Updated: Dec 7, 2020
You only live once. The body you’re in right now, is the body that will carry you through life - it is your vessel. Yet so many people are destroying their body with junk food, alcohol, stress and a sedentary lifestyle. These habits damage the body, resulting in diseases like obesity, type II diabetes, stroke and depression. Being fit is more than just a hobby: it’s a self care movement to increase longevity, lifespan and mental and physical health.
The truth is: exercise is essential
The Department of Health and Human Services recommends that adults should do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise per week or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity per week. As a general aim, aim for at least 30 minutes per day for good health. That’s not for weight loss or the attainment of any specific goal, that’s just for general heart health.
However, only one in three adults get the recommended amount of physical activity each week. These people are drastically increasing their risk of premature aging, poor cardiovascular health, diabetes, weight gain and accelerated muscle degeneration.
Why is exercise so beneficial?
Studies show that when you exercise, you place your body under brief periods of stress and inflammation that result in powerful and complex anti-inflammatory responses. These post-exercise responses strengthen each time you exercise, to boost antioxidant production, shift your hormones and improve your metabolic function to feel and perform better in everything you do in life.
Exercising increases the heart rate to increase blood flow around your body, which strengthens heart health and lung capacity, so that you can more efficiently transport oxygenated blood around your body.
During exercise, your muscles are required to effectively metabolize energy to use as fuel. This may be in the form of stored energy or circulating nutrients, which promotes the breakdown of fat stores to help maintain a healthy body weight.
Studies show that individuals who regularly exercise have a 35 percent decreased risk of developing heart disease or stroke, a 50 percent decreased risk of developing type 2 diabetes and obesity, age slower, have less age-related illnesses like sarcopenia, and experience less mental health problems.
Why is it more important now than ever to exercise?
According to a study conducted this year, 4 out of every 5 African Americans in the US are obese; 49.6 percent of the populationE - making them 50 percent more likely than caucasians to struggle with obesity and obesity-related conditions. Obesity is a major precursor to heart attacks, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and other inflammatory conditions. Thus, as African Americans, we need to take charge of our health.
What’s more, in the current climate of Covid-19, our health is even more at risk. The infectious disease, coronavirus, has been plaguing the US and the world for almost the entirety of 2020. Those most at risk for Covid-19 are older adults and those with pre-existing conditions. According to a study published in early September of this year, 94 percent of individuals who died from Covid-19 had pre-existing conditions, like obesity.
The stark reality is that the conditions caused by a sedentary lifestyle are increasing your risk of death, but they are entirely preventable. We as a country need to do more to feel better, and it all starts with daily exercise. Whether that’s going for a walk in the park with family or hitting the gym - whatever you do today, choose to move.