Physical activity provides numerous physical and psychological benefits that help reduce stress and enhance well-being.
Oxygen is the essence of the life force, and every cell in the body needs it to function properly. When you engage in physical activity and movement, your body's cells receive oxygen, obtain the nourishment they need, and eliminate waste products (such as carbon dioxide and lactic acid). Your blood vessels dilate as the demand for oxygen increases, allowing more blood to surround tissues and cleanse cells. The increased demand for blood flow carries oxygenated, nutrition-filled blood and lymphatic fluids to every cell in your body.
Lymph fluid differs from blood in that it is not pumped like blood but rather undulates, moving in wavelike motion in response to muscle contractions. Lymph pathways form a lace-like network throughout your body and function to remove excess fluid from body tissues, absorb and transport fatty acids to the circulatory system, and produce immune cells.
Physical activity stimulates bone marrow to produce more oxygen-carrying cells. Cells become stronger, and both the heart and lungs become more effective. As time goes on, this increased effectiveness means that, at rest, these organs do not have to work as hard to function properly.
The short-term effects of physical activity (both neural and hormonal) last approximately 36 hours, however the long-term benefits require continuous training to obtain and maintain.
If physical activity levels are maintained, impressive physiological changes occur after just 6 weeks, for example improved immunity, sleep quality, movement of joints and muscles, strength and endurance, self-confidence, libido and sexual function, decreased resting heart rate, resting blood pressure, and muscle tension, as well as decreased levels of chronic pain.