Couch potatoes, listen up: there’s a good reason (many, in fact) your friends and your doctor keep telling you to get up; to spend less time sitting and more time moving. It’s not so you can resemble a super model or even just to look better: in fact, how you look on the outside has nothing to do with their concerns. You will become thinner and look younger if you exercise but that’s just a side note. Events on the inside of your body matter more.

Assess your Heart

Take a measurement of your resting heart rate. Place two fingers on the inside of your wrist, find a pulse then count for ten seconds. Multiply the number by 6 and you have your resting heart rate which should be around one beat per second.

If yours is more rapid than 75 beats per minute, you could have a problem. High blood pressure is putting that muscle under strain. You could be one of the thousands of people each year who is admitted to hospital or deposited in the morgue because of heart disease.

A sedentary lifestyle is no good for your heart. Circulation is difficult: your extremities probably aren’t getting enough blood flow; possibly your brain is starving too. That blood flow problem is probably made worse by plaque building up in your veins and arteries. Lack of exercise and overeating are frequently connected. When you sit a lot you probably eat junk food too.

What Do You Think?

Think about that for a minute: your brain is not getting enough blood or oxygen. Blood circulates oxygen and also nutrients which promote brain health. Have you noticed anything changing in your ability to remember things? Does your head seem foggy sometimes? If things slip your mind or you suddenly can’t handle multi-tasking when this used to pose no problem, a change is taking place and your heart might have something to do with that.

How Do You Feel?

Put your physical feelings aside for one minute (numbness in the extremities, chest pains, etc.) and be honest about your emotions. It is common for individuals who do not exercise to experience depression. Pre-existing depression contributed to your choice to be sedentary, but lack of exercise is also exacerbating the problem.

As you lose any fitness you gained in younger years during Physical Education classes or while playing sports after school, you also lose confidence, muscle, and probably gain weight. You don’t want to go out, but isolation makes you more depressed.

Brain Pharmacy

Meanwhile, your body is storing special chemicals, waiting for the day it can release them into your brain and make you feel better. Hormones that control moods (including serotonin) are released during exercise and they give you a sense of cheerfulness, even euphoria. Your body will also release pain-killing chemicals which help you to deal with physical stress during a workout.

But it’s the stress you handle during a regular day which makes the biggest difference to your health overall. Exercise promotes a general sense of well-being, helps your body to keep up with physical demands, and makes you stronger in every sense of the word. You aren’t tired all the time or depressed. Certain parts of your day will not be stressful anymore and it’s easier to deal with genuine stress when it comes along.