8 Rewards of Regular Exercise - Some you know and some you may not!
Coronavirus got you hunkered down at home? It’s likely you are much less active at the moment than you usually are. Each week we see new cases of acute and chronic injuries which are directly related to a lack of activity and a sedentary lifestyle. Here are 8 reasons why you should stay active - some of which you may not have been aware of!
1. Weight loss, Stronger muscles and bones
Certainly, these are more easily measured over-time, but larger improvements are made of many small ones. Weight loss and stronger muscles helps to take pressure off the joints and minimise the risk of future joint-related issues such as arthritis in the neck, low back and knees
2. Improved blood pressure and resting heart rate
With reduced cholesterol build-up in the arteries, lower blood pressure and heart rate is required to push blood through the artery network. Have you ever trained for a 5, 10 or 20+ km run, and found that a distance that was once difficult has become easier? This is partly because the heart becomes much more efficient and your resting heart rate has reduced - helping to increase overall fitness and exercise capacity. Regular exercise is an important aspect of healthy living. As the saying goes, prevention is better than cure, and without doubt regular exercise now is a much better alternative than needing to take ‘blood pressure medication’ in the future
3. Better posture
A large percentage of the issues we see are related to prolonged postures. Many of us have jobs which involve prolonged periods of sitting in front of a computer. A good habit which can start immediately is to get out of the chair every 30 minutes for a 30 second walk and basic stretches. Some instances this can be difficult, such as when driving, but otherwise this is a simple change that can go a long way to preventing and helping posture-related neck and back pain as prolonged load on the muscles and joints will increase the risk of having such issues. On top of this, there are many exercises which can be done to help strengthen muscles which are important for good posture. If traditional resistance/weight training is not your thing, yoga and pilates are also great for switching on postural muscles and healthy movement
4. Reduced stress & anxiety
We all have setbacks in life which can create unwanted stress. Research has shown that those who do regular exercise are able to cope with anxiety better than sedentary people and display stress for less time after a stressful event. Time spent exercising is time not spent focusing on stressful issues, helping to take your mind off of these. Not only this, but the body produces endorphins such as serotonin during exercises, this reduces perception of pain and triggers positive feelings - for eg, the "runner's high"
5. Reduced disease and illness
Sitting all day, everyday will kill you! That may sound a little over-dramatic, but a 21-year study finishing in 2010 showed that sitting for more than 23 hours a week increases the risk of heart disease by a massive 64% in men compared with those who sit less than 11 hours
How often do you catch a cold? People who exercise regularly are less likely to get them. In a study of 1000 people, those who exercised at least 20 minutes for at least 5 days a week had a 50% reduced risk of catching a cold compared to those who didn't. Even in those who still did catch a cold, it was less severe and they had less sick-days. Based on this, it wouldn’t be surprising if people who exercise regularly are more likely to fight off coronavirus
6. Increased confidence
Setting goals, working towards them, overcoming obstacles and setbacks and reaching those goals can give a great sense of accomplishment and give a confidence boost in all other aspects of life. It is a good idea to split a large goal into mini-goals that can be achieved along the way.
As an example of this, a study in 2013 showed that self-esteem can improve greatly in teenage males even if there aren't substantial changes in body composition. Any improvement in body composition and self-perceived improvement in appearance are also factors likely to help increase confidence.
The social aspect of group exercise also provides a healthy medium on which you can meet new people with similar goals, make new friends, and improve your social skills.
7. Improved memory
In the short-term, each time you exercise blood pressure increases temporarily to help pump blood all over the body and this includes the brain. Because of this, the brain gets more oxygen and energy - helping it to function better and explains why many people report that they think more clearly after doing exercise.
When you exercise, a section of the brain called the hippocampus becomes highly active. The area is important for memory and learning and helps to explain why activities such as running can improve abilities that involve memorisation. On top of this, aerobic exercise such as running and cycling can help to reduce shrinkage of the hippocampus, a normal process of aging, therefore improving memory in older adults.
8. Be happier
With all the improvements and changes for the better, there is no doubt you'll be happier over time!
How can we help you?
At Melbourne Sports Physiotherapy our goal is to get you moving pain free as soon as possible. But, we also want you to actually move better and live a healthier, more active and fulfilling life!
If your sports, fitness training or work has been wearing your body down, book in with one of our expert physiotherapists or massage therapists so we can help you reduce your pain and get you moving again.
You can make an appointment by calling 03 9498 0205 or booking online.