Why is exercise important?
At SHDC we believe that good health can be achieved through addressing five pillars of health, one of which includes how you move your body. So why is exercise and movement so important?
The first reason is because it increases the number of mitochondria in your cells, which are like a battery producing energy. It converts fat, glucose and protein into energy for the body. Regular exercise, particularly aerobic exercise, increases mitochondrial content. And because the number of mitochondria declines, as you get older, exercise is even more important.
The second reason to exercise is it stimulates ‘brain-derived neurotrophic factor’ which supports the survival and growth or neurons or nerves. In essence, exercise fertilises your neurons assisting with memory and learning and protecting against dementia.
Weight-bearing exercise also improves bone density and helps stability, which is important as you age. Exercise also improves quality of sleep.
The health benefits of regular exercise and physical activity are hard to ignore. And the benefits of exercise are yours for the taking, regardless of your age, sex or physical ability. Some of the benefits include;
- Exercise combats health conditions and diseases – Decreases unhealthy triglycerides, which decreases your risk of cardiovascular diseases. In fact, regular physical activity can help you prevent or manage a wide range of health problems and concerns, including stroke, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, depression, arthritis and certain types of cancer.
- Exercise improves mood – Physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals, like endorphins, that may leave you feeling happier and more relaxed. You may also feel better about your appearance and yourself when you exercise regularly, which can boost your confidence and improve your self-esteem.
- Regular exercise releases brain chemicals key for memory, concentration, and mental sharpness
- Exercise boosts energy, improves cardiovascular fitness, your muscle strength and mass and boosts your endurance. Exercise and physical activity deliver oxygen and nutrients to your tissues, improving your metabolism and help your cardiovascular system work more efficiently. And when your heart and lungs work more efficiently, you have more energy to go about your daily activity.
- Exercise promotes better sleep. The better you sleep the more likely you are to do exercise, and you know how important a good night’s sleep is to almost every aspect of health. Regular physical activity can help you fall asleep faster and deepen your sleep. Just don’t exercise too close to bedtime, as it elevates the cortisol (stress hormone) and you may be too energised to fall asleep.
- Exercise can improve your sex life. Do you feel too tired or too out of shape to enjoy physical intimacy? Regular physical activity can lead to enhanced arousal for women. And men who exercise regularly are less likely to have problems with erectile dysfunction than men who don’t exercise. Exercise also improves growth hormones and testosterone
- Exercise can be fun, just like feeling more energised, sleeping better and feeling healthier is fun. It gives you a chance to unwind, enjoy the outdoors or simply engage in activities that make you happy. Physical activity can also help you connect with family or friends in a fun social setting.
- Exercise controls weight. Exercise can help prevent excess weight gain or help maintain weight loss. When you engage in physical activity, you burn calories. The more intense the activity, the more calories you burn. You don’t need to set aside large chunks of time for exercise to reap weight-loss benefits. If you can’t do an actual workout, get more active throughout the day in simple ways — by taking the stairs instead of the elevator, getting off the bus one stop earlier, working in the garden, walking the dog or do work around the house.
- Exercise improves bone mineral content and density, joint stability and flexibility, and range of motion.
Movement, exercise and physical activity are a great way to feel better, gain health benefits and have fun. As a general goal, aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day. Exercising with family or friends makes it a social interaction and much easier and more fun to maintain. Form your own community or become part of one that shares in the fun.