Tap into whatever advantages of exercise work for you.

Most people are aware of the advantages of exercise...aren't they? Especially exercise to lose weight.

But while we hear about it, often and consistently in the media, we read it in the newspapers, and the number of gyms, personal trainers and clubs for exercise is increasing, are we actually paying attention?...The obesity rate is also rising, or at least it's not dropping, so is the incidence of heart disease and major illnesses, osteoporosis and general unfitness.

I must admit, exercise for general health, or for a few extra years of life when I reach my nineties, didn't motivate me much, but I also have to admit, that when it comes to moving more, or exercise, to lose weight...that was something that motivated me.

While I started consciously moving more so that I could increase my weight loss, and so that I could continue to keep it off, I have noticed some of the other advantages of exercise...I've even tested out some of the theories on what exercise does for you...bugger, I think they're right...it does improve my mood, my energy levels and my skin. Let's have a closer look at some of the advantages of exercise. Ask yourself...which of these strike a chord with you? Which ones can you add to a motivational reminder list of why you're doing it?

Note: exercise doesn't have to mean a regimented routine, or class. Exercise is also moving more, with more energy and as often as possible.

Advantages of exercise - using exercise to lose weight

1. As you exercise you move your body, moving your body makes it use energy. Energy comes from not only the food we've put in on that day, but from our fat stores too. To get rid of those unwanted pounds, you need to put in less energy than your body will use...then it will drag it's energy from the stored reserves (fat) on your body.

2. Muscle burns a lot of energy. As you exercise your muscle strength and muscle size increases. These muscles burn fat. They need a lot of energy to move your body through the motions. So, while your body is using energy to move, your muscles are also increasing as you use them more (don't worry, you won't wind up like the Incredible hulk...but you will have toned, dense and lean muscle tissue). As these muscles increase, they demand more energy...therefore burning more of the fat stores. It's a win, win, situation. Tighter toned body because of the muscle work, less fat and more energy burned.

3. When you exercise to lose weight, don't forget the after effects! When you exercise you increase your bodies metabolic rate, basically the speed at which it works, so that it can keep up with the extra demands. But, this effect doesn't stop as soon as you stop moving, the body continues to keep the metabolic rate up for a while after you exercise...so, for a while you'll actually be using more energy just sitting on the couch!

4. Moving doesn't only draw it's energy from the fat stores you see on your arms, your stomach, face and thighs, it also draws from the really dangerous fat that sticks to and builds up around your organs. Yes, there's not only the fat you can see under the skin, there's also fat internally around the vital parts of your body.

Advantages of exercise - the improvements to your body, inside and out

1. A study by Northwestern University has found that living an inactive lifestyle can contribute to reducing your mental abilities and sleep quality as you age. I definitely find that if I've moved a lot, been active for most of the day, I sleep much better, and that I can concentrate more and for longer periods, when I'm at my desk....and I'm not even that old yet.

I've also found that if the kids have had a busy day, in terms of activity, not busy playing the Wii, or watching T.V. or reading, they sleep much better too.

2. Another of the advantages of exercise is that is lowers your risk of heart disease. Your heart is a muscles, like your thigh muscles or calves, it needs exercise too. When you ,move more, the heart has to pump more blood, this strengthens it. There have been studies that suggest that those people that are physically active are only at half the risk of developing heart disease.

3. Being active, and actively involved in exercise also lowers blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and the risk of stroke, diabetes and osteoporosis.

4. High blood pressure can be a consequence of stress, and exercise and activity can lower the stress levels. While I'm not sure if a machine would prove the theory, if I'm feeling stressed and strung out...any activity, a walk, a swim, 10 minutes kicking the soccer ball with my kids can improve the way I feel. I think the mental agitation you feel with stress is alleviated even if only for a while, while you're working your body (this is no medical opinion of course, just my thoughts)

5. Exercising, especially weight bearing exercise, like walking and running strengthens your bones. I'm not sure if I'm getting this benefit...I suppose I'll have to wait and see how quickly I need my first hip replacement...

6. Moving increases the blood flow, because the hearts pumping more, it also increases the amount of oxygen your body takes in, the lungs work better. But this increase in oxygen does other things too, it feeds the skin, the hair, and the brain. All of which then can function better.

Advantages of Exercise - it's great for the self esteem too

This happens on two levels. When you make being active part of your life, you will lose weight, losing weight will make you feel better about yourself. You'll start to smile more, you'll walk straighter, hold your head up higher.

There's a great feeling generated by exercise itself, while you're experiencing a confidence lift as the weight drops off, you're also experiencing a boost because activity releases hormones that make you feel good.

It's a bit like your body thanking you. When you exercise your body, all the parts, bones, muscles, skeleton, skin, organs, are getting what they need - movement for strength, more oxygen and blood flow. In return, your body releases the chemicals that make you feel better.

So, it's a great circle, the more you move your body, the more you feel good because you are losing weight, the better you also feel because your shaping up and you know you're looking better, but you're body is helping you by sending out the chemicals that help you feel better. So, you exercise more, to get more of this good feeling.

Sometimes I think we just need to remind ourselves of the advantages of exercise, we need to focus on the ones that will motivate us on any given day.

It might be that you're feeling a bit flat, a little stressed out...remind yourself that a little exercise will help you feel better.

It might be that you've noticed you're a little tires, or haven't moved much lately, so remind yourself that you'll have more energy if you actually use some energy...do a little exercise.

Find what motivates you to move at any given day...remember all the advantages of exercise - increases energy, eats fat, increases your life expectancy and reduces the risk of major illnesses, and just makes you feel better! Then find an exercise or some extra moving that you can do...and do it!

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