Dr Tendai Zuze Health Matters
Do you want to live longer, feel better or have more energy? Regardless of your age, sex or physical ability, regular exercise and physical activity can help with all these.
It is well known that regular physical activity will help you control your weight, reduce your risk of heart disease, reduce your risk of diabetes, reduce your risk of some cancers, strengthen your bones and muscles and generally increase your chance of living longer. Before you start jumping around like a gazelle, however, you need to establish how much physical activity is appropriate for you. Generally, moderate intensity activity, like brisk walking, is safe for most people. In any case, if you weren’t active before, you need to start slow. Cardiac events, such as heart attacks, are rare during physical activity. But the risk does go up when you suddenly become much more active than usual. For example, you can put yourself at risk if you don’t usually get much physical activity and then all of a sudden do vigorous-intensity aerobic activity.
If you have a chronic medical condition, like heart disease, arthritis or diabetes, you need to talk to your doctor who will help you come up with a plan that matches your abilities. If your condition restricts you in some way, you will just need to do as much as you can. The important thing is to avoid being inactive and even sixty minutes a week of moderate activity is good for you. Essentially, the benefits of physical activity far outweigh the risks of getting hurt. Speaking of the benefits of physical activity, here are some of the more significant ones and how they come about.
Exercise controls weight
Exercise can help prevent excess weight gain or help maintain weight loss. When you engage in physical activity, you burn calories. The more intense the activity, the more calories you burn. You don’t need to set aside large chunks of time for exercise to reap weight-loss benefits. If you can’t do an actual workout, get more active throughout the day in simple ways — by taking the stairs instead of the elevator or walking short distances instead of driving.
Exercise combats health conditions and diseases
Worried about heart disease? Hoping to prevent high blood pressure? No matter what your current weight, being active boosts high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or “good” cholesterol and decreases unhealthy triglycerides. This one-two punch keeps your blood flowing smoothly, which decreases your risk of cardiovascular diseases. In fact, regular physical activity can help you prevent or manage a wide range of health problems and concerns, including stroke, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, depression, certain types of cancer, arthritis and falls.
Exercise improves mood
Need an emotional lift? Or need to blow off some steam after a stressful day? A workout at the gym or a brisk 30-minute walk can help. Physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals that may leave you feeling happier and more relaxed. You may also feel better about your appearance and yourself when you exercise regularly, which can boost your confidence and improve your self-esteem.
Exercise boosts energy
Winded by grocery shopping or household chores? Regular physical activity can improve your muscle strength and boost your endurance. Exercise and physical activity deliver oxygen and nutrients to your tissues and help your cardiovascular system work more efficiently. And when your heart and lungs work more efficiently, you have more energy to go about your daily chores
Exercise promotes better sleep
Struggling to fall or stay asleep? Regular physical activity can help you fall asleep faster and deepen your sleep. Just don’t exercise too close to bedtime, or you may be too energized to fall asleep.
Exercise puts the spark back into your sex life
Do you feel too tired or too out of shape to enjoy physical intimacy? Regular physical activity can leave you feeling energized and looking better, which may have a positive effect on your sex life. But there’s more to it than that. Regular physical activity can lead to enhanced arousal for women. And men who exercise regularly are less likely to have problems with erectile dysfunction than are men who don’t exercise.
Exercise can be fun
Exercise and physical activity can be a fun way to spend some time. It gives 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. So, take a dance class, hit the hiking trails or join a soccer team. Find a physical activity you enjoy, and just do it. If you get bored, try something new.
Exercise improves memory
In various studies, scientists have found that exercise increases levels of a protein known as brain derived neurotrophic factor (BNDF), which is known to promote the health of nerve cells.
In one experiment, Brazilian scientists found that after sedentary elderly rats ran for a mere five minutes or so several days a week for five weeks, a cascade of biochemical processes ignited in the memory centre of their brains, culminating in increased production of BDNF molecules there. The old, exercised rats then performed almost as well as much younger rats on rodent memory tests. So if exercise works for rats, imagine what it can do for you.
To sum it all up, exercise and physical activity are a great way to feel better, get health benefits and have fun. As a general goal, aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day. If you want to lose weight or meet specific fitness goals, you may need to exercise more. Exercise, it appears, is the miracle cure we have all been waiting for.