The benefits of being active

Who doesn’t want to be stronger, have more energy, be more flexible, and in general, just be awesome! Yet, when it comes down to it, exercise can be hard, tiring, something we need to pep talk ourselves into doing. It’s not that we don’t know that exercise is good for us, but our lives often have a million things going on and sometimes we are just plain lazy.

A little refresher on why being active is good won’t hurt so I have decided to write about this topic today in hopes that all the awesome that comes with being fitter encourages us all to get up and moving a little more often. I am going to list a few here:

  • Good health/ disease prevention
  • Higher energy levels
  • Better quality sleep
  • Stronger body
  • Flexibility
  • Better mental function
  • Stress relief
  • Better body composition (imagine me wiggling my eyebrows up and down here)
  • Helps you age better

Those are just a few. If you are into playing sports, training to up your game and get fit or maintain your already good fitness levels has even more benefits in addition to those mentioned above:

  • Improved agility
  • Improved balance
  • Improved coordination
  • Improved speed
  • More power
  • Quicker reaction times

The benefits are clearly many. Let’s take a deeper (not too deep :p) look into the first list of benefits. Getting active strengthens the body, and not just your muscles that you can see on the outside. As we get fitter, the increase in our energy levels is due to the fact that we are strengthening our heart and lungs. They become more efficient at circulating our blood, which carries oxygen, around our body and fueling our cells (the building blocks of our bodies) with nutrients, and in turn more efficient at getting rid of waste products too (that would be carbon dioxide and lactic acid, lactic acid is a by-product of our muscles working, why you are sometimes sore). Your heart and lungs don’t have to work as hard anymore leaving you feeling more energised.

When we exercise our brains release happy hormones (dopamine), causing us to de-stress and feel better, next time you are angry, sad, stressed or feeling meh, try it. Because of the increased circulation and utilisation of oxygen and other nutrients, the brain gets a boost too. According to Livestrong, it helps improve memory function, your ability to learn and abstract reasoning, and even helps grow more brain cells. Yay for more brain power! With the better sleeping thing, it apparently will take a while, studies showed around 4 months for actual insomniacs, but as anyone who has struggled to fall asleep or stay asleep for a few nights in a row or even weeks can tell you, not sleeping sucks! Wouldn’t 30 mins a day of exercise for a while be worth it for better sleep? If you suffer from sleep apnoea (you randomly stop breathing in your sleep), getting to a healthy weight can help with this. Chat to your doctor.

As our bodies get stronger and more flexible (yes, stretching is necessary and good), we are able to stave off injuries like pulling muscles (listen to your body as overuse or stretching past what your body is able, same for lifting weights; or using incorrect form when exercising, can cause injuries just as easily walking upstairs, or other random things). Our muscles being more flexible means we have better range of motion, which is great when needing to tie your shoe laces, and we can move quicker and do GI Joe things e.g, ducking when a ball is heading for your face… or catching it, with less risk of injury.

Stronger muscles also mean that they take longer to deteriorate, yes, sadly, our bodies do deteriorate when we get older. Getting old is not for sissies. But being in better health helps us age better, maintaining better heart and lung function, muscle mass, and bone health. Take note ladies, we are at a higher risk of osteoporosis (meaning our bones get brittle). You can help prevent this through weight bearing exercises, like running, brisk walks, aerobics, etc, as our bones absorb the force. Your bones automatically strengthen themselves if there is enough force regularly going through them! Just like when healing a broken bone, but on a smaller scale.

Being active makes it easier to reach and maintain a healthy weight, and who doesn’t want a little less jiggle! We all know that being overweight predisposes us to a host of health problems like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and the ugly c word. The best part is that we can do something to help prevent these diseases and in the event that we became ill, we can control these diseases much better. Chat to your doctor about what is healthy eating wise and recommended exercise wise. Inactivity is the 4th leading cause of death, because we can so easily gain weight, and because our bodies don’t function as best they can all of which can lead to illnesses that cause death. Even doing something as simple as going for a brisk walk, or vacuuming your house counts. Anything that gets your heart rate up.

Let’s all take an interest in our bodies, and what we can do to treat ourselves better. A little goes a long way. WHO recommends 150 mins of low to moderate intensity exercise a week (half an hour 5 days a week, or 50 mins 3 times a week, etc), or 75 mins high intensity exercise a week (15 mins 5 days a week or 25 mins 3 times a week), or a combination of the two. You can even do it in 10 min stints. Whatever works for you. The change needs to be sustainable after all. Woohoo for health! Woohoo for physical activity!


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