We all know that exercise is good for us, but are we aware of just how good it is? The benefits range from boosting our mood to improving our sex life. Just a minimum of 30 minutes a day can allow you to enjoy these benefits.
Physical activity or exercise can improve our health and reduce the risk of developing several diseases like type 2 diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease. Physical activity and exercise can have immediate and long-term health benefits. Most importantly, regular activity can improve our quality of life.
Benefits of physical activity
If you are regularly physically active, you may:
- reduce your risk of a heart attack
- manage your weight better
- have a lower blood cholesterol level
- lower the risk of type 2 diabetes and some cancers
- have lower blood pressure
- have stronger bones, muscles and joints and lower risk of developing osteoporosis
- lower your risk of falls
- recover better from periods of hospitalisation or bed rest
- feel better – with more energy, a better mood, feel more relaxed and sleep better.
Physical activity can help control weight
Exercise can help prevent weight gain or help maintain weight loss. Physical activity burns calories. The more exercise you do the more calories you burn.
Regular exercise is best, even a minimum of 15-20 minutes a day if that is all you can manage. Get more active during the day, look at ways you can increase you physical active. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, park the car a couple of blocks away from your office. Do you need to drive to work? Start a walking group at work in the lunch hour.
Physical activity can improve your mood
A number of studies have found that exercise improves your mental health. Physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals that may leave you feeling happier, more relaxed and less anxious. You may also feel better about your appearance and yourself when you exercise regularly. This boosts your self esteem and self confidence.
Increased fitness may help to lift your mood and improve your sleep patterns. It is a great way to destress after a stressful day.
Exercise is a great way to increase social activity, you can meet people at the gym or organise walking groups.
Physical activity will increase your energy
Regular physical activity can improve your muscle strength and boost your endurance.
Exercise delivers oxygen and nutrients to your tissues and helps your cardiovascular system work more efficiently. And when your heart and lung health improve, you have more energy to tackle daily chores and the stressors in your life.
Physical activity promotes better sleep
Regular physical activity can help you fall asleep faster, get better sleep and deepen your sleep. Just don’t exercise too close to bedtime, or you may be too energised to go to sleep.
Regular physical activity can promote your sex life
The benefits of exercise can have a positive effect on your sex life. This is largely because of your improved energy levels, enhanced self esteem and confidence about your physical appearance.
Research indicates that men who exercise regularly have fewer erectile dysfunction problems than those who don’t. It is also indicated that exercise enhances arousal in women.
Exercise can be fun and social
Exercise and physical activity can be enjoyable. They give you a chance to unwind, enjoy the outdoors or simply engage in activities that make you happy. Physical activity can also help you connect with family or friends in a fun social setting.
Find a physical activity you enjoy, and just do it. Exercise is not restricted to the gym, take a dance class, join a walking group, cycling group or exercise with your family or friends.
Benefits of Physical activity post COVID-19
Physical activity has never been more valued as a health benefit since the start of the COVID-19 restrictions and subsequent finalisation of the restrictions.
The continual need for isolation and other measures taken to contain the virus caused major health and social issues for people. There are several long term effects from this including loneliness, weight gain, overeating increased dependancy on alcohol and drugs, which has led to increased physical health, mental health and social issues.
Physical activity is being promoted as a key factor in assisting people to “get their lives back on track”, and with awareness of the positive effects of physical activity and promotion of these benefits the overall benefits will be evident.
Whatever physical activity you decide make sure it is safe.
- don’t go walking by yourself at night or early in the morning wen it is dark
- follow the road rules if you are cycling
- always make sure someone knows if you are going out for a walk or run
- wear safety gear so you are seen
- make sure you are well hydrated if you are out in the sun
- don’t engage in physical activity if you are unwell
This article is extracted from the Australian Government Department of Health. There are guidelines for different ages https://www.health.gov.au/health-topics/physical-activity-and-exercise/physical-activity-and-exercise-guidelines-for-all-australians/for-adults-18-to-64-years and populations https://www.health.gov.au/health-topics/physical-activity-and-exercise/physical-activity-and-exercise-guidelines-for-all-australians/for-people-with-disability-or-chronic-conditions.
About the guidelines
“Staying active regularly is essential for good physical and mental health and wellbeing. This is true no matter how young or old you are. But the amount of activity varies, depending on your age.
To help Australians understand how much activity they need, we have developed physical activity and sedentary behaviour guidelines for each age group and for pregnancy.
These guidelines outline:
- how much physical activity you should do each day
- ideas to fit more physical activity into your daily lives
- the importance of reducing and breaking up the time you spend sitting or lying down when not sleeping
- how much sedentary screen time is recommended
- how much sleep children and young people should get
- how children and young people can get good quality sleep.” (Australian Government Department of Health)
See your Doctor first
It is a good idea to see your doctor before starting your physical activity program if:
- you are aged over 45 years
- physical activity causes pain in your chest
- you often faint or have spells of severe dizziness
- moderate physical activity makes you very breathless
- you are at a higher risk of heart disease
- you think you might have heart disease or you have heart problems
- you are pregnant
- you have not exercised and are starting an exercise program
- you wish to include weightloss into you exercise program
- you are feeling depressed and/or anxious, this would be to monitor your mental health
Pre exercise screening
Pre-exercise screening is used to identify people with medical conditions that may put them at a higher risk of experiencing a health problem during physical activity. It is a filter or ‘safety net’ to help decide if the potential benefits of exercise outweigh the risks for you.
Print a copy of the adult pre-exercise screening tool (PDF) and discuss it with your doctor, allied health, exercise professional or life coach.
Where to start
- Your Family Doctor for an assessment, especially if you meet any of the criteria listed above
- Exercise physiologist
- Personal Trainer
- Life Coach
Activating Every body. Every way. Every day. AUSactive is a not-for-profit industry association that exists to professionalise the exercise and active health industry through engaging in partnerships, advocacy, delivering education, quality and accreditation. AUSactive supports the industry to deliver an environment for more Australians to adopt a healthy, active lifestyle.
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- Australia’s physical activity and sedentary behaviour guidelines, Department of Health and Ageing, Australian Government.