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10 Health Benefits of Regular Exercise for Men

Why bother working out? Whose got time to walk? Find out what regular exercise can do for you.
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Moderate exercise even a couch potato can manage continued...

“It’s hardly news now that exercise keeps your heart and lungs working efficiently,” says Steven Blair, PhD, professor of exercise epidemiology at the University of South Carolina and one of the country’s leading exercise scientists. “But we’ve also come to understand that exercise can help prevent adult onset diabetes, improve bone health, and even lower the risk of some cancers. Physical activity also appears to help ease depression for some people.”

Still not convinced you should hoist yourself up off the couch? Consider the following 10 health benefits you can get from even a moderate regular workout.

Exercise Health Benefit 1: Lower cholesterol

As most men get older, cholesterol numbers begin to move in the wrong direction. Levels of so-called bad cholesterol — low-density lipoprotein (LDL) — gradually increase. Levels of good cholesterol, called high-density lipoprotein (HDL), tend to fall. Unfortunately, that combination of high LDL and low HDL is one of the leading risk factors for heart disease. Excess cholesterol accumulates on the inner lining of blood vessels, leading to arthrosclerosis and heart attacks. The best way to keep LDL cholesterol levels down is to eat a diet low in saturated fat (the kind found in meat and high-fat dairy products.) The single best way to boost good HDL cholesterol? Exercise. A 2007 Danish study of 835 men found that regular physical activity was consistently associated with higher levels of HDL cholesterol. A meta-analysis of 52 exercise training trials, including 4700 subjects, found that HDL levels increased an average of 4.6 percent — enough to take a significant notch out of heart disease risk.

Exercise Health Benefit 2: Lower triglycerides

Triglycerides are a form of fat found in the blood. Rising triglyceride levels are associated with increased risk of heart disease. The same Danish study that found higher levels of HDL showed that the most active men also had the lowest triglyceride levels.

Exercise Health Benefit 3: Lower risk of high blood pressure

As blood pressure climbs, the risk of heart disease and stroke accelerates. Unfortunately, blood pressure levels typically climb as men get older. But they don’t have to. In a study published in 2007, University of Minnesota researchers followed men and women 18 to 30 years old for up to 15 years. The more physically active the volunteers were, the lower their risk of developing hypertension.

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