Benefits of physical activity & exercise
Being physically active on a regular basis is great for your body!
- Improve physical function – eg mobility and physical fitness
- Strengthen muscles and bones
- Decrease breathlessness
- Improve blood flow/circulation
- Increase flexibilty and suppleness
- Achieve better balance and coordination
Regular physical activity can improve your mental health and wellbeing! You are likely to feel happier, more satisfied with life and have an improved sense of wellbeing if you are physically active.
- Sense of wellbeing
- Sleep patterns
- AND can form part of an effective treatment plan for depression and anxiety-related disorders.
There is overwhelming scientific evidence that people who lead active lifestyles are less likely to suffer from illness and more likely to live longer. Physical activity not only makes you physically fitter, it also improves your mental health and general sense of wellbeing. Some of the health benefits of physical activity are:
- Reduced risk of heart disease and stroke – Inactive people have almost double the risk of dying from heart disease compared with people who are active.
- Prevention or reduction in high blood pressure – High blood pressure (hypertension) is common – about half of all people aged between 65 and 74 have it, but it often has no symptoms. Cardiovascular/aerobic exercise can help lower your blood pressure and make your heart stronger. Examples include walking, jogging, cycling (stationary or outdoor), exercise classes and swimming.
- Improved cholesterol levels – Regular physical activity, such as brisk walking or cycling, is linked to higher levels of HDL (“good”) cholesterol, and lower levels of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol.
- Healthy blood sugar levels – Increased blood sugar levels can lead to the development of Type 2 diabetes. Poorly controlled blood sugar levels can eventually damage your eyes, nerves, kidneys and arteries. Physical activity can lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, and if you already have it regular exercise is important to help control your blood sugar levels.
- Mobility and joint improvements – Osteoarthritis is the most common joint problem and affects nearly everyone over the age of 60. Regular, moderate activity, especially walking, has been linked to a lower risk of osteoarthritis. Also, you are more likely to have joint pain or lower back pain if you don’t do any exercise. Osteoporosis (low bone density) is when your bones become brittle and prone to fracture. You can reduce your risk of developing osteoporosis by doing high-impact exercise such as running and skipping. However, choose low-impact, weight-bearing exercise, such as gentle walking or swimming, if you already have osteoporosis.
- Reduced risk of developing certain cancers – Physical activity can help prevent certain types of cancer occurring and for those recovering from cancer can have a positive impact on recovery; including reduction in some cancer-related side effects, reduction in the risk of cancer recurrence and the risk of developing a new cancer.
- Weight management and weight loss – Excess calories are stored as fat, so you put on weight when you eat more calories than you use. Physical activity uses calories and so helps to create a healthy energy balance. For many people, exercise is essential for maintaining a healthy weight, whilst combining regular exercise with a healthy diet is considered the most effective way to lose weight.