Benefits of Regular Physical Activity and Exercise – Non Scale Victories

Ok so first let’s define the difference between Exercise and Physical activity.

Physical activity is a broad terms that involves any movement produced by contracting muscles that results in increased energy expenditure (burning calories)

Examples of physical activity :

  • Pressing against a wall (static, isometric) ; why would you randomly be pressing against a wall ? I don’t know…
  • Holding something
  • Standing (instead of sitting)
  • Walking to and from the bus station, biking to work, getting up from a chair
  • Household physical activity : gardening, home repairs, cleaning

Exercise is more specific and quantifiable ; it’s planned, structured, repetitive and done for the purpose to improve or maintiain a component of fitness. When you’re going to the gym, you’re planning on exercising.

So you see, exercise is a form of physical activity but physcical activity isnt always an exercise. Confused yet ? it’s okay.

All you have to know is this : There’s a relationship between Physical activity and chronic conditions (diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, obesity ect)

The more you move  the less chance you have of a heart attack or stroke. You don’t believe me, here are some studies to back me up :

Changes in Physical Fitness and All-Cause MortalityA Prospective Study of Healthy and Unhealthy Men

Steven N. Blair, PEDHarold W. Kohl III, PhDCarolyn E. Barlow, MSRalph S. Paffenbarger Jr, MD, DrPHLarry W. Gibbons, MD, MPHCaroline A. Macera, PhD

Physical Fitness as a Predictor of Cardiovascular Mortality in Asymptomatic North American men Lars-Göran Ekelund, M.D., Ph.D., William L. Haskell, Ph.D., Jeffrey L. Johnson, M.S., Fredrick S. Whaley, Ph.D., Michael H. Criqui, M.D., M.P.H., and David S. Sheps, M.D., M.S.P.H.The Lipid Research Clinics Mortality Follow-up Study

Relation of Leisure-Time Physical Activity and Cardiorespiratory Fitness to the Risk of Acute Myocardial Infarction in Men Timo A. Lakka, Juha M. Venalainen, Rainer Rauramaa, Riitta Salonen, Jaakko Tuomilehto, and Jukka T. Salonen

Ok so there’s evidence pointing to the beneficial and protective role of physical activity.

But just how much physical activity is enough ?

Well, based on the ACSM (American College of Sport Medicine), we recommends that every adult accumulate 30 minutes or more of moderate intensity five days each week – that’s 150 minutes or an hour and a half

How much is that in fitbit steps ?

Fitbit starts everyone off with a 10,000-step goal, and here’s why: It adds up to about five miles each day. This is about 30 minutes of daily exercise—satisfying the ACSM recommendation of at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week.

BUT 10,000 steps per day might not make sense for you. You may need to nab more if you want to lose a certain amount of weight, or take fewer steps if you’re new to fitness or recovering from an injury. Your step goal can vary depending on your needs, and it can also shift over time.

If you fitness goal is …

General fitness or weight loss : If you’re new to exercise or returning from injury, you’ll want to start slowly to avoid burnout or further injury. Wear a Fitbit tracker and determine how many steps you take on average each day over the course of a week. That’s your baseline. The Mayo Clinic recommends adding 1000 daily steps each week, so if your baseline is 4000 steps per day, set your goal at 5000 steps each day. Meeting your goal may be as simple as an extra five-minute walk, or even parking a few cars further away at the supermarket, depending on your speed and stride.

Health maintenance : Once you have met your desired goals, you may simply want to maintain your fitness level. The 10,000-step goal could be just right for you—and the benefits of a 30-minute daily stroll are nearly boundless, from slowing mental decline and lowering blood pressure, to improving sleep and relieving depression.

Why is all this pertinent ?

Well approximately 88% of our adult population is either overweight or obese – only 3.5% are meeting public health recommendation of physical activity

HOWEVER, regular physical activity carries health benefits regardless of any change in body composition :

Non scale Benefits :

1. Reduced risk of overall mortality

  • reduced risk of type 2 diabetes
  • reduced risk of hypertension
  • reduced risk of colon cancer
  • Prevention of and future cardiovascular diseases

2. Better cognitive function

Exercise’s benefits to the brain are well documented. Various studies have shown that cardiovascular exercise can help create new brain cells and improve overall brain performance.

3. Better Mood

There are nearly 50 antidepressant drugs on the market today, but one of the most powerful antidepressants doesn’t even require a prescription: exercise.

4. Better Sleep

Most studies link regular exercise to better sleep, even for those who suffer from serious insomnia (like me!) There’s only one catch: It takes a while to work. Research shows that  you’ll fall asleep faster, sleep longer, and get better quality sleep than those who are less active.

5. More confidence

We often assume that exercise will make us feel better about ourselves because it’ll make us look leaner,fitter, stronger, and healthier. But that’s only partly true. Physical activity has been shown to improve self-confidence no matter what you see in the mirror.

7. More creativity

Inspiration is often found in motion.

8. More control of addiction

Want to quit smoking? Or maybe you drink a bit more than you’d like ? Tend to binge eat to numb yourself out ? Exercise can help with that. Addiction is based on the release of dopamine — a feel-good hormone — in the brain. This is what people become addicted to, therefore becoming addicted to whatever produces it, whether cigarettes or drugs or even sex. Fortunately, exercise produces dopamine too, making it a healthy alternative to more damaging addictions.

9. Less Winkles

A recent study found that exercise can actually reverse the skin’s aging process.

10. More energy

It seems a bit counterintuitive, but expending more energy through exercise can help boost energy levels. Careful though, don’t overdo it.

11. Better memory

Remember how exercise can improve cognitive function? Exercise has been found to have a powerful impact on memory, particularly as we age. Regular exercise actually boosts the size of the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for verbal memory and learning.

12. Better immune system

When you exercise regularly, your heart gets stronger and is able to pump more blood throughout your body. Your lungs get better equipped at handling oxygen and dishing it out to the rest of your body. Your immune system is no different. Doctors have found that exercise can boost your immune system by providing a boost to the cells in your body that are assigned to attack bacteria. These cells appear to work more slowly in people who don’t exercise than in those that do.

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