Some of th­ese might sur­prise you!

Weight Watchers Magazine (Australia) - - Contents -

Mak­ing time for phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity can be chal­leng­ing when life is busy enough. But in ad­di­tion to build­ing lean mus­cle and boost­ing car­dio­vas­cu­lar fit­ness, it’s im­por­tant to pri­ori­tise phys­i­cal move­ment as it also of­fers a host of ben­e­fits for both the body and mind. Dis­cov­er­ing th­ese ad­di­tional perks may give you the boost you need to in­cor­po­rate more move­ment into your day. Th­ese are the se­cret ben­e­fits of phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity…


Health ex­pert Dr Joanna Mcmil­lan says scans of the brain be­fore and af­ter ex­er­cise show your grey mat­ter lit­er­ally lights up when you get mov­ing. “When you ex­er­cise, there is in­creased blood and oxy­gen flow all around the body, but you also stim­u­late the brain, so the minute you ex­er­cise you’re more awake, more alert and more able,” she says. She rec­om­mends a quick burst of ac­tiv­ity be­fore an oc­ca­sion when you need to be at your sharpest men­tally.

More im­por­tantly, ex­er­cise ben­e­fits our long-term brain health. “Ex­er­cise fires up the con­nec­tions be­tween brain cells, so the more we ex­er­cise, the more those brain cells con­nect and we know that’s im­por­tant for long-term brain health, re­duc­ing cog­ni­tive de­cline and de­men­tia,” Dr Mcmil­lan says.


Tired of suf­fer­ing through win­ters full of coughs and colds? A study of 1000 peo­ple pub­lished in the Bri­tish Journal of Sports Medicine found those who were phys­i­cally ac­tive cut their risk of a cold by half. They also suf­fered less se­vere symp­toms.

The study’s lead au­thor, Dr David Nie­man, a pi­o­neer in ex­er­cise im­munol­ogy re­search, says, “Reg­u­lar aer­o­bic ex­er­cise, five or more days per week for more than 20 min­utes a day, rises above all other life­style fac­tors in low­er­ing sick days dur­ing the win­ter and au­tumn cold sea­sons.” Ac­cord­ing to Dr Nie­man, a sim­ple brisk walk is enough to re­ceive the ben­e­fits.


Phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity may also re­duce the risk of heart dis­ease, di­a­betes and some can­cers. Ac­cord­ing to the Australian De­part­ment of Health, phys­i­cal in­ac­tiv­ity is es­ti­mated to be the main cause for about 21 to 25 per cent of breast and colon can­cers, 27 per cent of di­a­betes cases and about 30 per cent of heart dis­ease cases.


In the same way as phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity can pre­vent or man­age de­pres­sion,

it has also been found to en­hance pos­i­tive well­be­ing.

“We did a study with more than 20,000 young and mid­dle-aged Australian women and those who did any amount of phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity had 1.5 to 2 times higher lev­els of op­ti­mism over a nine-year pe­riod than peo­ple who did noth­ing, re­gard­less of ex­ter­nal fac­tors,” says Dr Ni­cola Bur­ton, from the Univer­sity of Queens­land’s School of Hu­man Move­ment and Nu­tri­tion Sciences. Dr Bur­ton’s study showed it didn’t mat­ter how much ac­tiv­ity you did; any kind of move­ment was bet­ter than none.


“When we’re tense we have cor­ti­sol and adren­a­line go­ing through our sys­tem, and ex­er­cise can change our chem­i­cal re­sponse,” Dr Bur­ton says. It does this by help­ing our bod­ies re­spond bet­ter to cor­ti­sol, while also re­leas­ing feel-good en­dor­phins.

“Phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity also gives peo­ple a dis­trac­tion or time away from a par­tic­u­lar stres­sor. It can make you feel bet­ter about your­self and more con­fi­dent, which will also en­hance well­be­ing.

“When we’re stressed we of­ten feel things are out of con­trol, whereas ex­er­cis­ing can give you a sense of con­trol, con­trib­ute to more pos­i­tive thoughts and pro­mote re­silience.”


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