The start of a new year is just around the corner, and with the new year comes new years resolutions. Gyms are always busiest after everyone makes their resolution to get in shape, but why wait until then to get started?

Scientists at the University of Alabama at Birmingham have reported a list of benefits that should help push people, especially women, out the door and into the gym.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, women are less likely to follow the federal guidelines for adults of at least 2.5 hours of exercise per week.

Adults who do not engage in physical activity have an increased chance for:

Studies have shown that exercise may lower a woman’s breast cancer risk, said Marcas Bamman, Ph.D., director of the UAB Center for Exercise Medicine.

“Exercise as a means of preventing or reducing the risk of various cancers, particularly breast cancer, is important for two reasons: both the direct physical effects and the indirect effect, which is preventing or contributing to mechanisms that help prevent weight gain,” Bamman said.

The risk of cancer increases when a person puts on weight, he added. However, the benefits associated with being physically active is not just the reduction in breast cancer risk, especially for post-menopausal females.

“The body shape of post-menopausal women is more likely to change due to the removal of hormone-specific profiles like estrogen,” Bamman said. “Unless they exercise regularly and watch what they eat, they will have a tendency to gain more abdominal fat, which is the most dangerous, and their body composition will become more apple-shaped – like a man’s – instead of pear-shaped.”

For the majority of women who have already gone through menopause, Bamman’s suggested a mix of endurance and resistance training, three to four days per week.

Females should also be concerned about loss of bone mass because it can lead to osteoporosis, added Retta Evans, Ph.D., UAB associate professor of health education. Fortunately. Fortunately, exercise can fix this problem as well.

Evans explained:

“Starting at around 30 years of age, women begin to lose bone mass. Unless you are doing something to oppose that, such as weight-bearing exercise, it will continue. Resistance and weight training are the best, but things like walking or jogging in combination with weights are good enough.”

Certain activities, such as dance, kickboxing, and zumba, help keep bone mass in good condition. Swimming, however, does not help maintain bone mass because it does not involve>
Exercise, yoga in particular, can also help women with their posture, Evans pointed out. “Yoga helps to maintain your muscularity and that helps with maintaining your posture,” she revealed. “It also helps in stretching all of the muscle groups, front and back. Yoga is another great weight-bearing activity as well.”

Everyone has a different reason for working out, some do it to feel better and others do it to look better. Whatever the reason, it is important not to quit.

Evans concluded:

“The bottom line is people have to find something they enjoy doing and once they find something they enjoy they are more likely to continue. It doesn’t take anything except a pair of good walking shoes to start something as simple as walking around; anything that keeps the body moving as opposed to being sedentary can help contribute to a path toward better health.”

Written by Sarah Glynn