Exercise and You: Why is Exercise So Important?

If you were to ask anyone in the medical community if exercise is beneficial, they’re likely to give a resounding, “Yes!” in response, especially those who specialize in physical therapy treatment. Physical therapists are keenly aware of the countless ways in which exercise can help their patients feel better.

Engaging in exercise is one of the easiest ways to improve one’s health status. There are so many options available today; from heart-pumping Zumba classes to swimming, biking, and so much more. Regardless of one’s fitness goals, if a person wants to increase muscle strength or reduce their stress levels, there is a way to help them reach their goals.  

Benefits of Exercise

There are so many aspects of exercise that benefit both the body and the mind. It can address issues such as muscle weakness and joint mobility issues. The right exercises can even help reduce pain levels associated with chronic issues such as arthritis. Heart-pumping exercises can help improve the cardiovascular system in a myriad of ways. Cardiovascular exercise can:

  • lower blood pressure
  • improve blood circulation throughout the body
  • increase lung (oxygen) capacity
  • strengthen the heart
  • reduce heart stressors such as inflammation and high cholesterol levels

The Mayo Clinic reports that exercise can help prevent or at least improve chronic health conditions such as asthma, type 2 diabetes, dementia, and more. Working out regularly can reduce one’s risk of developing certain illnesses such as:

  • breast cancer
  • colorectal cancer
  • prostate cancer

Many people report that exercise helps relieve stress symptoms and improves their mood by increasing their endorphin levels (also known as “runner’s high”). Group workout classes can provide people with an opportunity to socialize with others and develop lasting friendships. Lastly, as one ages, regular exercise can help prolong a person’s ability to live in their own home and maintain their independence.  

What is the Right Type of Exercise for Me?

It’s always a good idea to check with your doctor before beginning an exercise program. Physical therapists are another great resource for determining which type of program is most likely to help a person reach their fitness goals. For those currently receiving physical therapy treatment for an injury, it’s especially important to check with your physical therapist before trying out a new exercise.

Truly, there is an exercise to fit almost everyone’s abilities. There are plyometric exercises that incorporate explosive and dynamic movements to help improve agility (particularly helpful for certain sports activities). The opposite of plyometric exercise is endurance (aerobic) exercise. Endurance or aerobic exercise is great for improving aerobic stamina (the ability to be physically active for a long period). 

For a good cardiovascular (endurance) workout, the following activities are great options:

  • Biking
  • Jogging
  • Cross-training
  • Swimming
  • Using a jump rope

There are also different types of strength training. Light weights and a high number of repetitions help improve the shape and tone of muscles, while heavier weights (powerlifting), with a lower number of reps, can help a person build high levels of strength.

Do What You Enjoy!

The great thing about working out is that it comes in so many varieties. If your daily life is very stressful and includes a lot of interaction with other people, you may prefer a quiet, early morning swim at your local pool. Conversely, if you feel the need to connect with others, many communities sponsor group yoga or Pilates classes. Local colleges, high schools, and gyms typically offer a wide variety of options as well. Lastly, sometimes engaging in exercise is as simple as putting on a supportive pair of tennis shoes and walking around the block after dinner.


It’s never too late to start an exercise program. Whether you’re fairly physically healthy, or if you’d like help with reducing pain levels or improving muscle weakness or mobility issues, there’s an ideal one for you. Contact us at Cawley Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation to get started!