Why Exercise?

Exercise – The wonder drug

If physical activity were a drug, it would be classed as a wonder drug…

Professor Dame Sue Bailey, Chair of Academy of Medical Royal Colleges

As science and technology advances it has become increasingly clear that exercise is an extremely beneficial element of our lives and there is an ever growing body of scientific evidence which demonstrates the benefits of exercise.

It's medically proven that people who do regular physical activity have:

  • up to a 35% lower risk of coronary heart disease and stroke
  • up to a 50% lower risk of type 2 diabetes
  • up to a 50% lower risk of colon cancer
  • up to a 20% lower risk of breast cancer
  • a 30% lower risk of early death
  • up to an 83% lower risk of osteoarthritis
  • up to a 68% lower risk of hip fracture
  • a 30% lower risk of falls (among older adults)
  • up to a 30% lower risk of depression
  • up to a 30% lower risk of dementia

What is exercise?

Physical Activity has been defined as the “expenditure of calories and a raised heart rate”.

Examples of physical activity includes:

  • Active recreation (e.g. recreational walking and cycling)
  • Sport (e.g. Exercise and fitness training, structured competitive activities)
  • Everyday activities (e.g. gardening, DIY, heavy housework and Active travel)

How much should we exercise?

To stay healthy, adults should try to be active daily and aim to achieve at least 150 minutes of physical activity over a week through a variety of activities.

For most people, the easiest way to get moving is to make activity part of everyday life, like walking or cycling instead of using the car to get around. However, the more you do, the better, and taking part in activities such as sports and exercise will make you even healthier.

Click on the links below to find out if you're doing enough for your age:

Your weekly amount of exercise can be a combination of moderate intensity and vigorous intensity.

Moderate Intensity Activity

Defined as physical activity which will cause adults to get warmer and breather harder. Additionally causing their hearts to beat faster however they will still be able to carry on a conversation.

Examples are:

  • Brisk Walking
  • Cycling
  • Dancing
  • Swimming
  • Active Travel

Vigorous Physical Activity

Defined as physical activity which will cause adults to get warmer and breathe much harder alongside making their hearts to beat more rapidly. This effect will make it a lot more difficult to carry on a conversation.

Examples are:

  • Running
  • Sports such as football
  • Aerobic exercise classes
  • Cardiovascular gym equipment

Sedentary lifestyles and its dangers

Inactivity is described by the Department of Health as a “silent killer”. Evidence is emerging that sedentary behaviour, such as sitting or lying down for long periods, is bad for your health.

Not only should you try to raise your activity levels, but you should also reduce the amount of time you and your family spend sitting down.

Common examples of sedentary behaviour include watching TV, using a computer, using the car for short journeys and sitting down to read, talk or listen to music – and such behaviour is thought to increase your risk of many chronic diseases, such as heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes, as well as weight gain and obesity.

Crucially, you can hit your weekly activity target but still be at risk of ill health if you spend the rest of the time sitting or lying down so it is crucial to keep sedentary behaviour as low as possible.

We can all do more to be more active - click here for free tips on quick and easy ways to build exercise into your day.

Source: Benefits of exercise – NHS Choice