Why should I exercise?
If there was a pill that was able to lower your blood pressure, manage your diabetes, improve your bone health, reduce your risk of chronic disease as well as increase your strength and physical capacity it would be the most commonly prescribed pill in the world. Unfortunately this pill does not exist, but what does exist is the ability to exercise! Exercise positively impacts our global health i.e. physical, mental and cognitive as well as managing side effects and symptoms of disease. As well as this, exercise can deliver significant improvements in physical strength, balance and cardiorespiratory fitness. Now, why do these measures matter? Each day we test our ability to produce these three components on some scale, whether that be to walk, climb stairs and carry groceries or partake in physically demanding hobbies such as running or rock climbing. No matter what end of the scale we are pushing our bodies to complete, we rely on our physical health in order to maintain independence and live with a high quality of life. Irrespective of age or ability, exercise can positively influence the physical health of anyone, it is about finding the right type of exercise for you.
What are the physical benefits of exercise on the body?
There are many physical health benefits that can be achieved through exercise such as increasing aerobic capacity and muscular strength and endurance. As a result, we are better equipped to complete activities of daily living. In addition to this, exercise is able to reduce both primary and secondary risk of developing chronic disease and comorbidities such as (1):
- Cardiovascular disease - Type 2 diabetes - Metabolic syndrome - Hypertension - Obesity - Osteoporosis - Cancers - Hyperlipidemia - Mental health disorders - Stroke - Heart attack
How are these physical benefits achieved?
It sounds too good to be true, so how does it actually happen?
Many of these associated risk reductions stem from reductions in blood pressure, improved glycaemic control and increased cardiac output.
Exercise influences our glycaemic control through reductions in blood glucose levels following a bout of exercise via two main methods. One is that it increases our insulin sensitivity, meaning our body is more efficient at utilising insulin, and the other method is through greater glucose uptake via the skeletal muscles. Consequently, our blood glucose level declines following a bout of exercise and this effect is sustained for hours post. Additionally, many studies have illustrated a reduction in systolic blood pressure following exercise. A reduction of 2mmHg has been shown to reduce associated mortality of stroke and heart disease by 6% and 4%, respectively (2). As a result, a large reduction in cardiometabolic risk factors is one of the most significant mechanisms by which exercise can benefit our physical health.
So, what type of exercise should you be doing and how often?
Although it is important that exercise is individualised and specific, the Australian Physical Activity Guidelines specify the target physical activity level for adults to be either or a combination of 2.5-5hrs of moderate intensity activity each week. This could include, but is not limited to, a brisk walk, swimming, mowing the lawn or 1.25-2.5hrs of vigorous activity such as running, cycling or a sport. It is also recommended that resistance training be completed on two days of the week in order to maintain muscle and bone strength. Resistance can be applied through utilisation of both bodyweight and/or external weights (3).
What are Exercise Physiologists and how do they help?
Accredited Exercise Physiologists (AEP’s) are medically trained experts in curating and implementing the right program for you! AEP’s use their knowledge to prescribe the minimal effective dose of exercise to get the maximal benefit. AEP’s both help prevent the onset of chronic disease and injury and also help manage and improve the life of those living with a chronic disease, injury or disability.
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We have helped many people to enhance their physical health and lead them to living a stronger and healthier life. It all starts with a call to our friendly administration team who will kickstart the process alongside you.
Written by AEP Samantha Mungomery
Warburton DE, Nicol CW, Bredin SS. (2006). Health benefits of physical activity: the evidence. CMAJ. 174(6):801-9. doi: 10.1503/cmaj.051351. PMID: 16534088; PMCID: PMC1402378.
Carpio-Rivera, E., Moncada-Jiménez, J., Salazar-Rojas, W., & Solera-Herrera, A. (2016). Acute Effects of Exercise on Blood Pressure: A Meta-Analytic Investigation. Arquivos brasileiros de cardiologia, 106(5), 422–433. https://doi.org/10.5935/abc.20160064
Australian Government Department of Health. (2021). Being Active. Commonwealth of Australia. https://www.health.gov.au/health-topics/physical-activity-and-exercise/physical-activity-and-exercise-guidelines-for-all-australians/for-adults-18-to-64-years