Why we all need to Exercise
It’s never too late to start exercising. Exercise is vital at any age and holds numerous benefits for your mind and body. Spring time is here. The sun is rising earlier and the days are getting warmer. Now is the perfect time to start moving or get back into your exercise routine again! Read on to see why we all need to exercise.
In this two-part blog, we give you the best information and advice on the following:
- The amazing benefits of exercise
- Why we all need to exercise
- Exercise for different age groups
- Where to start
- Top tips on how to incorporate more physical activity into your day
- How to overcome obstacles to physical activity
- Safety during exercise
1. The Amazing Benefits of Exercise
Regular physical activity has been shown to significantly improve our health[2;5;7]. Being more physically active is the most important thing you can do to be healthier and live a happy, fulfilling life. Starting to exercise may be challenging or intimidating at first. However, once you start, you will begin to feel and see the wonderful benefits it has for you.
The physical benefits of exercise include improving your muscle strength and making your bones denser and stronger. Stronger muscles help to protect your organs, joints, and bones, which reduces your chance of injury and pain.
Regular exercise that gets your heart rate and breathing rate up improves your cardiovascular endurance. A strong heart and healthy lungs are able to provide fresh oxygenated blood to the rest of your body. By improving blood flow, your blood vessels stay open and elastic. This is why a healthy circulatory system can help prevent and manage chronic medical conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes. Blood flowing to your muscles, organs and joints supplies them with fresh oxygen and nutrients to improve their function. People with diabetes can thus manage their blood sugar levels by regularly promoting more blood flow through exercise. Exercise therefore also prevents blood clot formation, which is a risk for people who sit a lot or who have cholesterol or high blood pressure.
Children and adolescents need a healthy heart and well-functioning organs. Fresh oxygen and nutrients provide the building blocks for growth and development. Strong muscles and bones are also developed by being physically active. Your childhood is the foundation of your life ahead. Having a strong, healthy body during your childhood is like a shield you carry to protect you against diseases and other problems that come with age.
In addition to having a stronger and better-functioning body, exercise will help you to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight[2; 7]. Being overweight is a major risk factor for other chronic health conditions. Exercise stimulates the release of serotonin: a hormone that, among other things, controls your appetite. It also boosts testosterone in both men and women which promotes metabolism and muscle development. Low levels of testosterone have been associated with obesity. Other hormones called endorphins are also released when you exercise. Endorphins are your body’s natural feel-good hormones. This, together with the self-confidence boost you will get by losing weight, will make you look and feel amazing!
Finally, being more physically active will improve your sleep. Again, the serotonin that is released during exercise is responsible for a good night’s rest. Getting good sleep helps your body recover and rejuvenate, making you more resilient and energized for the next day, and for your life ahead!
Of course a stronger, healthier body allows you to carry out and enjoy everyday life activities. Things like climbing stairs, carrying grocery bags, or playing with your friends, children or grandchildren will become easier and more enjoyable. Exercise improves your overall functional ability and therefore also your quality of life.
As we mentioned, exercise makes you feel great. Thanks to the release of special hormones, regular physical activity has been shown to improve mood and self-esteem[1; 2; 7]. Exercise is a wonderful way to help manage feelings of depression or anxiety. You will also notice that by moving your body more often, you will become more productive in your work and everyday life.
Of course the improved sleep will also have a positive effect on how you feel in general. You will feel more energetic and empowered to take on daily tasks and challenges.
Cognitive (Mental) Benefits:
Exercise and physical activity has been shown to improve thinking, learning, concentration and other cognitive abilities. A healthy mind helps us grow and learn when we are young. Children who are physically active generally perform better at school. A sound mind is also important as we age. Regular exercise and physical activity will help maintain your cognitive function as you get older[1; 2; 7].
Research has shown that adults who exercise during the day feel healthier and perform better at work. These people generally have increased motivation and energy to complete work-related tasks. They also demonstrate better moods and experience less stress.
Regular exercise and physical activity is associated with a lower prevalence of chronic health conditions. It reduces your risk of developing conditions like diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, metabolic syndrome, cancer, osteoarthritis, pain and depression[1; 3; 5; 7].
If you have an existing medical condition, exercise can help you manage your symptoms. You will be able to live a much more fulfilling and enjoyable life if you include exercise as part of your management strategy for your conditions.
2. Why Everybody needs to Exercise
After reading about the enormous benefits that exercise has for you, you should be asking yourself: “Why not exercise?”! Being more physically active can be very easy, inexpensive and enjoyable. As physiotherapists, we understand that exercise is not for everyone. You may have an injury or chronic health condition that you think prevents you from doing exercise. Perhaps you struggle to find time, energy or motivation to exercise. Whatever your circumstances, we would like to encourage you and your family to become more physically active in a way that best suits you.
In addition to the many benefits discussed above, exercise is a great way for you to socialise and have fun.
3. Exercise for Different Age Groups
The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) gives recommendations for physical activity for different age groups. The CDC aims to encourage people to improve their overall health by moving more and sitting less.
Preschool-aged children between the ages of 3 and 5 years should be physically active throughout the day. Active play is vital for healthy growth and development. Parents should encourage their children to be active when playing.
Children & Adolescents:
For those between the ages of 6 and 17 years, they must get a minimum of 60 minutes of physical activity each day. This should include moderate-to-vigorous intensity activities such as running or playing sport, as well as some sort of strengthening activity. The more variety of activities they can do the better.
The healthy habit of making physical activity part of everyday life can be established in childhood. This increases the likelihood that the child will continue to be physically active and healthy into adulthood.
Adults between the ages of 18 and 64 years should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week. Additionally, they should include strengthening exercises on at least 2 days per week. The total of 150 minutes can be broken up into shorter sessions throughout the week.
Exercises of moderate-intensity will get your heart rate and breathing rate up but you should still be able to have a conversation. Vigorous exercise means that you can only say a few words before having to pause for a breath.
Adults over 65 years:
For adults over the age of 65 years, the recommendations are the same. However, your strengthening exercises should focus on improving function, and should therefore target all your major muscle groups. Getting the recommended amount of physical activity will promote healthy ageing and prevent or delay many of the health issues that seem to come with age. It will also help you be independent for as long as possible.
Including balance and flexibility exercises will prevent falls and general stiffness. Falls are common in elderly people and often result in hip fractures. A hip fracture can have serious complications and functional limitations. Prevention is better than cure, so be sure to strengthen and condition your body to better cope with the inevitable challenges that come with ageing.
How we can help you
If you already have existing health problems that prevent you from achieving the minimum guidelines, try to be as physically active as your abilities allow you to be. There are numerous ways to move your body. As physiotherapists, we can help you find the kind of physical activity that will support your daily living and independence as much as possible.
In Part 2 of this blog, we provide great tips on how to include more physical activity into your day. We also discuss some of the most common obstacles that may be preventing you from being physically active, and give you the best advice on how to overcome these.
If you already feel encouraged to increase your activity and would like to discuss it with one of our physiotherapists, please don’t hesitate to make a booking! Call us, send a whatsapp or email, or simply book your appointment online. See our website: www.justphysio.co.za
Otherwise, look out for Part 2 of “Starting to Exercise at any Age – Why we All Need to Exercise”!