Are you as athletic as a decomposing corpse? Are your body and brain beginning to atrophy? Researchers believe that our current sedentary culture may be creating maladaptive genes, producing the effects that lead to chronic illnesses.

Our bodies were designed for activity

Our genes were designed with mobility in mind. In prehistoric times, if we werenâ??t strong or fast enough, we had an exceptionally short lifespan. Fitness was our passport to survival â?? and it still is. Frequent exercise is one of the most effective stress reduction tools at our disposal. Physical activity drains adrenaline and negative emotions, enabling us to deal with everyday conflicts and issues far more effectively.

Exercise relaxes tense muscles and promotes deep, restorative sleep

When we think hard our brain neurons function more intensely. Exercise improves the blood flow to our brains, pumping up the supply of sugars and oxygen that we require when thinking intensely. But the intensity of brain neuron function can build up toxic waste products. Wallowing in this waste is what causes confused thinking, but exercise can speed up the blood flow in our brains, flushing the waste products away faster while releasing hormones that stimulate the nervous system. Our brain is a state-of-the-art pharmacy.

Exercise is the key to the dispensary; releasing endorphins – anti-depressant and anti-anxiety substances. So itâ??s a highly effective way to pull ourselves out of the quicksand of stress induced depression. Because endorphins create this stress barrier, our cardiovascular and immune systems are protected from the wear and tear of dealing with stressful circumstances and situations that are part of our everyday lives. Physically fit people have less extreme physiological responses when under pressure than those who are not. Fit people therefore are far better equipped to handle the long term effects of stress without suffering ill health or burnout.

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Exercise is self respect in action!

When you make the decision to exercise regularly youâ??re affirming your self value; sending yourself a message that you are worth the effort. Exercise also transfers your focus, from mental and emotional challenges to physical challenges. Itâ??s a feeling of being overwhelmed by what is expected of you that causes a stress response, so indulging in regular physical activity gives you control over your body, creating a feeling of empowerment. Exercise stabilizes your blood pressure, pulse and heart rates. It improves digestion, reduces adrenaline levels, promotes a healthy appetite and restores or enhances libido. It keeps muscles, ligaments and tendons flexible and can prevent or minimize osteoporosis.

Physical activity is a highly effective anger management tool

You donâ??t have to buy into self-fulfilling prophecies and assume that at a certain age your joints are going to get stiff, youâ??re going to develop osteoporosis, youâ??re going to need a walking aid, youâ??re going to develop dementia or that sex is going to become an extinct pleasure.

Of course the chances are particularly high for all of these, and more, if you donâ??t exercise regularly, but they are not necessarily linked to age. When Iâ??m ninety, watch out for me pedaling my bike around the block at breakneck speed, practicing karma sutra positions (my eyesight may not be that good).  Try a new exercise from time to time â?? bungee jumping or skydiving for instance, just because youâ??ve never done it before; or think you canâ??t. There are well documented cases of 80 year old skydivers and 100 year old marathon runners; proof of what a regular dose of endorphin euphoria can do!

While All4Women endeavours to ensure health articles are based on scientific research, health articles should not be considered as a replacement for professional medical advice. Should you have concerns related to this content, it is advised that you discuss them with your personal healthcare provider.