Exercise. Why it matters

Movement is such a vital part of a balanced healthy lifestyle. Our incredible bodies have been designed to walk, dance, play, move, jump, skip and run. Yet we generally don't fulfil its potential. 

Here at WellMe we understand that not everyone is rushing off to the gym five times a week or busting our hill sprints before work. If that doesn’t sound appealing, it probably never will. The good news is there’s many ways to move your body and intense exercise you don’t enjoy isn’t a prerequisite to achieving the benefits. We know that everyone's lifestyles, preferences, and capabilities vary and we want to help you fit movement into your day in a way that works. 

Keeping active has such a profound effect on how we how we feel, our mood, overall health and the quality of our day-to-day life. 

The benefits of exercise

We tend to think of exercise for it’s weight loss benefits. In actual fact, the weight loss puzzle has more to do with nutrition, stress management and hormonal health than calories expended through movement. That’s not to say exercise doesn’t have tremendous health benefits. It does - whether or not the person goes on to lose weight. 

We are constantly bombarded with media articles about the war on obesity, but several researchers have debated whether the risks associated with obesity - type two diabetes, early death, cardiovascular disease or stroke are caused by obesity itself or behaviours correlated with obesity, such as lack of exercise or weight stigma resulting in failure to seek medical help due to feelings of shame. In other words, is possible to be ‘fat and fit’?  Public health psychologist Professor Traci Mann says yes it is.

Public health is being damaged by “our fixation with weight”, when focussing on encouraging people to exercise more could save lives, says Mann

“Obesity is correlated with three different things we do know are deadly and that do shorten lifespan: being sedentary, having a lower income, and not getting enough medical care.

One study of male veterans aged 40-70 found that regular exercise could improve longevity and reduce cardiovascular risk by half in overweight or obese men regardless of whether or not they lost weight.  

Another study found that when compared to normal weight-fit individuals, unfit individuals had twice the risk of mortality regardless of BMI. 

Fit overweight and obese individuals had similar mortality risks as normal weight-fit individuals. Furthermore, the study’s findings suggest researchers, clinicians, and public health officials should focus on physical activity and fitness-based interventions rather than weight-loss driven approaches to reduce mortality risk.

Other benefits of exercise. 

Ralph Paffenbarger, M.D., one of principal investigators in a Harvard Alumni studystates “Roughly for each hour a person exercised they can gain an extra 2 hours of life” How’s that for motivation to get out of the bed in the morning.

"And it's never too late to start."says  I-Min Lee, a Harvard Medical School epidemiologist who ran a study on exercise and longevity.“ You don't have to do intensive jogging, calisthenics, and weightlifting. Brisk walking, golf, tennis, gardening, and swimming can give you the benefit of extra years."

Here’s why exercise helps to keep you alive and healthy;

It increases blood circulation, which reduces the risk of heart disease.It improves your blood cholesterol.It helps to manage and control blood pressure.It helps to manage stress and anxiety.It strengthens your immune system.It promotes better sleep.It reduces the risk of depression.

If you are someone who is less inclined to bust out a one hour workout. That's ok! Start by looking at how much you are moving throughout the day and find pockets of time where you could increase that. Try walking up stairs instead of taking the lift. If you don’t have time for a 30 minute walk, consider several 5 or 10 minute brisk walks throughout your day. Try catching public transport or cycling to work. The possibilities are endless. 

Forcing exercise that doesn't appeal to you will mean it's very short lived, choose an activity that leaves you feeling great and have fun with it. The best exercise is the kind you actually do. Try new things until you find the right fit for you. 

In our next article we’ll look at unexpected pockets of time for movement throughout your day.