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‘If exercise were a pill, it would be one of the most cost-effective drugs ever invented.’

There are a few motivations to get us moving more and taking up exercise; one of the most common being to lose some weight. Although dieting alone can often be the go-to method to achieve that, it’s worth knowing that it is loss of body fat and not muscle loss that’s most important for your health. If you only restrict calories to lose the pounds and don’t bother exercising, a lot of the weight you lose could be muscle tissue and fluid. Exercise builds muscle mass and in terms of health, cardiovascular fitness is one of the greatest predictors of our mortality and has the single most impact on our abilities to perform everyday activities. You might thank us for this information when you can still get yourself out of the bath at 90!

It’s well-reported that our sedentary lifestyles are causing us all sorts of problems. An article published in the journal Diabetic Medicine projected that the NHS’s annual spending on Diabetes alone in the UK will increase from £9.8 billion to £16.9 billion over the next 25 years; a rise which means the NHS would be spending at least 17% of its entire budget on this condition alone. Regular exercise coupled with a healthy diet is proven to prevent and manage a whole range of health problems including Type 2 Diabetes. If this condition is well managed people can, and do, live long and fulfilling lives. It’s possible to reverse this condition through weight and lifestyle management, although medication seems to be preferred prescription.

The more active we are, the better our heart and lungs work. We are far less likely to get life-shortening diseases including;

  • Coronary artery disease – being active boosts good cholesterol and decreases the bad, keeping your blood flowing smoothly around your body
  • High blood pressure – your heart gets bigger and stronger, that means your blood pressure can be lower
  • Some cancers – 4 in 10 cancers can be prevented largely by making lifestyle changes
  • Type 2 Diabetes, as already mentioned

There are 3 types of exercise – aerobic, resistance and flexibility

  • Aerobic exercise increases endurance
  • A resistance workout increases your muscle strength
  • Flexibility exercise improves the full range of motion of your muscles and joints

So, there are plenty of positive reasons for being physically active, another encouraging one which particularly applies to those of us who, shall we say, have had more life experience – the delightful brain fog that comes with the ageing process. Newsflash! Exercise changes the brain in ways that protect memory and thinking skills.

In a study done at the University of British Columbia, researchers found that regular aerobic exercise, the sort that gets your blood pumping around your body and breaking into a sweat, seems to increase the size of the hippocampus, which is the area of our brains responsible for verbal memory and learning. Resistance training and flexibility exercises didn’t have the same results though, so it’s still important to have a good balance of all types of exercise to get the full benefits.

We can see from these examples that exercise is both physically and mentally healthy.

Millions of us suffer from some type of mental illness, including depression and anxiety. Exercise can help us to manage the symptoms and encouragingly, both aerobic and strength training have been proven to successfully treat these conditions. In one trial, exercise was found to be as effective as anti-depressants. Exercise of any kind acts as a natural stress reliever; whether it’s a stroll in the country, dancing to your favourite tunes, or a 50-mile bike ride – being physically active releases our feel-good endorphins, which in turn can boost our mood, energising us to feel more alive and awake, but in contrast also helps us sleep much better. What’s not to like?

The NHS urges us to step right up! There is a miracle cure available we’ve all been waiting for. It can reduce your risk of major illnesses by up to 50% and lowers your risk of early death by up to 30%. It’s free, easy to take and has immediate effect. And the best part is, you don’t even need to see a GP to get it.
Oh, its name? EXERCISE!!

This is no snake oil, people – exercise is scientifically proven to help you live a longer, disease free, even happier life.  It is a cure-all that has always been around, it’s just many of us have neglected to take our recommended daily dose, and our health is suffering terribly as a consequence.

Dr Nick Cavill a health consultant stated, ‘If exercise were a pill, it would be one of the most cost-effective drugs ever invented.’ According to another medical expert: ‘Some exercise is better than none; more exercise is generally better than less, and no exercise can be disastrous.’

There hasn’t ever been a time when at-home fitness has been more accessible than it is now, this is knocking down barriers of expensive gym memberships and time constraints, with the likes of Joe Wicks pioneering simple fitness plans that can be done to suit your schedule. Commit to a fitness regime, whatever it is, and start getting those endorphins rushing, giving yourself the best chance of feeling, being and staying well.