Exercise and health
Types of Activities
There are all sorts of different activities that you can do to improve your health. Some examples of activities you can do to improve your health are:
Calisthenics or Aerobics
Aerobic activities are very important for our overall health and wellbeing especially for the health of your heart. They are continuous activities that use a whole range of muscles (e.g. walking, cycling and dancing).
Muscular Strength and Stamina
In addition to aerobic activity, it is also important to participate in some activity a couple of times a week which improves your muscular strength, stamina and flexibility. These activities will help build up your stamina, improve the shape of your body and muscles, make your bones and muscles stronger and prevent injury.
Climbing, circuit training and gymnastics are examples of sports that are good for muscular strength and stamina.
Flexibility or the range of movement around joints can be improved by doing flexibility exercises such as Yoga, Pilates or Tai Chi about twice a week. Flexibility is important for preventing muscles becoming sore and injured, helping you carry out everyday activities more easily and for improving posture.
Exercise and Health
Living an active lifestyle can help you to feel more energetic and feel better about yourself by building up your self-esteem. Medical research shows that sufficient physical activity can lower your risk of certain diseases by up to 83% (see NHS Choices), and there are several key aspects of health that can be improved:
- Integrating exercise into your daily routine can improve your lifestyle with regards to inactivity and obesity. It will also improve mood, relaxation, help you to sleep better, and be able to deal with everyday stresses more effectively. Some research indicates that regular aerobic exercise decreases depression and improves confidence and self-esteem. Certain hormones called ‘endorphins’ released into the body from the brain while exercising are deemed responsible for the mental health benefits.
- Exercising the major muscles enhances muscle strength through to old age, keeping limbs strong and bodies flexible. This dramatically reduces the risk of falls, hip fractures and improves overall bone health.
- Vigorous exercise increases deep breathing, and a good respiratory function is essential for sound health.
- Impaired glucose tolerance and other aspects of diabetes often result in the individual being overweight and inactive, and having high blood pressure and lipids (fats). Exercise, as part of a lifestyle change, has been shown to reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
- Gentle and sustained exercises such as walking and cycling are good for the heart and stimulate good blood circulation. This changes the proportions of high and low-density lipoproteins in the bloodstream and helps to reduce atherosclerosis, coronary thrombosis, blood pressure. In addition, levels of stress which induce coronary heart disease (CHD), the single most-common cause of death, can be reduced.
- There are a number of biological benefits in the body following physical activity, a number of which are believed to be responsible for reduced cancer rates. Lowering the levels of certain hormones (including insulin and oestrogen) and growth factors are believed to impact both colon and breast cancer development. The generalized improvement of the immune system and reduction of inflammatory responses are also believed to play a role.