Following along this years theme of getting back to basics for getting your health on track, exercise is as important as eating well.
Now I know, I can here you all going "Nooo, please not exercise!!" but unfortunately, you need to move your body.For some this is easy, you love exercise and feel the benefits exercise provides so this blog may not be for you, which is great. For the majority of you exercise is that daily task you know you should be doing, but for whatever reason you just never quite get around to it. Now my opinion has always been that if you know why you have to do it, then you are probably more likely to actually do it. So this blog is all about explaining the benefits of regular exercise and physical activity.
Some of this information is well known and you would have heard it before but be patient, it's always worth going over, even the basics.
Physical activity or exercise can improve your health and reduce the risk of developing several diseases like type 2 diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease. There is a lot of research that supports these claims, so that's exciting to know that you can reduce your risk of these diseases just by moving your body. Now if there is higher genetic risk of these diseases for you then the need to exercise is greater. For example if you have breast cancer, research shows that by exercising for 30 minutes each day decreases your risk of reoccurrence by 45%. If you increase the intensity it's even higher and by increasing to 1 hour of high intensity exercise, that risk is reduced by 75%. Now I think that is amazing. So if it works for breast cancer, it's more than likely going to work for other cancers.
So physical activity and exercise can have an immediate as well as long-term health benefits. I was just listening to a webinar on anxiety and it's now known by observing the brains activity that just going for a walk around the block can change the brains response to anxiety immediately. So when you next feel anxious just go for a walk and move your body.
Most importantly, regular exercise can improve your quality of life, you actually feel better, with more energy, a happier mood as well as being more relaxed with better sleep quality. Who doesn't want that?
Here is a list of the most documented benefits of exercise and if you can add to this list, feel free.
If you are regularly physically active then there is a really good chance that
You reduce your risk of heart attack.
You will manage your weight more effectively.
You will have lower cholesterol and better sugar control.
You will definitely lower your risk of type 2 diabetes and as mentioned, some cancers.
Your blood pressure will be in a healthy range.
By including resistance training you will maintain and develop stronger bones, muscles and joints. Therefore reducing your risk of osteoporosis. Also did you know that the more you are able to maintain muscle mass and strength the better you age.
You lower your risk of falls as you have better co-ordination, agility and flexibility.
You will have much more confidence and better self esteem.
Regular physical activity improves brain health and psychological wellbeing.
There are a number of studies that have found that exercise helps depression and anxiety. Although there are many views as to how exercise helps people with depression and anxiety, it can certainly assist in blocking or distracting you from negative and worrying thoughts, and provides a great opportunity for increased social contact. Exercise also has the ability to alter brain chemistry by changing levels of chemicals such a serotonin, endorphins and stress hormones leaving you with a more positive mindset.
Now be honest, this is an impressive list on why you need to move your body, so no matter what your excuse (more on this later) here are a few guidelines on where to start. (Also check out my checklist on how to get started and stay motivated.)
You need to aim for at least 30 minutes a day. This is a moderate intensity form of exercise which should be done on all days. Now if that sounds like too much then just start with walking.
Physical Activity Guidelines - as stated by the Australian Government
Doing any physical activity is better than doing none. If you currently do no physical activity, just start and slowly build up to the recommended amount.
Be active on most days, preferably all days of the week.
Accumulate 150 - 300 minutes (2½ - 5 hours) of moderate intensity physical activity or 75 - 150 minutes (1¼ - 2½ hours) of vigorous activities each week.
Wow! - even I come under these recommendations so I understand that it's not easy for many reasons. My routine is with a group session, where I'm committed for 3 sessions per week. Mondays is a resistance session to build muscle, strength and co-ordination. Tuesdays and Thursdays I do a HIT bike session that really pushes my aerobic capacity. The other four days is a combination of walking, bush walking, gardening and other physical activities that interest me.
I really do try to be active most days as I do tend to be sitting at my desk for four out of seven days and you know that sitting is the new smoking as far as how bad it is for our health.
Check out my tips on how to get started and stay motivated.