6 REASONS TO MOVE MORE
Some of these might surprise you!
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…
1. BETTER BRAIN POWER
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.
2. BOOSTS IMMUNITY
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.
3. REDUCES DISEASE RISK
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.
4. INCREASES HAPPINESS
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.
5. HELPS EASE STRESS
“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.”
6. ENHANCES SLEEP