The importance of exercise cannot be overstated. With science consistently revealing its benefits for our mind and body, there are no longer any reasonable excuses to not be doing it! This article will outline how different types of exercise can benefit you, and how you can get started today.
Body and mind: How exercise leads to an all-round healthier life
Exercise has continually been shown to help us prevent diabetes and obesity (1,2), whilst reducing the incidents of certain types of cancers (3). Moreover, exercise helps us build stronger immune systems (4).
But it's exercise and the benefits for the mind that is becoming increasingly promoted. With a reduction in the prevalence of mental health stigma, we're learning more and more about how exercise helps us suffer from less depression (5), anxiety (6), fatigue (7,8), and cognitive impairments (9,10).
Moreover, exercise has been shown to help us cope with stressful experiences (11,12,13), whilst exercise also appears to bolster one's status of depression (14,15), a potential life-changing piece of information for suffers.
The literature surrounding exercise and mental health continually paint a positive picture: physical activity is associated with less subjective stress in multiple populations, through to athletes and even veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (16-27). Moreover, the research tells us that those who exercise experience fewer daily hassles (28).
In short, the old cliché is true: exercise really does allow for a healthier, stronger body and mind.
What style of exercise should I do? Weight training vs cardiovascular training
The best type of exercise is the one you prefer doing!
Whether that's playing a team sport, going for a long run or cycle, lifting weights in the gym, or variations such as cross-fit -- the important factor is that you do it. This will ultimately lead to a better quality of life as we age.
Eventually though, some resistance training should be implemented as it prevents sarcopenia.
Is resistance training (weight lifting) the best way to stop sarcopenia?
Later in life, we are at risk of developing sarcopenia; a loss of muscle tissue and function. Physical activity, notably resistance training, is therefore a recommended factor in preventing it (29).
Whilst progressive resistance training is the best for enhancing muscle size and strength in the elderly to best fight sarcopenia (30), there are still benefits from aerobic exercise such as cycling (31), even dancing (32). But aerobic training is only "a partial" solution to sarcopenia long-term, and it's therefore recommended you perform some resistance training as part of your weekly exercise regime (33).
If you obtain from resistance training, at some point sarcopenia may be a concern. Then, resistance training would be a way to manage it. However, if we start resistance training earlier in our lives, we're protecting ourselves against muscle wastage and getting a head start.
A balance between aerobic exercise and resistance training is recommended, a balance you will learn to strike depending on your lifestyle and medical advice.
Moreover, not to be discounted is resistance training's effect on bone density; giving us stronger bones and also adding to our quality of life (34).
Benefits of Aerobic exercise for the heart
Aerobic exercise is very beneficial to heart health; performing it regularly is "robustly associated" with a decline in cardiovascular mortality along with the risk of developing cardiovascular disease (35). Those who perform it have lower blood pressure, higher insulin sensitivity, stronger cardiac output, a lower resting heart rate, and lesser cardiac hypertrophy (35).
But like most things, too much can be detrimental.
Research suggests that continuously high levels of exercise (e.g., marathon running) could have detrimental effects on cardiovascular health. But just how much is difficult to answer. Scientists note: "...a specific dose response relationship between the extent and duration of exercise and the reduction in cardiovascular disease risk and mortality remains unclear" (35).
So feel free to go about your marathons, just don't overdo it.
Exercise and body image
There's no question that exercise and our bodies changing before our eyes makes us feel better. Most of us who exercise regularly know this feeling.
Resistance training targets our muscles and thus changes the shape of our bodies, resulting in an improvement in self-esteem (36). Moreover, resistance training improves self-efficacy, which directly impacts the way we think about our body image and ourselves (37). We take the positives of this into our everyday lives; experiencing success in these tasks boosts confidence.
Furthermore, anecdotally at least, the discipline required for consistent exercise can spread to other places in your life: your career, everyday tasks, and the maintenance of relationships.
How to get started with exercise today
Begin by signing up to your local gym, or enquiring about personal training to ensure you're getting the most results for your time.
Or, take a look at our new completely tailored nutrition and training plan program, WM360 - https://workoutmeals.com.au/pages/wm-360
In this world-first fitness and weight loss offering, you simply tell us what your goal is, and which of our meals you'd like to eat, and we'll provide you with your own personal trainer, nutritionist, and see that your meals are delivered to your door. All you have to do is then follow the exercise and diet plan given to you!
The bottom-line is that exercise should be something you undertake weekly, due to its benefits pertaining to your physical and mental health, life expectancy, and quality of life. With science consistently finding more positives, particularly relation to the mind -- the sooner you get started if you haven't already, the better!
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