We all know exercise is important for our health, happiness and of course, our overall fitness - knowing is the easy part - but how beneficial is it for you? Whether you are running, cycling, working out at the gym - any physical form of exercise can offer more than meets the eye.
So back to basics, the definition of exercise is activity requiring physical effort, carried out to sustain or improve health and fitness. If we look back at our ancestors, they were always on the move, whether it was for travel, to find food, socialising & work. In today's society the modern world has progressed in many ways to make our lives "easier" and in turn, cutting out a lot of the physical activity that was once easily incorporated into everyday life & has become what can be seen as unenjoyable or a chore. A large portion of adults & children today lead a relatively sedentary lifestyle, which is defined as engaging in no physical activity in a two week period. Therefore not being nearly active enough to reap the benefits. So what are the benefits of making those small changes in life to become more active?
Physical activity makes you feel good because it releases chemicals such as endorphins & serotonin, these make you feel good & reduce symptoms in those that suffer from anxiety or depression. Even if you don't suffer from any mental health issues, physical activity will enhance your wellbeing and vitality & on top of this, studies have shown that those who engage in regular exercise experience higher levels of optimism.
Joining a gym, run group or bootcamp will also help you get out in the world & in touch with other like-minded individuals & reduce those feelings of loneliness and isolation.
Exercise decreases the risk of disease, boosts your immune system & is the easiest & cheapest form of preventative care! Studies show that regular physical activity can cut the risk of common chronic illnesses such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, arthritis & cancer.
Aerobic exercise can help improve your heart health, endurance & aid in weight loss. Strength training improves muscular strength & endurance & provides stability in joints. Flexibility/stability exercises can assist in having an optimal range of motion in your joints & help reduce the risk of falls & injury.
Physical activity boosts your energy levels. It may sound counterintuitive but using your energy to go for a quick run, walk gym session will pay off with increased energy levels in the long run. If you are often inactive & physically fatigued, being a little more active will be more beneficial for your health rather than craving that quick hit from a coffee or an energy drink. Exercising requires an increased consumption of oxygen which in turn increases our lung capacity. Over time this allows you to deliver more oxygen to your brain and blood stream, helping you feel more awake, alert and ready to take on your day-to-day chores. Getting a little more active will also improve your sleeping patterns, assists in the treatment of insomnia & encourages learning & memory.
Australian Government guidelines recommend 30 minutes of physical activity everyday to achieve the ongoing benefits. The bottom line is physical activity is a great way to increase energy levels, boost self esteem & improve your future. Find something you enjoy so it no longer feels like a chore, team it with a balanced diet & you'll be feeling great in no time.
If you're not sure where to start, here's a couple of tips: