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Why you should keep moving: How exercise is good for your health

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From research as early as the 1950’s, we found out that the rates of Coronary Heart Disease amongst London bus drivers were almost double that of their more active bus conductor colleagues.

Fast forward 70 years and there’s now an abundance of evidence supporting the relationship between maintaining an active lifestyle, with improved physical and mental health.

The benefits include, but aren’t limited to, a reduced risk of:

  • cardiovascular disease
  • type II diabetes
  • some cancers
  • a reduction in depression, anxiety and stress.

As well as these reductions the benefits include an increase in self-esteem and confidence.

Scientific studies¹ which increased the participants’ walking and cycling activity levels have also shown improvements in:

  • cardiorespiratory fitness
  • favourable changes in cholesterol levels and blood pressure
  • reduction in BMI.

The benefits to physical and mental health are true for all age groups, and both healthy individuals and those with underlying health conditions.

This means it’s never too late to start making changes to your lifestyle and gain the benefits of becoming more active. Taking part in regular physical activity has also been shown to enhance our immune response.

A recent review of studies concluded that leading an active lifestyle was associated with a reduced risk of bacterial and viral infections, as well as chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and cancer.

The studies showed that maintaining an active lifestyle could even delay age associated declines in immunity. This means regular exercise is recognised as an important approach to enhancing the body’s immune response.

How much exercise should we aim for?

Current UK physical activity guidelines recommend the following:

  • Children and young people (5 – 18 years) should be aiming for an average of at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity every day.
  • Adults (19-64 years) and older adults (65+) should aim to achieve 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity, or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity each week.

This can be achieved through a combination of both moderate and vigorous intensity physical activity whereby one minute of vigorous-activity equals two minutes of moderate-intensity activity.

The difference between moderate and vigorous activity

During moderate-intensity activity, you’ll breathe faster and experience an increase in your heart rate, you may also notice you feel warmer. But you should still be able to maintain a conversation.

However, during vigorous-intensity activity, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to maintain a conversation and you may notice you’re sweating.

If you’re new to activity, you can start with just 10-minutes of lower intensity physical activity, such as simple activities around the house, and slowly increase the amount and intensity of the activity at a pace that suits you.

(1) Pekka, 1998, Gilson, 2007, Pizzaro et al., 2013, Flint et al., 2016

Sam Davis Content Contributor, Warwick Sport

Sam is a content writer and sport enthusiast with a keen interest in football, judo, and hockey.


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