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Benefits of Exercise

10 June 2022

We need exercise to achieve a healthy lifestyle for many reasons. We are always reminded of how important exercise is for reducing obesity, however, the benefits of exercise are much greater than just lowering the rate of obesity.

People exercising

Research shows exercise helps to battle symptoms of depression and anxiety. It has also been seen to improve symptoms in disorders such as, season affective disorder. ‘Green’ exercise, which is exercise performed outside is commonly talked about in psychological research as it has been shown to improve mood.

There is a lot of research which shows exercise can improve sleep. A good sleeping pattern is an incredibly important part of a healthy lifestyle. Lack of sleep often leads to poor lifestyle habits such as a bad diet which has been linked to an increased likelihood of developing some diseases.

People who exercise have a lowered risk of developing stress, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, as well some chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers.

Currently, adults are told to exercise for 150 minutes of physical activity a week or 75 minutes of vigorous activity. The 150 minutes of exercise can be performed in a range of different activities and does not exclusively have to be going to gym classes or just walking.

The NHS defines these two different forms of physical activity below:

For an activity to be of benefit, it needs to raise your heart rate. This level of effort is called moderate intensity activity. Not every person has the same fitness level, therefore what is moderate to some may differ to others. If you’re working at a moderate intensity, you should still be able to hold a conversation but you wouldn’t be able to sing the words to a song. An example of moderate activity could be a long walk, or gardening.

Any activity which makes you work harder than this is called vigorous intensity activity. There is a lot of evidence which shows vigorous activity can have more health benefits than that of moderate activity. Vigorous activity causes your breathing to become hard and fast and increases your heart rate greatly. Generally, you will know you’re performing vigorous activity as you will not be able to say more than a few words without pausing to breathe. An example of vigorous activity could be an exercise class as a gym such as spinning.

These guidelines can be difficult for everyone to achieve and starting exercise can be daunting! The HowFit program provides good exercises which are easy to follow to help you get started. Doing something is better than nothing!

Inactivity, the term for no activity or little activity, has been called the ‘silent killer’ by health officials, and a rise in inactive lifestyles post-covid has seen a shocking increase in many lifestyle diseases. This is a huge threat to not only individuals but also an already stressed NHS.

There are many resources available if you are not sure how to start increasing your physical activity levels. HowFit is a great way to get started! See the links below for more information on other NHS guidelines and exercises.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/physical-activity-guidelines-infographics

https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/exercise-health-benefits/

https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/running-and-aerobic-exercises/get-running-with-couch-to-5k/

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