Every year I have the same conversations with friends and clients about their new years resolutions and what they’re going to do differently this year. These resolutions usually range from learning a new skill, finding a new hobby, changing diet and more often than not….. exercising more!
And everyone who is a member of a gym has seen that massive increase in people working out (in their fancy new gear) for the first few weeks of the year only to see it slow down by February!
So here is my attempt to convince you to choose exercise as your new years resolution this year and to hopefully stick to it!
What are the real benefits of exercising?
Research into the effects of exercise have undoubtably shown that it decreases feeling of depression, stress and anxiety, and improves your mood (Ensari et al, 2016).
It has been found that exercise produces changes in the parts of the brain that regulate stress and anxiety, and increases the brains sensitivity to the hormone’s serotonin and norepinephrine, which relieve feelings of depression (Anderson et al, 2013). Exercise has also been found to increase the production of endorphins, which are known to help produce positive feelings and reduce the perception of pain (Anderson et al, 2013). Furthermore, exercise has also been found to help people suffering from anxiety be more aware of their mental state and practice distraction from their fears (Anderson et al, 2013).
Interestingly it seems that your mood can benefit from exercise no matter the intensity of the physical activity so even just a short walk or jog is likely to make you feel happier.
Boost your energy levels
Exercise has been found to be a real energy booster for healthy people, as well as those suffering from various medical conditions. A study carried out by Puetz et al (2006) found that six weeks of regular exercise reduced feelings of fatigue for 36 healthy people who had reported persistent fatigue.
Furthermore, exercise can significantly increase energy levels for people suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and other serious illnesses such as cancer, HIV/Aids and multiple sclerosis (Larun et al, 2016).
Many studies have shown that inactivity is a major factor in weight gain and obesity (Gim et al, 2016; Eriksson et al, 1997).
Your body spends energy in three ways: digesting food, exercising and maintaining body functions like your heartbeat and breathing. Going on a diet and therefore reducing your calorie intake will lower your metabolic rate, which will delay weight loss. However regular exercise has been shown to increase your metabolic rate, which will burn more calories and help you lose weight (Gim et al, 2016; Eriksson et al 1997; Gilliat- Wimberley et al, 2001).
Additionally, studies have shown that combining aerobic exercise with resistance training can maximize fat loss and muscle mass maintenance, which is essential for keeping the weight off (Eriksson et al, 1997; Gilliat- Wimberley et al, 2001).
Improve the health of your bones and muscles
Exercise plays a vital role in building and maintaining strong muscles and bones.
Physical activity like weight lifting has been found to stimulate muscle building when paired with adequate protein intake. This is because exercise helps release hormones that increase your muscles ability to absorb amino acids. This helps them grow and reduces their breakdown (Wolfe et al, 2006).
As people age, they tend to lose muscle mass and function, which can lead to injuries and disabilities. Practicing regular physical activity is essential to reducing muscle loss and maintaining strength as you age.
Also, exercise (particularly high impact exercise such as running or gymnastics) has been shown to promote higher bone density, which eventually helps to prevent osteoporosis later in life (Zulfarina et al, 2016).
Chronic pain can be debilitating but recent studies have found that exercise can actually help reduce it (Geneen et al, 2017). Exercise has been found to benefit people suffering from various health conditions, including chronic low back pain and fibromyalgia. Additionally, physical activity can also raise pain tolerance and decrease pain perception (Jones et al, 2014).
Reduce the risk of chronic illness
Low levels of regular physical activity is knwn to be a primary cause of chronic disease (Booth et al, 2014) and regular exercise has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity, cardiovascular fitness and body composition, yet decrease blood pressure and blood fat levels (Slentz et al, 2009).
A lack of regular exercise, even in the short term can lead to significant increases in belly fat, which increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and early death (Slentz et al, 2009).
Improve your skin
Research has found that your skin can be affected by the amount of oxidative stress in your body. Oxidative stress occurs when the body’s antioxidant defences cannot completely repair the damage that free radicals cause to cells. This can damage their internal structures and deteriorate your skin.
Regular moderate exercise can increase your body’s production of natural antioxidants, which help protect cells (Gomez-Cabrera et al, 2008). However, it is important also to understand that intense and exhaustive physical activity can contribute to oxidative damage so is not recommended.
In the same way, exercise can stimulate blood flow and induce skin cell adaptations that can help delay the appearance of skin aging.
Build more brain power!
It is thought that exercise can improve brain function and protect memory and thinking skills.
Firstly, it is thought that it increases your heart rate, which promotes the flow of blood and oxygen to your brain. It can also stimulate the production of hormones that can enhance the growth of brain cells. Lastly the ability of exercise to prevent chronic disease can translate into benefits for your brain, since its function can be affected by these diseases (Cotman et al, 2007).
Regular physical activity is especially important in older adults since aging, combined with oxidative stress and inflammation, promotes changes in brain structure and function (Kirk-Sanchez et al, 2014). Amazingly exercise has been shown to cause the hippocampus, a part of the brain that’s vital for memory and learning, to grow in size which is thought to increase mental function in older adults (Bherer, 2015).
So here’s the really exciting news…..Regular exercise can help you relax and sleep better (Driver et al, 2000). And engaging in regular exercise seems to be particularly beneficial for the elderly, who tend to be affected by sleep disorders (Reid et al, 2010).
It is thought that the energy depletion that occurs during exercise stimulates recuperative processes during sleep and therefore improves your sleep quality (Drier et al, 2000). In addition, the increase in body temperature that occurs during exercise is thought to improve sleep quality by helping it drop during sleep (Reid et al, 2010).
You can be flexible with the kind of exercise you choose. It appears that either aerobic exercise alone or aerobic exercise combined with resistance training can equally help sleep quality (Bonardi et al, 2016).
So how do I get started?
Starting a new exercise routine can be challenging. However, having real objectives can help you maintain a fitness program in the long term.
There are many different types of physical activity to choose from. Find a few that work for you and be sure to vary them occasionally.
The goal is to start slowly, build up your fitness level and let your body rest from time to time to prevent injuries.
Keeping track of your progress or joining a fitness group can help you stay motivated and achieve your goals. It’s also important to eat a healthy diet and hydrate regularly.
If you are struggling with pain or injury which is stopping you from exercising, or if you aren’t sure what type of exercise is best for you to start with then get in touch for a Physiotherapy assessment, treatment, advice or just some ideas!
email@example.com or call on 0161 759 3917
There are so many classes and groups in Sale and our surrounding area that we are spoilt for choice. So, what are you waiting for? Start exercising today!
Anderson E, and Shivakumar G. (2013) Effects of exercise and physical activity on anxiety. Front Psychiatry, 23, pp 4-27
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Zulfarina M.S., Sharkawi A.M, Aqilah S, Mokhtar S.A. Nazrun S.A. and Naina-Mohamed I. (2016) Influence of adolescents’ physical activity on bone mineral acquisition: a systematic review article. Iranian Journal of Public Health, 45 (12), pp. 1545-1557.