The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Lifestyles

May 1, 2013

Benefits of exercise go beyond weight loss

(Continued)

Even though exercise causes you to burn energy, you seem to end up with more energy when it's done. Regular exercise builds muscle strength and endurance and causes your cardiovascular system to work more efficiently.

Have trouble sleeping at night? Doctors say you may have less trouble if you get some regular exercise. Exercise causes you to fall asleep faster and and sleep more soundly. It can even perk up your sex life.

Economic benefits

Aside from all these health and lifestyle benefits there is also a financial benefit. Consider that consumers spend billions on pills to enhance their sex lives, sleep better, boost their energy and lower blood pressure and cholesterol. A healthy lifestyle, then, has the added benefit of saving money.

But what about the expense of a gym membership? Doesn't it cost money to get exercise? It can, but it doesn't have to. For the cost of a pair of sneakers you can go jogging. If your knees aren't quite up to that, then you can walk.

"Walking is the most accessible form of physical activity available to people," said Michigan State University researcher Mathew Reeves.

Reeves led a team of researchers in a recent study that found people who walk their dogs were 34 percent more likely to be considered “physically active,” when measured using current federal benchmarks.

"What we wanted to know was if dog owners who walked their dogs were getting more physical activity or if the dog-walking was simply a substitute for other forms of activity," he said.

According to the data, dog walkers do indeed appear to be more active. Reeves says the results show that promoting dog ownership and dog walking could help many Americans -- of which fewer than half meet recommended levels of leisure-time physical activity -- become healthier.

Decades ago Americans got more exercise because daily life demanded it. Today, most people engage in a sedentary lifestyle that is expanding waistlines and degrading health. Recent research suggests sitting for long periods should now be considered risky health behavior.

Story provided by ConsumerAffairs.

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