The Short- and Long-Term Benefits of Exercise

Exercise does a body good.  Not only is it the key to losing weight, it's also the key to healthy, happy golden years.  That's because exercise provides lifelong benefits for our health, wellbeing and appearance. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, more than 60 percent of adults don't get enough exercise and 25 percent don't exercise at all.  As people age, they become more and more inactive too.  The good news is that no matter when you start, what shape you're in or what your health challenges are, exercise will always provide benefits.  So, what is exercise good for?

Short-term Benefits of Exercise

What will exercise do for you right now?

  • Reduce stress in as fast as 25 minutes by lowering blood pressure and stress hormones and increasing endorphins (feel good hormones).
  • Increases self-esteem and self-confidence because you know you're taking care of yourself
  • Gives you a break in your day and a change of activity

Medium-Term Benefits of Exercise

What will exercise do for you in the near future?

  • Help you lose weight and maintain a healthy body weight
  • Strengthen your muscles and bones.
  • Improve cardiovascular fitness and lower your blood pressure
  • Improve muscle and joint flexibility
  • Keep your blood sugar stable
  • Contribute to your sense of wellbeing and reduce anxiety, stress and depression
  • Keep your hair and skin healthy and glowing by increasing oxygen and nutrients reaching the skin surface.
  • Rev up your metabolism by increasing muscle mass.
  • Improve your sex life - people who exercise have sex more often and enjoy it more.
  • Improve your immune system - you'll get fewer colds and flues
  • Improve your digestive system and prevent constipation.

Long-Term Benefits of Exercise

What will exercise do for you over the course of your life?

  • Reduce your chances for developing heart disease, cancer, diabetes, stroke, anxiety and depression.
  • Reduce your chances of dying early.
  • Keep you on your feet and out of a nursing home.  Seniors who exercise have better balance and flexibility and stronger bones.  They have fewer falls and breaks and less disability.
  • Sharpen your thinking skills and maximize circulation to the brain.
  • Improve your overall outlook on life because you're healthier, happier and looking good - Exercise is the real fountain of youth.

How much exercise do you need to reap all these benefits? Adults need:

  • 2 hours and 30 minutes (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (like brisk walking, biking or swimming) every week plus strength training two days per week using all major muscle groups.


  • 1 hour and 15 minutes (75) of vigorous-intensity aerobics (like jogging or running) plus strength training two days per week.

If that sounds like a lot, it's only about 30 minutes per day and small increments add up.  If you can't find time for 30 minutes in one session - try for three 10-minute sessions. It's all good.