What are 7 benefits of doing physical activity
Physical activity means movement that makes your muscles work and helps your body to shed off excess fat. Physical activity is important for children, adolescents, and adults of all ages. It promotes good health and keeps you active throughout all stages of your life.
As per WHO, people engaged in physical activities, have 20% to 30% higher chances of living a longer life as compared to people who are sufficiently inactive. Besides the fact, more than 80% of the world’s population is not physically active. So, it is important to acknowledge how physical activity helps to maintain good health and live a quality life. Read on to find out the 7 benefits of physical activity that demonstrates its importance.
Maintains Healthy Weight
If you want to maintain a healthy weight, physical activity plays a critical role in losing excess body weight or maintaining successful weight loss. Regular exercise and physical activities have been shown to increase the metabolic rate, which burns calories and helps to lose weight. Also, aerobic exercise along with resistance training can maximize fat loss which is essential for keeping a healthy weight.
People gain weight due to excess consumption of calories through eating and drinking. However, this excess calorie intake can be balanced with the help of a physical activity. But the question is how much physical activity people need? Well, as recommended by the WHO, the amount of physical activity for different age groups is as follows:
Recommendations on Physical activity
Children and adolescents (aged between 5-17 years)
Adults (aged between 18 to 64 years)
Old aged (aged above 65 years)
In a study conducted by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), thirty healthy adults were tasked to examine the effect of individual weekly exercise time on resting metabolic rate and VO2max (maximum volume intake). It was found that the amount of metabolic rate, VO2 max increased as the individual amount of exercise increased.
Summary: Physical activity increases the metabolic rate and decreases excess calorie in the body.
Keeps bones and muscles strong
By the age of 30, we hit the peak where our bones are the strongest. From ages 30 to around 50, your bone mass is pretty stable; and the bone density remains roughly the same because of a process known as bone remodeling. But after 50, start to lose bone more rapidly and you may end up with low bone density or even osteoporosis and it is mostly common among women. However, physical activity such as weight lifting can help in muscle building and maintaining strong muscles and bones.
Physical activities help to release hormones that help your muscles to absorb amino acids. This, in turn, makes the muscles grow and reduces their breakdown. Adults who experience reduced muscle mass and muscle strength can rely on physical activities like weight lifting to help overcome the problem. It is seen that weight lifting is very beneficial for muscle strengthening, no matter your age. With the increasing age, muscles might not function properly, which can lead to injuries and disabilities. However regular physical activity helps in reducing muscle loss and provides strength.
Physical fitness, such as gymnastics, running, or odd-impact sports, such as soccer and basketball, helps in building bone density which prevents osteoporosis later in life. The loss of bone density can also be reduced with aerobic, muscle-strengthening, and bone-strengthening physical activity. It also reduces the risk of hip fracture in people with old age.
Summary: physical activity releases hormones that absorb amino acids which helps in growing stronger bones and muscles.
Reduces the risk of Chronic and critical diseases
Lack of regular exercise can increase belly fat which may cause the risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
As per the data released by the WHO, an estimated 17 million people from all over the world suffer from Cardiovascular diseases, particularly heart attacks and strokes, every year. But, the chances of these diseases could be reduced through physical activities. Physical activities lower your blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
NCBI conducted a study on overweight men and women to examine the effects of physical activity on cardiovascular diseases. It was found that exercising at a level of 19 km/wk at 40 to 55% of peak V(O2) increases the aerobic fitness levels. Therefore, mild exercise helps to improve fitness and reduce cardiovascular risk.
Hence, even WHO recommends that at least 150–300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity; or at least 75–150 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or a combination of both can provide many health benefits to the body. You can reduce your risk even further with more physical activity.
Type 2 Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome
WHO recommends that a healthy diet, and regular physical activity are good ways to prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes.Regular physical exercise can also do wonders in reducing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome could be in any form like fat around the waist, high blood pressure, low High-Density Lipoproteins (HDL) cholesterol, high triglycerides, or high blood sugar. Physical activity for at least 30 minutes a day, seems to lower the risk of these problems.
Refer to the given study by NCBI to find out how Type 2 diabetes can be prevented by physical activities.
As per a NCBI study, the chances of colon cancer are 40-50% less among the most active individuals, compared with the least active. While many studies have found that active women have 25-30% less chance of developing breast cancer.
Dr Ala Alwan, WHO’s Assistant Director-General for Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health said, “Physical activity has a strong role to play in reducing the incidence of certain cancers.” The risk of breast and colon cancers can be reduced by doing at least 150 minutes a week of moderate physical activity, according to the new Global Recommendations on Physical Activity for Health released by WHO.
Physical activities also help to lower the risk of several commonly occurring cancers in:
- Colon (proximal and distal)
- Esophagus (adenocarcinoma)
- Stomach (cardia and non-cardia adenocarcinoma)
Summary: 150 minutes a week of moderate physical activities can lower the chances of cardiovascular diseases, Type diabetes and many types of cancers by keeping your body physically fit.
