This is the link to the ‘Why exercise..?’ VLOG on my YouTube channel and the following is the script (kinda) that I used and the drawings etc. in the VLOG so you can look at them more closely should you wish to!
From the time I could walk I was encouraged to move about a lot. ‘Go play out…!’ And I wanted to. I wanted to race around playing ‘It’ or ‘Wembley’ with my neighbourhood pals. At the risk of sounding like a Monty Python sketch, growing up poor and without the internet (yes, it was still only in being toyed with by the US Ministry of Defence at this time!) there was bog all else to do so we had to make our own amusements. Plus we didn’t have a car so it was only the miracle of the power of our own two feet that got us anywhere. A habit I stick with to this day.
It was a time when the phrase ‘exercise is good for you’ was much used but also the only explanation given. But is it true? Why is it good for us?
A majority of people seem to get involved with exercise for the management of their weight but whilst most experts (and everyone else who writes about these things), agree it is ‘useful’ in the process of achieving an ideal, healthy weight, there are, perhaps surprisingly, many other health benefits that come from exercising which actually supercede the benefits for weight control. Sadly, loads of people give up on the exercise element of their lives after a few months because they don’t see the results they are hoping for – maybe they aren’t realistic but we’ll discuss that at a later date – but if they could only realise in the meantime that there are many, actually more important, reasons to take up some ‘moderate activity’- forget about weight loss and think about these:
First off it’s all round good for your heart. Much research has routinely shown that even moderate exercise helps condition the muscles of your heart and lowers the risk of heart disease by lowering your blood pressure (I.e. putting less strain on your heart). It also increases the levels of the so-called ‘good’ cholesterol and decreases the levels of the so-called ‘bad’ cholesterol which will all help in keeping your arteries clog free. Hoorah.
Incidentally ‘moderate activity’ is generally agreed by the NHS, American Heart Foundation etc. to be ‘activity that will noticeably increase your heart rate, make you breathe faster and feel warmer…but you should still be able to carry on a conversation.’
Hmmm…make of that what you will…
And you must do this for 150 minutes per week – broken down into five 30 minute stints they all helpfully add…! Recommended activities are brisk walking (or at least in higher intensity interval bursts) low impact total body stuff like swimming, water aerobics, rowing, riding a bike, or even walking with poles apparently (I know…) Also, dancing, pilates, yoga and so on. Any increase in physical activity will benefit your health but adding a few exercises that strengthen your muscles too will be even better. This means training with weights or with resistance bands – even carrying heavy shopping counts! However, housework and shopping for shoes isn’t included…darn it.
So, apart from healing your heart, studies show regular exercise significantly lowers the risk of major illnesses like stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer, right down to helping you stay cold free – reason enough right there, I’d say.
But it doesn’t end there…
Bone and skeletal issues like osteoporosis and arthritis are reduced.
Posture, joint health, flexibility, balance, coordination, stamina…all improved.
Your sex life, your eyesight, your confidence, your overall mood…all improved – those things might all be related actually – which also explains why it is often touted as anti-ageing!
Researchers have been saying that exercise feeds your brain for ages now and it’s even thought to lessen the impact of Alzheimer’s and dementia as it helps fight against brain shrinkage. Also, it increases your cognitive capability, enhances your creativity and improves your memory…it’s a no brainer, right?!
And if all that isn’t enough yet another huge reason to exercise is to de-stress. When you exercise your mood is enhanced as ‘feel good’ hormones and neurotransmitters are released. You’ll know these as endorphins, serotonin and dopamine. These create a natural high which helps with the reduction of stress and helps you relax – this with an overall feeling of achievement, body confidence and healthiness all works towards keeping you feeling happier and more relaxed and stress free – which in turn promotes good sleep – which is so vital!
Studies have shown it can assist in depression – even proving to be more useful in places than anti-depressants. Stress is reduced, frustration vented and time spent on yourself doing something for yourself, building your confidence back up, is all part of the prevention or ability to manage this terrible, debilitating disease.
And finally, yes of course, the right sort of exercise is part of the process to help find and maintain an ideal, healthy weight – mostly because the combination of cardio, resistance training and stretching keeps the muscles toned and calorie-burning efficient – plus you’ll generally have more energy!
But remember if you’re new to exercising, or worried about it in any way, it might be best to go see your doctor first – and always start out slowly and build up to the recommended levels. Make sure you warm up, cool down and stretch!
Before I go – a small spanner I think worth chucking into this mix is that more and more studies are being released showing that exercise alone will not control your weight. Now, I’m sure you, like me, think that’s fairly obvious as surely many other factors are involved in the process especially the food we eat – it is after all ‘Exercise AND Diet’ that are promoted for achieving an ideal, natural weight. Increasingly though experts are saying that exercise is only a small percent (as little as 20%) and it’s mostly diet that needs to be wrangled. I think it’s worth looking into, don’t you?
And I shall be doing just that in part 2…! See you then.