The health benefits of exercise
Live longer, reduce your risk of disease – what’s not to love about regular cardiovascular exercise? Learn about the 6 reasons on why is exercise good for you below.
Why is exercise good for you?
1) Reduced risk of high blood pressure
High blood pressure is known as the ‘silent killer’, as there are no symptoms, and it can increase your risk of heart attack and heart failure. It can also damage blood vessels, as well as causing kidney disease and stroke. Monitor blood pressure regularly and get it checked if you’re concerned. A normal blood pressure range is 120/80 to 140/90. Regular exercise combined with a healthy diet can help to reduce your risk of high blood pressure.
2) Reduced cancer risk
Exercise can reduce your risk of certain diseases. It’s been proven that regular cardiovascular exercise, such as running or cycling, can decrease the risk of certain cancers. Cancer Research UK says bowel cancer risk can be reduced, as exercise increases the rate at which food moves through our bowels, which reduces the amount of time the lining of the bowel is in contact with harmful chemicals.
Insulin levels in the blood are also reduced. Scientists think insulin can turn on signals that tell cells to multiply. Cancer starts when cells multiply out of control, so reducing insulin levels could stop some types of cancer from developing.
3) Reduced obesity risk
Exercise can help to manage your weight and therefore reduce your risk of obesity. Being active increases your total energy expenditure, which can help you stay in energy balance or lose weight if you consume less than you’ve expended. Regular exercise will also decrease fat around your waist, as well as your total body fat, which will slow the development of abdominal obesity.
Those with larger waists have a higher risk of premature cardiovascular disease than those who carry more fat around hips and thighs. Abdominal obesity is linked with Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, as well as death.
In one study, women with a waist measurement higher than 35 inches had nearly double the risk of dying from heart disease, compared with women who had waist measurements of less than 28 inches.
We can’t alter genetics and some of us may naturally have larger waists than others, but regular exercise and a healthy diet will get your waistline under control.
4) Reduced risk of developing dementia
Regular physical exercise will reduce your dementia risk and can make you mentally sharper. According to Alzheimer’s Society, several studies into the effect of aerobic exercise in middle aged or older people have shown improvements in thinking and memory.
Combined results of 11 studies have shown regular exercise can significantly reduce the risk of dementia development by about 30 percent and risk reduction of Alzheimer’s disease by 45 percent (Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia).
5) Exercise increases ‘Good’ Cholesterol
There are 2 types of cholesterol – The high density lipo protein (HDL) and low density lipo protein (LDL). Eventually it can enter blood vessel walls and start to build up, creating fatty deposits in artery walls. In time, these narrow your blood vessels. However, excess cholesterol in your blood can be picked up by HDL and take it back to the liver, where it’s broken down. The higher your level of HDL (or ‘good’) cholesterol, the less LDL (‘bad’) cholesterol you’ll have in your blood.
6) Be mentally sharper
Aerobic exercise can also benefit your performance in thinking tests. Pulling together the results of 29 clinical trials, Alzheimer’s Society found that a month or more of regular aerobic exercise resulted in enhancements on memory, attention and processing speed compared with regular non-aerobic exercise, such as stretching and toning. If you already exercise, you’ve probably discovered that taking a break from your work to go for a run or do a workout at the gym has helped you to clear your head and solve problems, making you more resilient and productive.
So, if you want to feel more alert and become better at solving work dilemmas and other problems, make time to lace up your trainers and go for a run or jump on the Spin bike!