The best investment you can make for yourself: Exercise

We all know about the importance of a healthy lifestyle: having a good diet, avoiding tobacco use, have good sleep routines etc. But did you know that beingphysically active is the biggest investment you can make for yourself?
Exercise can help manage weight, strengthen bones and muscles, reduce the risk of diseases, and improve mental health. Regardless of age, ethnicity, occupation or gender, exercise is a universally beneficial activity.
Top 6 benefits:
  1. 1. Aid weight management
  2. 2. Reducing health risk
    ● Heart disease and stroke are Australia’s leading causes of death. Getting at least 30 minutes/day can lower blood pressure and improve cholesterol levels.
    ● Diabetes: Reduce blood glucose levels and lower blood pressure
  3. 3. Strengthen bones and muscles: muscle-strengthening activities like lifting weights can help you increase and maintain muscle mass.
  4. 4. Improve memory and brain function
  5. 5. Reduce feelings of anxiety and depression
  6. 6. Improves digestion
We all know the benefits of exercise on weight loss. But it is less known how exercise improves other aspects. We’re here to explain this.
What’s the science behind exercise and heart disease?
For heart disease specifically, the heart is a muscle and like all muscles it needs regular stimulation to stay strong and healthy. Without exercise, fats and other nasty materials build up in the blood vessels, clogging them and preventing good blood flow. If you want to know more about heart diseases, check out our previous article here
Additionally, scientists have said that exercise increases the number of good healthy fats in the body and decreases the levels of bad unhealthy fats (such as LDL Low Density Lipoprotein) in the body. These changes reduce the risk of heart disease.
How does exercise help strengthen bones and muscles?
A good analogy is thinking of your body as a car. With any car, you need constant maintenance to keep it running well. If you let a car sit in the garage for a long time without taking it out for a spin, it will collect dust and degrade. Similarly, our bones and muscles need constant maintenance to keep them strong.
How does exercise improve mental health?
Exercise causes your body to release “good” chemicals and hormones like serotonin and endorphins. These improve your mood! So, the more you exercise, the more of these “good hormones” are released. Less scientifically though, exercise can also be a healthy form of distraction from overcrowding thoughts and overthinking.
How does exercise improve memory and brain function?
A study by Harvard University showed that parts of the brain that are in charge of memory are larger in people who exercise compared to people who don’t. They also revealed that “engaging in exercise over six months~1 year increases the brain volume”. In the long term, being physically active helps prevent dementia and reduces the risk of cognitive decline.
How does exercise improve digestion?
People are encouraged to take walks after meals. Exercise increases blood flow to the gut which improves churning and movement of the food down our digestive tract. Exercise also increases the number of good, helpful bacteria in your gut - making your gut healthier from the inside.
Overdoing exercise
With anything in life, too much of a good thing can become a bad thing. Exercise is no different.
Signs of over-exercising:
  • Exhaustion
  • Prolonged sore muscles
  • Changes in appetite
  • Increased injuries
  • Low energy from overeating can lead to irritation, anger and sleep problems
Ways you can prevent overexercising:
  • Give your body enough time to rest and heal
  • Eat to gain nutrition for the exercise you’re doing
  • Get enough sleep
  • Cut back on workouts when you’re sick or faced with too many other stressors
Written by Christina Min