Online Exclusive

Captain Mike Stefano's Top Five Reasons to Exercise

The summer is in full swing and here are the top five reasons to get in an exercise routine.

"If we could give every individual the right amount of nourishment and exercise, not too little and not too much, we would have found the safest way to health." Hippocrates (460-370 B.C.

The summer is in full swing and here are the top five reasons to get in an exercise routine.

1. Maintain a Healthy Body Composition
Obesity can lead to a host of chronic illnesses and reduced the quality of life. From diabetes to heart disease, stored excess fat interferes with the body's normal function. Study after study has revealed that exercise must be a component of any successful weight loss plan.

2. Enhance Physical Performance and Function
Use it or lose it. The body was meant to move, and the more movement the better. Unfortunately, our modern day sedentary lifestyle needs to be balanced with some manufactured movement, or what we call exercise. Our ancestors didn't need to manufacture exercise, because physical exertion was built right into daily life (hunting down dinner is one example). There is simply no other way to build strength and endurance.

3. Build Muscle Tone and Bone Mass
Strong, lean, functional muscle supported by dense bone. Wolff's law states that not only muscle, but bone will rise to the occasion, and after repeated bouts of exercise, actually change shape and/or density. The right type of exercise also increases muscle fibers and builds long lasting tendon strength.

4. Improve Mood and Emotional Health
Everybody has felt the exhilaration after an intense workout. Beside the sense of accomplishment felt, the body's natural feel good hormones are stimulated after training. Reaching long-term fitness or weight loss goals can also rev up those happy hormones.

5. Strengthen Heart, Lungs, Circulatory System
The heart learns to pump more blood with each beat, as each muscle cell builds fat absorbing mitochondria to enhance future performance. The spells endurance and staying power, propelled by a more efficient pump and hungrier muscles.

MIKE STEFANO, a Contributing Editor, is the author of The Firefighter's Workout Book and American Kettlebell Club (AKC) Fire/Rescue Advisor. For more information on kettlebell and firefighter workout programs, visit To read Mike's complete biography and view their archived articles, click here.