Our bodies require physical activity to thrive. Throughout human history, movement was vital for our survival. However, today, many of us have become sedentary due to our busy schedules, desk jobs and a lack of exercise.
Physical activity involves a harmonious coordination between your muscles, heart, and lungs. These organs work together seamlessly to enable movement. Their intricate interplay allows us to stay active, keep our bodies in motion, and ultimately maintain overall health.
In this article, we will delve into why incorporating physical activity into our daily routines surpasses the benefits of any medication. We will explore the different types of physical activity and their unique advantages. Lastly we will address the question of how much physical activity is enough to reap the benefits. Let's uncover more benefits of exercise together!
Did you know that your muscles secretes hormones?
While many people are aware of the role of muscles in movement, they may not be familiar with their function as an endocrine organ. Interestingly, when we exercise, our muscles release small chemicals known as "myokines." These myokines act as hormones, circulating through our bloodstream and producing various effects in different parts of our body.
One well-known myokine is irisin, which is released by our skeletal muscles in response to physical exercise. Studies have found that Irisin has protective functions in both our brain and peripheral nervous systems. It has been shown to stimulate the release of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), known for its effect on our hippocampus, the part of our brain where memories are stored. Irisin may have a potential role in protecting against cognitive decline, including Alzheimer's disease. Irisin has also been found to have various effects on our bodies, not limited to our brains. Studies have shown that it can improve glucose uptake by skeletal muscles and enhance hepatic glucose metabolism therefore helping us control our blood sugar levels. It also plays a role in lipid metabolism. Overall, it exerts positive effects on our body weight and helps control health conditions such as obesity and metabolic syndrome.
Another myokine released by our muscles during physical activity is called "Lac-Phe," which functions as a signal to suppress appetite and reduce the risk of obesity. It is believed to have a role in regulating food consumption and overall energy balance. This finding may explain why regular exercise helps with weight loss or to prevent weight gain and why it is essential for the prevention of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome.
All four types of exercise are important for health.
Many people focus on one type of exercise and think it's sufficient. However, research indicates that it's essential to engage in all four types of exercise: endurance (aerobic), strength, balance, and flexibility. Each type offers unique benefits, such as improved performance, reduced risk of injury and even prevent boredom.
Endurance exercise, also known as aerobic training, involves activities that increase heart rate and breathing. This type of exercise promotes the dilation of blood vessels in the working muscles. It can lead to improved blood pressure control, healthier lipid profiles, and a lower incidence of diabetes and heart disease. If longevity is your goal, aerobic activity is the key.
Strength training, on the other hand, focuses on repetitive intense contractions of skeletal muscles through activities like weight lifting or resistance band exercises. Muscle-strengthening activities can result in a temporary increase in systolic blood pressure and peripheral vasoconstriction. The major benefits of strength training include increased muscle strength and muscle mass, improved bone density, improved insulin sensitivity and an enhanced overall strength and power.
Flexibility and balance exercises are also crucial components of a well-rounded fitness routine. Flexibility exercises help improve joint mobility and muscle elasticity, while balance training enhances stability and reduces the risk of falls, especially as we age.
Fitness experts recommend incorporating all four types of exercise into your routine to reap the unique benefits of each.
Move More. Sit Less.
Our physical activity guidelines for adults concur that engaging in at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week is necessary to prevent cardiovascular disease. But any form of movement is beneficial. We often associate physical activity with planned and structured exercises aimed at improving fitness, or at losing weight but there are other ways we move our bodies that we can include in our daily lives and everyday activity such as commuting, and even occupational activities such as household chores.
Counting your daily steps can be helpful too. A large meta analysis published in the Lancet in 2022 concluded that at least 5000 steps per day are necessary to see health benefits but for maximum benefits 7500 steps per day is best.
The Move Your Way Campaign is all about promoting physical activity for good health. It offers a wide range of activities suitable for people of all ages and fitness levels. Whether you're just starting out or have been active for years, there's something for everyone. If you're looking to improve your health and well-being, check out the Move your Way campaign and find an activity that suits you!
Take Away Points:
Here are the key takeaways about exercise for your health:
1. Regular exercise has numerous health benefits beyond just improving our cardiorespiratory fitness by strengthening muscles, heart, and lungs.
2. The muscles exert additional health benefits on the body via hormones called "myokines." The best known myokines are "irisin" and "lac-phe." They help regulate food consumption and energy balance, improve glucose uptake, enhance liver metabolism, and support mental health.
3. Not all physical activity is created equal. For maximum benefits, fitness experts recommend incorporating all four types of exercise into your routine: aerobic, strength, balance and flexibility training.
4. For a healthier life and to reduce the risk of heart disease, it is advised to do 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity per week. Counting your daily steps can be helpful too. Studies show that at least 5000 steps per day are necessary to see health benefits.
5. Move more and sit less to improve your quality of life! Talk to your healthcare provider about the Move Your Way Campaign and learn more about incorporating physical activity into your everyday life.