new and don't know how to start here is a tip, JUST START.

Increase your daily activity level by going for morning or evening walks, take the stairs over the elevator, get a standing desk at work, etc. To start "exercising", find a club team to play softball or volleyball with, or start a new sport like boxing. Although getting in the gym is important and you should plan to do so, starting with these simple changes can go a long way.

Find a personal trainer who understands your goals (I heard the OTX team has personal trainers...). Its important to be clear with your trainer on what exactly your goal is and provide them with UNBIASED information. Withholding information or lying about your food catalog will hinder them from helping you.

Be excited! You're about to change your life for the better!

 - Jason





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