Why exercise is so important

Posted by Dayne Hudson in Wellness

Estimated reading time: 5mins

Why exercise is important for mental/physical health

How exercise improves your body and mind

For years, exercise has consistently been observed to assist us in preventing diabetes and obesity. Obviously, exercise helps create a deficit of calories and thus induces weight loss, which helps prevent some diseases that arise from being overweight. It has also been shown to reduce the likelihood of some cancers and helps us bolster our immune system.

And that's before we get to our mental health!

In the modern era, the stigma surrounding mental health is quickly fading, which means more information is being readily shared around how we can improve our mental wellbeing; we're learning more about how exercise can help us with depression, anxiety , cognitive impairments, and fatigue .

Exercise and reducing stress

Furthermore, exercise helps us deal with stress more. In the modern digital era, some of us have seen our working hours increase by default, which can exacerbate stress. 

And the good news here is that research has found exercise to create less stress in many populations; as extreme as veterans suffering from PTSD, athletes, and the aforementioned everyday person. 

Scientists also report that those who exercise regularly experience fewer daily hassles.

Choosing what type of exercise to do: cardio vs weights

The best general advice here is to perform the exercise you like doing.

However, we'd recommend resistance training for many reasons, not limited to the outcomes outlined in the research below:

"Ten weeks of resistance training may increase lean weight by 1.4 kg, increase resting metabolic rate by 7%, and reduce fat weight by 1.8 kg. Benefits of resistance training include improved physical performance, movement control, walking speed, functional independence, cognitive abilities, and self-esteem."

But if resistance training isn't your thing, playing a sport (individual or team), cycling or running, is all beneficial. Not to mention, how it can improve our quality of life as we age.

Weight training can seriously improve the quality of your life.
Weight training can seriously improve the quality of your life.

Preventing sarcopenia with resistance training and improving your life

Starting as early as our 40s, we're at risk of developing sarcopenia; a loss of muscle tissue and function. This makes things as simple as walking difficult.

And we can obviously combat muscle wastage with resistance training.

And for the elderly, the best way to bolster muscle tissue and strength in the elderly is with progressive resistance training. 

Although, cycling and even dancing can help, too!

But the truth is aerobic training is only a minor solution to sarcopenia long-term, and it's recommended we include resistance training weekly! 

No matter how old you are, it's best to get into the habit of resistance training as early as you can; trying to fight sarcopenia when it's already settled in is a lot harder.

Another benefit is resistance training's effect on bone density. Stronger bones will assist in a better quality of life!

Aerobic exercise for our hearts

Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death globally, and performing aerobic exercise is great for our hearts. Research suggests regular aerobic exercise is "robustly associated" with a decline in the chance of heart disease death, along with the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

But we must understand moderation here.

Too much cardio, like performing too many marathons, can be detrimental to heart health. But we don't know just how much is too much at this stage. Research tells us: 

"...a specific dose-response relationship between the extent and duration of exercise and the reduction in cardiovascular disease risk and mortality remains unclear."

Seek expert medical advice if you feel you may be overdoing it.

Resistance-training has a very positive effect on our body image.
Resistance-training has a very positive effect on our body image.

How exercise helps our body image

Those of you who have spent enough time exercising to see the physical changes know how rewarding this can be! Research into resistance training finds:

- An improvement in self-esteem
- An improvement in self-efficacy, which impacts the way we think about our body image and ourselves
- Anecdotally, the discipline regular exercise requires can spread into other areas of our lives like our career and everyday tasks.

The benefits of exercise are a healthier body and mind; helping you simply feel about yourself, and even reducing the likelihood of various diseases. Unless directed otherwise by a healthcare professional, the majority of the population should seek to implement resistance training and/or aerobic training into their weekly exercise routines, for a potentially healthier and happier life!

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