In addition to building muscle, you also need cardiovascular training and increased flexibility. Together, these three components of exercise will affect your body in many ways.

  • Exercise increases your metabolism so you burn energy at a higher rate. It also decreases your appetite by turning on your sympathetic nervous system (which activates the fight-or-flight response). Test this out next time you have a hunger twinge at a random hour. Go for a quick jog and return home to find that your hunger’s gone!
  • If you don’t exercise because you feel pain, you may find that finding the right level of activity could help you lose a few pounds. This, in turn, will strain your joints less and may reduce your pain. If all goes according to plan, your mood will be boosted and motivate you to keep up with the exercise.
  • Exercise helps release endorphins, stimulating your brain’s pleasure centers. This gives you a sense of control (which should keep you from eating out of control).
  • Exercise works against depression and increases positive attitude.
  • Exercise keeps your blood vessels open and clog-free. This decreases your risk of high blood pressure, cholesterol, memory problems and heart attack.

QUIZ: Are You Getting Enough Exercise?There are countless benefits of exercise (really, there isn’t enough space to list them all here). In a world where we’re being told not to do things (don’t eat that, don’t make excuses), exercise is a great addition to your life!To see a change in your shape, try the following:

What You Need to Do How Much You Need to Do
Walking Ten thousand steps accumulated throughout the day (with at least 30 minutes of continuous walking).
Muscular strength Thirty minutes of resistance exercise a week.
Cardiovascular stamina Eighty percent of your max heart rate (calculated by 220 minus your age) for 20 minutes, three times a week. Also, you can measure it through exercise intensity. On a scale of one to 10, rate the intensity of your workout. You should exercise at about seven or eight on that scale, or 70 to 80 percent of your perceived maximum.
Flexibility Five minutes a day.