Makes you Happy
Physical fitness is also associated with improving your mood and decreasing feelings of depression, anxiety, and stress. As proved by a study of NCBI, physical activities like walking and yoga improves the mood.
It helps in preventing stress and anxiety by regulating the parts of the brain that secretes hormones such as serotonin and norepinephrine, which relieve feelings of depression. In addition, they increase the production of hormones like endorphins, which produce positive feelings and reduce the perception of pain. Hence, it also reduced the symptoms in people suffering from anxiety.
The amount of physical activity doesn’t matter. What matters is that we are not inactive. We should incorporate physical activities in our daily lives for mental well-being. A good amount of exercise every day can benefit your mood by making you happy every day and reducing the chances of stress, anxiety, and depression.
Here are the few benefits of physical activities that are associated with making you happy.
- Blocks the negative thoughts or distracts you from daily worries.
- When you work out with others, it provides an opportunity for social contact.
- Physical activities improve your sleep pattern and lift your mood.
- They change the levels of chemicals in your brain, such as serotonin, endorphins, and stress hormones, making you happy.
During this COVID-19 period, many children are getting stress and anxiety. Refer to our article “Anxiety in Teenagers During COVID-19” for more details.
Summary: Physical fitness makes you happy by lowering the risk of anxiety, stress and depression through release of serotonin and norepinephrine hormones.
Improves your brain health and memory
Physical activities can improve brain health and protect memory and thinking skills. When you do exercise, the heart rate increases, which promotes the flow of blood and oxygen to your brain. This results in the stimulation of hormones that improves the growth of brain cells.
Also, as we read earlier (REF – Point 2), physical activities lowers the risk of chronic diseases, which can affect your brain negatively. Hence, it protects your brain from being damaged by diseases.
It becomes important to get engaged in physical activities as with aging the brain structure and function changes due to oxidative stress and inflammation.
Also, it helps in the growth of the hippocampus, a part of the brain that is important for learning and memory. In addition, it also helps to eliminate the risk of brain diseases like Alzheimer’s disease and schizophrenia. Hence, physical activities improve the blood flow to the brain and keep your brain and memory healthy.
As proved in a study physical exercise interventions aimed at improving brain health show promise for preserving cognitive performance.
Summary: Physical activities improve the memory levels and thinking skills by pumping more blood and oxygen to your brain.
Improves your sleep and helps in relaxation
Physical activities improve the sleep cycle of many people. It is seen that moderate-to-vigorous exercise can improve sleep quality by decreasing the sleep onset and the amount of time spent lying awake in bed during the night. Exercises cause a lot of energy depletion that helps to stimulate recuperative processes during sleep.
Physical activities regulate your body’s circadian rhythm by increasing your body temperature. The body temperature falls significantly by bedtime, promoting restful sleep. We know that physical activity helps in stress-relieving, which keeps your mind and body relaxed. Hence you can sleep better at night without getting into negative thinking.
So for people suffering from sleep disorders including aerobic exercise along with resistance training will help to increase sleep quality. A study conducted by NCBI on effects of physical activities on sleep. It was concluded that 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous activity per week can improve the sleep quality by 65%.
Another study showed that 16 weeks of physical activity increased sleep quality. It helped 17 people with insomnia to sleep longer and helped them feel more energized during the day.
Summary: Physical activity can provide better quality of sleep by energy depletion and decreasing sleep onset.
Keeps your skin healthy
The level of oxidative stress in your body affects the quality of your skin. This type of stress occurs when the antioxidants defenses can not completely repair the damage caused to cells by the free radicals in the body. This damages the cells and deteriorates your skin.
With a moderate amount of physical activity, the production of antioxidants increases which protects your cells. It also stifles the blood flow and induces skin cell adaptation. All these things lead to a delay in the appearance of your skin. However, it should be noted that exhaustive and intense physical activities can increase oxidative damage. Hence, make sure that you are doing only a moderate amount of exercise.
In a study conducted to find the effects if exercise on oxidative stress and skin diseases, it was concluded that:
- regular moderate activity protects against ROS/RNS damage,
- endurance exercise with a lack of training mediates oxidative stress.
Hence, redox balance should be considered in the prevention and therapy of skin diseases.
Summary: Physical activity prevents oxidative stress, hence, keeps your skin healthy.
Physical activities help you in multiple ways. They make you feel better, boost your health and have fun. However, a wide range of the population is not engaged in physical activities. As per WHO data, and multiple studies, physical activity not only reduces anxiety, keeps mind and heart healthy, but also increases chances of a longer life by 20% to 30%. Hence, we should develop a routine where we should do exercise to keep ourselves fit and free of health problems.