Everyone knows the most obvious and superficial benefits of being fit; a flat stomach, toned muscles, an attractive silhouette, being able to wear a tiny bathing suit on the beach; though these aspects of keeping fit are quite appealing, they do not even begin to compare to the deeper benefits that come from keeping yourself in good physical condition.

Beauty is More Than Skin Deep

You may be surprised to find out this expression rings true when it comes to being in shape. Regular exercise and maintaining a healthy body weight goes a long way not just for your figure, but for your skin too. Exercise eats away stress and keeps blood flowing through the entire body, both of which work to help in clearing up spots and improving the skin's natural radiance.

Deeper Health Benefits

Beyond the appearance benefits of keeping fit are many deep and long-lasting benefits that positively affect the body's disease-fighting abilities and aid in preventing injuries. Excess fat in the body often leads to high cholesterol, which collects in arteries and leads to high blood pressure and possibly fatal heart disease. For this reason, maintaining good cardiovascular conditioning and a healthy weight go a very long way in preventing heart disease.

Exercise Reduces Stress

One of the major benefits of regular exercise is stress reduction. Many people believe that stress does no more damage to the body than just ruining a person's mood, but in reality, stress causes the release of a hormone cortisol. Cortisol increases food cravings, increased fat reduction, and causes the release of free radicals into the body, which damage all the body's tissues. Exercise fights stress not only because of the release of excess energy during the activity itself, but also by releasing endorphins, which have a relaxing effect.

Financial Costs of Being Unfit

Many people do not realize the financial costs of not keeping fit. In 2009, the cost of prescription drugs to treat obesity-related illnesses in England alone was over £46 million (US$74 million), and it's more than likely risen since then. So when considering the importance of getting and remaining in good physical condition, take into account not only the extra costs of food to feed a larger body, the extra costs and medical bills from increased trips to medical appointments to treat the ailments that go along with not being fit, but also the cost of medications needed to treat these ailments. Medications for high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, high cholesterol, and other obesity-related conditions can be costly, and once you need these medications prescribed, the only way to work towards cutting these out is to get fit.

Extra Weight Matters With No Exercise

Just because you aren't morbidly obese does not mean that you enjoy the benefits of being fit; on the contrary. Even one extra inch of belly fat around your abdomen significantly increases your risk of developing cancer and various heart diseases and can disrupt certain hormones; without regular activity that gets your heart pumping and improves your cardiovascular fitness, your heart is at increased risk for illnesses such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure with every bit of extra fat you carry.

The benefits of keeping fit far outweigh those that are associated with not keeping fit. So be sure to exercise regularly and maintain a proper body weight to keep you healthy for years to come.

Source: http://www.ic.nhs.uk/pubs/opad11

This article is courtesy of Brunel University’s Physiotherapy department, a top London university for Physiotherapy masters courses.

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