We often hear that exercise is good for our physical and mental wellbeing, but do we know why? This article will provide seven reasons why you should introduce exercise into your lifestyle. All the reasons are backed up with scientific evidence that clearly demonstrates exercise is good for you.
1. Weight Loss
Aside from general health and wellbeing, one of the key drivers for individuals to undertake exercise is for weight loss. This is why pre-summer holidays and post-Christmas celebrations; fitness centres experience a high level of users.
The old adage still stands today, that in order to lose weight, the calories in must be less than the calories out. To explain: if the calories eaten are more than the calories burnt off, loss of body weight will not be achieved. By this principle, you could make no changes to your diet but introduce a daily exercise regime such as walking 30 mins and be able to lose weight over time.
To achieve a healthy body and mind, it is important to be mindful of the food eaten, ensuring a balance in macro and micronutrients.
2. Heart Fit
Lack of physical activity and obesity have scientifically been proven to contribute to cardiovascular disease. Furthermore, independent of weight, physical activity alone has also been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. This is because the heart is a muscle, and during exercise, the heart is working hard to pump blood around the body and to the working muscles. The fitter the heart gets, the more efficient it is at pumping out blood to the rest of the body. As the heart becomes stronger, the more blood is pumped with each heartbeat, and this enables the heart rate to slow. This also results in improved blood pressure control.
3. Reduce Blood Pressure
Exercise can help to reduce blood pressure, which is a significant factor in heart disease. High blood pressure places ongoing stress on the walls of the blood vessels that can cause them damage, leading them to leak or rupture. High blood pressure can also lead to the formation of clots that may travel to the brain and lead to a stroke.
In the short-term, exercise will increase blood pressure; however, after exercise, it should return to its pre-exercise state. Regular exercise will strengthen the heart leading to a reduction in blood pressure as the heart becomes more efficient.
4. Blood Sugar Level Control
This is actually a really important area. Diabetes Type 2 (T2) is characterised by increased levels of glucose (sugars) in the blood and requires extensive lifestyle changes. This is because the Insulin a hormone is not working effectively to remove glucose from the blood. Diabetes is also associated with a number of side effects, including vessel and nerve damage from the accumulation of excess sugar.
Obesity leads to an increased risk of being diagnosed withT2 being, but the good news is that exercise is able to help manage blood sugar levels – and as such, is an important element of a patient’s treatment plan.
Exercise enables blood glucose to be taken up by muscle cells and used in the form of energy. This is an excellent way of managing excess blood glucose levels by removing them from the blood and utilising it as an energy unit.
5. Mental Health
There is increasing scientific evidence indicating that exercise is good for mental health. There are several reasons why this may be case 1) exercise releases ‘happy hormones’ called endorphins, and 2) exercise leads to the release of neurotransmitters that are important for the brain and are able to lift the mood. These neurotransmitters include serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. There are reports that individuals participating in mild to moderate exercise have reduced or stopped taking anti-depressants. So while the impending exercise may feel daunting, you can guarantee you will leave in a better mood.
6. Reduce Risks of Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis, also known as brittle bone disease, is a disease where bone density is lost, affecting bone strength. Osteoporosis can occur during the ageing process, and this can lead to broken bones, pain, and mobility issues. Exercise can help maintain bone strength by combining weight-bearing exercises such as walking and jogging, with muscle strengthening exercises, including the use of light weights or body weight. This provides additional support for the musculoskeletal system and can prevent injury.
7. Improve Sleep Quality
Poor sleep quality and insomnia is quite a common occurrence and may occur for a number of reasons. During the COVID-19 pandemic, increased stress levels have been reflected in poor quality sleep for some. The good news is that exercise can promote better quality sleep. Good quality sleep is essential for many aspects of physical health, including supporting immunological functions, stress, anxiety, and cardiovascular health. Regular exercise has been scientifically proven to improve sleep quality and to increase the duration of sleep. So, don’t feel guilty about that extra half an hour in bed.
There is no doubt that exercise is good for you. It is important to find something that you enjoy. Most exercise programs will include a balance between aerobic exercise, resistance training, and stretching activities. In combination with a healthy and balanced diet, you will become healthier. If you have any underlying health condition, always seek professional advice from a medical professional before starting an exercise programme. This is not to say you cannot undertake a programme; it may require monitoring and some specific guidance regarding the type of exercise that can be performed.
So, how about you take that first step on embarking on a healthier you today.