Primary Care in Rochester and Kasson

Enjoy the benefits of exercise

5/26/2022 by Benjamin Lai, M.B., B.Ch. B.A.O.


Spring is here, and summer is around the corner. This is a great time to take advantage of the warmer weather, get outdoors and incorporate more regular exercise. 

Exercise improves muscle strength and overall fitness, and it slows bone density loss. Studies have shown that older adults who exercise regularly are less likely to fall or sustain fractures. 

Together with a healthy diet, exercise can reduce the risk for heart disease and strokes. It's a fantastic way to help maintain a healthy weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar. 

What's more, being physically active is associated with a lower risk of developing certain cancers, including cancers of the breast, bladder and colon. 

Not only does exercise improve physical health, but also it helps improve mental health and well-being. Exercise can reduce anxiety levels and the risk of major depression. Exercising regularly can improve concentration, memory, mood and thinking. It also can improve sleep quality and overall energy levels. 

Most importantly, exercise can be fun. You can exercise individually or with others. It's a wonderful way to relieve stress. 

Moderate-intensity exercise is generally safe for most people, although you should consult with your health care team before beginning an exercise program. 

When taking part in moderate-intensity exercise, you can still comfortably have a conversation with another person, but you'd rather not. Adults are encouraged to incorporate 150 minutes of moderate-intensity every week. This means 20–30 minutes of exercise per day most days out of the week. This exercise does not have to be performed in one session. A 15-minute walk during your lunch break and another 15-minute walk after dinner would meet the daily requirement. 

If you are new to exercise, it's important to start low and go slow. Find opportunities to move more and sit less. Even a few minutes of exercise every day can reap significant benefits. The key is consistency. Exercising some every day will allow you to build strength and endurance over time, which will eventually help you achieve your exercise goal. 

So lace up and enjoy the benefits of exercise. 

Benjamin Lai, M.B., B.Ch., B.A.O., is a physician in Primary Care in Rochester and Kasson's Department of Family Medicine. He is the assistant medical director of Mayo Clinic's Opioid Stewardship Program and is involved in medical student and resident education. He is an avid year-round runner.