By Christine Nguyen (Physiotherapist and Clinical Pilates Instructor)
It’s time to change your thinking about exercise – if you’ve fallen off the track already and your 2020 fitness goals are looking more like 2021 fitness goals – maybe a shift in your motive will help.
‘Exercising more’ is consistently in the top 10 list of New Year’s Resolutions. When January rolls around, so does a new wave of motivation to get fitter, grow a six-pack and run 10kms. Now that January is behind us and March is around the corner, you may have noticed your motivation dwindling, your
sleep in’s become longer and your after-work workouts become after work knock-off’s.
What if we change our thinking around WHY we are exercising? A shift in motive may sustain your drive for a healthier you. Fitspo Instagram models aside, let’s look at the science as to why we should exercise more.
- Exercise directly affects the health of your brain both short term and long term
Neuroscientist Dr. Wendy Suzuki recently did a TED talk on exercise and the brain. It has been proven that when you exercise, your brain releases dopamine, serotonin, and noradrenaline which immediately improves focus, attention and reaction time for at least 2 hours. So not only will you feel generally HAPPIER, but you will find yourself being more productive in your work.
- Exercise has a protective effect on the brain
Let’s talk about the two areas of the brain that are the most susceptible to irreversible neurodegenerative diseases and cognitive decline in ageing – the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex. Like muscles, the more you exercise, these two areas of your brain actually get bigger. With increased exercise over your lifetime, it will create an environment that is harder for diseases like dementia or Alzheimers to have an effect. It’s not a cure, but it will protect your brain from incurable brain diseases.
- Exercise significantly reduces your risk for many cancers
A recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology found that exercise can reduce the risk of SEVEN different types of cancer. In particular, it is well researched that exercise reduces the risk of bowel cancer as waste passes through your system faster when you exercise, thereby reducing contact with cancer-causing agents. Breast cancer and exercise have also been studied extensively, with research showing that higher levels of exercise decrease the oestrogen levels in the body.
- Exercise makes your bones stronger
Impact and load-bearing exercises like running or weightlifting have been shown to improve bone density and prevent bone loss.
- 5. Exercise decreases your risk of developing heart disease
Did you know your heart is actually a muscle? Like with any muscle in the body, it will get stronger the more you use it. By elevating your heart rate during exercise, your heart muscle becomes more powerful and is more effective in pumping blood around your body at less effort. The blood flow from regular exercise also allows the arteries and veins to remain flexible.
- Exercise causes your body to respond better to insulin, which lowers your risk of diabetes
Lower blood glucose levels over time mean a decreased risk of insulin resistance and developing type 2 diabetes.
The science speaks for itself. As a rule of thumb, you should be aiming for 150 minutes per week (i.e 5 x 30-minute sessions) of moderate-intensity exercise. Exercising will make you happier, feel more energized and decrease your risk of developing a multitude of diseases. The chiseled abs will just be a bonus!
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