Mind for Life

PHYSICAL HEALTH  
THE IMPORTANCE OF EXERCISE 
The many health benefits of regular exercise and maintaining good physical fitness

By Nilofar Dorani

Dietitian (APD), Nutritionist at Mind For Life
In order to sustain a balanced lifestyle and remain healthy, it is critically as important to maintain your daily physical activity.
So what is physical activity?

Physical activity is defined as any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that require energy expenditure or an activity requiring physical effort that is carried out to sustain or improve health and fitness. If food is the most important part of health, exercise definitely comes next. Research studies suggest that physical activity has an important role in weight management.

A sound body has a sound mind. What this means is that if a person is weak, dull, or sick, they will not be able to do their work efficiently or productively. It is very important to have a clear mind before undertaking any work, such as office work, study or some other creative work. The people who make exercise an essential part of their routine are predominantly more happier and more efficient than others. Exercise doesn’t just mean going to the gym or some health club for our daily activity; it really just means to do some form of physical activity no matter how or where.
From a nutritional point of view…
Apart from the genetic aspects of weight, a person’s weight is likely to be affected by the amount of energy consumed versus the amount of energy expended (Calories IN=Calories OUT). Any imbalances such as low energy expenditure and higher food consumption levels than the body needs results in poor health outcomes due to having to carry excess weight around. Therefore, exercise is paramount in the prevention of gaining excess weight and also helps reduce the risks of high blood pressure, Type2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Daily physical activity reduces one’s chances of stroke, helps maintain desired cholesterol levels and the risk of heart disease, lowering blood pressure and improving blood circulation.
From a mental health point of view…
It has also been proven to help in lifting mood and improving quality of sleep. According to a research study conducted by the international journal of physical education, sports and health, physical activity and exercise are associated with reduced stress and anxiety levels, boosting feel-good chemicals in the body, improves self-confidence, increases brain power, muscle and bone strength, sharpens memory, and immune response.
From an age point of view…
Another study has found a 50% increase in blood circulation and stimulated immune response in a group of young children who were effectively active for just six minutes each day. At the other end of the life cycle, regular exercise may also help prevent age-related immune decline. One study also found that while elderly, sedentary women have a 50 percent chance of getting an upper-respiratory illness during the winter season, this outcome was dropped to 20% in those who began a half-hour-a-day walking program.
People of all ages who are usually inactive can improve their health and well-being by becoming active at a level of moderate intensity daily. This is particularly evident in younger age groups such as adolescence when going through the transition period between childhood to adulthood, which is usually when lifetime habits such as regular exercise normally begin to be instilled. Therefore, don’t just exercise so you can wear your favourite outfit as it has a multitude of benefits including strengthening your muscles, keeps your bones strong, improves your skin, sleep, mood, immune function, increases relaxation, and much more.
Exercise and Weight

Obesity is a significant health problem globally for all ages, it is associated with excess calories stored in the form of fat in the body. Consequently, long-term excess calories or fat stores in the body leads to becoming overweight or obese. Research studies have found younger overweight and obese people at a higher risk of developing hypertension, osteoarthritis, abnormal cholesterol and triglyceride levels, type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, gall bladder disease, sleep apnea, respiratory problems and some cancers later in life. Exercise can help prevent excess weight gain, help with weight loss and maintain a healthy weight. If supplemented with proper balanced nutrition, exercise can result in burning excess calories and the prevention of obesity.

Ideally, weight loss can be achieved by effective regular exercise in accordance with the recommended(Australian Department of Health)30 minutes a day of moderate-intensity activity over 5 to 7 days per week. This is equivalent to an accumulated 150 minutes a week to help balance your energy output with energy intake to prevent poor health outcomes.Therefore, the more you exercise, the easier it is to keep your weight under control and improve your body image, self-esteem and most importantly, your quality of life by living healthier.
Final words on why exercise is so good for you
So to wrap up, no matter what your age or shape, you should make sure you exercise daily. Exercise is linked with so many physical and psychological benefits to help you function at an optimal level and also to feel good. Exercise provides an entertaining and enjoyable way to spend your time at any age, and really is the formula for living a happier and healthier life. Adopting good habits like staying physically active everyday along with eating balanced, healthy meals and snacks is the perfect recipe for combating obesity and preventing poor health outcomes, improving self-confidence, increasing longevity and so many more advantages to your overall health and well being.

So whatever form of exercise you choose to do, make sure it becomes a normal part of your healthy lifestyle and don’t forget to have fun along the way!

  1. <Benefits need and importance of daily exercise.pdf>.
  2. Australian Dietary Guidelines
    NHMRC; 2013 [cited 2020 27th of August]. Available from: https://www.nhmrc.gov.au/about-us/publications/
    australian-dietary-guidelines.
  3. Swift DL, Johannsen NM, Lavie CJ, Earnest CP, Church TS. The role of exercise and physical activity in weight loss and maintenance. Prog Cardiovasc Dis. 2014;56(4):441-7
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