Diseases associated with physical inactivity are a huge public health problem in most countries of the world. The UK’s Chief Medical Officer (CMO) recommends a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity each week.
Moderate activity is when your breathing rate increases but you are still able to talk, like when you’re taking a brisk walk and chatting with your friend. Vigorous exercise is when your breathing is fast and you can’t talk, like when you’ve got 10 minutes to pick your child up from school and the school is 20 minutes away.
Remember though, that something is better than nothing. Even 10 minutes of exercise or physical activity is better than nothing, so if that’s all that you can do start there and work your up gradually.
Here are some of the Benefits of Regular Physical Activity/ Exercise:
If you’re working off those calories then they’re not going to make themselves at home around your waistline.
Studies have shown that exercise can treat mild to moderate depression as effectively as antidepressants, and without the side-effects. As well as relieving the symptoms, research also shows that regular exercise can prevent relapsing.
A friend of mine had some mental health issues and he swore by running. He’d run far and wide – fully clothed of course- for hours. It made him feel good.
Exercise causes the release of endorphins in the body. These are the brain’s ‘feel good’ chemicals. Someone told me that chocolate is made of endorphins😊 – wait – that was the chocolate angel in a dream.
Regular exercise causes muscles to increase in size, burn more calories (metabolism), and become more toned. Regular exercise also causes the heart muscle to increase in size and strength, resulting in a decrease in resting heart rate as your heart becomes more efficient and doesn’t need to pump as quickly to supply blood to the body during rest (Cardiac Output). The heart will pump more blood with every beat (Stroke Volume, increases at rest).
In response to the need to supply the muscles with more oxygen during exercise, the body increases its number of capillaries, the smallest blood vessels in the body, and the existing capillaries also open wider. Lung capacity is also increased.
According to Cancer Research UK, Scientists have shown that low levels of physical activity can increase the risk of certain cancers. A study published in December 2011 estimated that around 1% of cancers in the UK, around 3,400 cases every year, are linked to people doing less than government guidelines for physical activity each week. Read more here.
According to the British Heart Foundation Physical activity can help to reduce the risk of getting coronary heart disease. If you have high blood pressure, a high cholesterol level or diabetes, physical activity can help to improve these conditions and help protect your heart. Read more here.
When joints are being used in their full range, the body puts synovial fluid into them and this keeps our joints moving properly and stops our bones from grinding against each other. It acts like the oil in the hinges of a door. When there is enough oil, the door will open and close effortlessly, and when there isn’t enough oil the door will squeak and creek and be difficult to open and close.
We all know that exercise has an effect on muscles, leaving them toned or even bulkier. But did you know that exercise has an effect on bone (mineral) density and size? Like muscle, bone is living tissue that responds to exercise, particularly weight-bearing exercise, by becoming stronger. Exercise has been shown to help prevent the onset of osteoporosis, and to help manage it once it’s developed.
Have you ever got home tired after work and thought, oh no…my Zumba class in on tonight and I’m so tired…You don’t want to go out – until the kids start screaming at each other. You whip them soundly and put them to bed (that’s from a nursery rhyme by the way, no reflection on what I do before my Zumba classes), and run off to your class. You let your hair down, shake your botty and sing the few Spanish words you’ve learned. Before you know it, the class is over, and you’re feeling so energised. You could go on for another hour!
According to the National Sleep Foundation, and most people I know including myself, physical activity promotes better sleep. I’m sure most of us have had days when we’ve been running after kids and doing housework and other errands, and felt shattered at the end of the day.
Exercise has life changing benefits. If you haven’t already started being more physically active, then what are you waiting for? If you don’t like to exercise on your own, grab a friend, or join a local group.
For some ways to get more physical activity in your everyday life click here.
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