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 

lady stretching with her hands up at the beach

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 increasinglypromoted. 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? 

guy preparing to do a barbell deadlift

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 

guy and girl running on the treadmill

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! 

References 

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2. Stampfer MJ, Hu FB, Manson JE, et al. Primary prevention of coronary heart disease in women through diet and lifestyle. N Engl J Med. 2000;343(1):1622.

3. Friedenreich CM. Physical activity and cancer prevention: from observational to intervention research. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2001;10(4):287301.

4. Walsh NP, Gleeson M, Shephard RJ, et al. Position statement part one: immune function and exercise.ExercImmunol Rev. 2011;17:663. 

5. RethorstCD, Wipfli BM, Landers DM. The antidepressive effects of exercise: a meta-analysis of randomized trials. Sports Med. 2009;39(6):491511. 

6. Wipfli BM,RethorstCD, Landers DM. The anxiolytic effects of exercise: a meta-analysis of randomized trials and dose-response analysis. J Sport Exerc Psychol. 2008;30(4):392410. 

7. Resnick HE, Carter EA, Aloia M, et al. Cross-sectional relationship of reported fatigue to obesity, diet, and physical activity: results from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. J Clin Sleep Med. 2006;2(2):1639.

8. Theorell-HaglowJ, Lindberg E, Janson C. What are the important risk factors for daytime sleepiness and fatigue in women? Sleep. 2006;29(6):7517.

9. Lautenschlager NT, Cox KL, Flicker L, et al. Effect of physical activity on cognitive function in older adults at risk for Alzheimer diseasea randomized trial. JAMA. 2008;300(9):102737.

10. Rovio S,KareholtI, Helkala EL, et al. Leisure-time physical activity at midlife and the risk of dementia and Alzheimers disease. Lancet Neurol. 2005;4(11):70511. 

11. Salmon P. Effects of physical exercise on anxiety, depression, and sensitivity to stress: a unifying theory. Clin Psychol Rev. 2001;21(1):3361.

12. Dunn AL,TrivediMH, ONeal HA. Physical activity dose-response effects on outcomes of depression and anxiety. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2001;33(6):S58797. 

13. Long BC. Aerobic conditioning and stress reduction: participation or conditioning? Hum Mov Sci. 1983;2(3):17186.

14. Babyak M, Blumenthal JA, Herman S, et al. Exercise treatment for major depression: maintenance of therapeutic benefit at 10 months.PsychosomMed. 2000;62(5):6338. 

15. Craft LL, Landers DM. The effect of exercise on clinical depression and depression resulting from mental illness: a meta-analysis. J SportExercPsychol. 1998;20(4):33957. 

16. Buckley TC, Mozley SL, Bedard MA, et al. Preventive health behaviors, health-risk behaviors, physical morbidity, and health-related role functioning impairment in veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder. Mil Med. 2004;169(7):53640.

17. Ginis KAM, Latimer AE, McKechnie K, et al. Using exercise to enhance subjective well-being among people with spinal cord injury: the mediating influences of stress and pain.RehabilPsychol. 2003;48(3):15764. 

18. Jonsson D, Johansson S, Rosengren A, et al. Self-perceived psychological stress in relation to psychosocial factors and work in a random population sample of women. Stress Health. 2003;19(3):14962.

19. King AC, Taylor CB, Haskell WL. Effects of differing intensities and formats of 12 months of exercise training on psychological outcomes in older adults. Health Psychol. 1993;12(4):292300.

20. Knab AM, Nieman DC, Sha W, et al. Exercise frequency is related to psychopathology but not neurocognitive function. Med Sci SportsExerc. 2012;44(7):1395400.

21. Lambiase MJ, Barry HM, Roemmich JN. Effect of a simulated active commute to school on cardiovascular stress reactivity. Med Sci SportsExerc. 2010;42(8):160916.

22. McHugh JE, Lawlor BA. Exercise and social support are associated with psychological distress outcomes in a population of community-dwelling older adults. J Health Psychol. 2012;17(6):83344.

23. Sanchez-Villegas A, Ara I, Guillen-Grima F, et al. Physical activity, sedentary index, and mental disorders in the SUN Cohort Study. Med Sci SportsExerc. 2008;40(5):82734.

24. Schnohr P, Kristensen TS, Prescott E, et al. Stress and life dissatisfaction are inversely associated with jogging and other types of physical activity in leisure timethe Copenhagen City Heart Study. Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2005;15(2):10712.

25. SkirkaN. The relationship of hardiness, sense of coherence, sports participation, and gender to perceived stress and psychological symptoms among college students. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2000;40:6370. 

26. de Assis MA, de Mello MF, Scorza FA, et al. Evaluation of physical activity habits in patients with posttraumatic stress disorder. Clinics. 2008;63(4):4738.

27. Taylor-PiliaeRE, Fair JM, Haskell WL, et al. Validation of the Stanford Brief Activity Survey: examining psychological factors and physical activity levels in older adults. J Phys Act Health. 2010;7(1):8794.

28. Nguyen-Michel ST, Unger JB, Hamilton J, et al. Associations between physical activity and perceived stress/hassles in college students. Stress Health. 2006;22(3):17988.

29. Santilli V, Bernetti A, Mangone M, Paoloni M.Clinicaldefinition of sarcopenia. Clin Cases Miner Bone Metab. 2014;11(3):177-180. 

30. Effects of resistance- and flexibility-exercise interventions on balance and related measures in older adults. Bird ML, Hill K, Ball M, Williams AD. J Aging Phys Act. 2009 Oct; 17(4):444-54.

31.The effects of aging, physical training, and a single bout of exercise on mitochondrial protein expression in human skeletal muscle. Bori Z, Zhao Z, Koltai E, Fatouros IG, Jamurtas AZ, Douroudos II, Terzis G, Chatzinikolaou A, Sovatzidis A, Draganidis D, Boldogh I, Radak Z Exp Gerontol. 2012 Jun; 47(6):417-24. 

32. Chen HT, Chung YC, Chen YJ, Ho SY, Wu HJ. Effects of different types of exercise on body composition, muscle strength, and IGF-1 in the elderly with sarcopenic obesity. J AmGeriatrSoc. 2017;65:827832. 

33.Yoo SZ, No MH, Heo JW, et al. Role of exercise in age-related sarcopenia. J Exerc Rehabil. 2018;14(4):551-558. Published 2018 Aug 24. doi:10.12965/jer.1836268.134 

34.Hong AR, Kim SW. Effects of Resistance Exercise on Bone Health.Endocrinol Metab (Seoul). 2018;33(4):435-444. doi:10.3803/EnM.2018.33.4.435 

35. Nystoriak MA, Bhatnagar A. Cardiovascular Effects and Benefits of Exercise. Front Cardiovasc Med.2018;5:135. Published 2018 Sep 28. doi:10.3389/fcvm.2018.00135

36. Sonstroem, RJ. The physical self-system: A mediator of exercise and self-esteem. In: The physical self: from motivation to well-being. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 1997. pp. 326.

37. SantaBarbara, N. and Ciccolo, J. (2016). A Systematic Review of the Effects of Resistance Training on Body Image. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 48, p.693.