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Role of Physical Activity in Health

Written by
Shuchi Jain
and medically reviewed by Mohammed Wajid

Published on Oct 06, 2022   -  6 min read

Abstract

Exercise helps you feel, function, and sleep better. There exists a connection between body and mind. Let us see how exercise contributes to health.

Introduction:

Exercise is one of the best ways to improve overall health and well-being irrespective of age, abilities, shape, and size. Anyone can take the health benefits of exercise. It has its impact on every organ of the body, such as - the brain, heart, lungs, liver, etc. Hence it plays a crucial role in physical, mental, and social well-being. Lack of exercise leads to chronic health illnesses such as cardiovascular diseases, pulmonary diseases, diabetes, cancer, etc.

What Role Do Physical Activities Play in Health?

Physical activity plays an important role in mental and physical health. It is a remedy for stress, depression, anxiety, cardiovascular disorders, and other related diseases. There lies a strong connection between body and mind. When you have a fit body, you have a healthy mind.

Perform activities such as:

  • Aerobic exercise, running, swimming, cycling. It helps you feel energetic, delivers maximum oxygen, enables good blood flow, and provides many psychological benefits.

  • The brain responds well if we exercise regularly.

  • It distracts you from unwanted burdens and rumination. Instills mindfulness and calmness.

  • Regular exercise helps in combating high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, diabetes, and any other diseases.

How and Why People Were More Fit In Older Days Than Today?

The Good Old Days:

Advancement has led to an automated culture. People in the past used to do various strenuous exercises as a part of their routine. But nowadays we have automatic machines for almost everything. Take the example of farming; people in the old days worked very hard in the fields and did all such exercises that we today call - cardio and weight lifting. People in those days used to walk more (because of lack of transportation). They used to eat healthy meals, less sugary drinks, and junk food, with no reliability on pizza and pasta. Thus this healthy lifestyle added to their secret of disease-free life.

A Shift of Time:

Nowadays, people have an excuse for lack of time, busy schedules, overwork, and improper work-life balance. They do not want to indulge in an unpurposeful act like running on a treadmill.

A shift in the diet and food pattern acted as icing on the cake. People are more into junk food, unhealthy lifestyle, and sugary and alcoholic drinks. Thus they are more prone to various chronic diseases.

What Impact Does Physical Inactivity Leave On Your Body?

If you are into a lifestyle that makes you sit more and move less or a sedentary lifestyle where you are simply a couch potato, that is called physical inactivity. Most of us usually spend our time watching television or movies, working on laptops, using mobile phones, traveling in cars, and resulting in sitting for a longer time. It has resulted in weight gain, obesity, weaker bones, less muscle strength, poor blood circulation, and hormone imbalance.

Weight Gain and Obesity: Sitting more often and moving fewer leads to a few calories burned. It has resulted in weight gain and obesity.

Muscle Strength and Bone Weakening: Since the muscle is not in much use, this leads to loss of muscle strength and not working, or physical inactivity also results in bone weakening.

Diabetes: Inactive lifestyle raises the risk of developing diabetes. Regular exercise regulates glucose metabolism, weight, and cholesterol, thereby reducing the risk of type two diabetes.

Heart Diseases: Not getting enough physical activity can lead to various heart-related issues. It includes coronary artery diseases, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and other related diseases. Regular exercise can lower blood pressure and improve cholesterol levels.

Cancer: Inactive lifestyle is the leading cause of many cancers like bladder, breast, colon, and lung cancers. Regular physical activity along with a healthy diet encourages a healthy lifestyle, thereby reducing the risk of cancer.

What Are the Benefits of Exercise?

Here is a list of a few health benefits of regular exercise:

  • Improved energy levels and less tiredness.

  • Improved sleep patterns.

  • Improved bone health and muscle strength.

  • Improved cognitive skills.

  • Reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancer, dementia, and other diseases.

  • Strengthens the immune system.

  • Improved mood, manages depression, anxiety, and stress.

  • Weight management.

Immediate Benefits of Regular Physical Activity:

  • Sharp thinking abilities, learning skills, and overall development.

  • Reduces stress, anxiety, and depression.

  • Bones and Muscle Strength - Healthy bones, muscles, and joints ensure we perform daily physical activities with ease. Weight lifting manages muscle mass and strength. If the body is in constant motion even at an older age, one can easily climb stairs, go grocery shopping, take a good walk, and can prevent disorders that may result from inactivity.

  • Weight Management - Weight gain occurs when calorie consumption is more and expenditure is less. In simple terms, incoming (intake of calories) is more and outgoing (calorie burn) is less. Regular exercise is a game-changer in weight management. To maintain weight or lose weight, a good amount of physical activity and desired intake of calories (healthy eating) are required.

  • Health-Related Risks - Moderate physical activity can lower the risk of these diseases by maintaining blood pressure and cholesterol levels. It also plays a crucial role in regulating glucose metabolism, thereby helping in reducing the risk of developing type two diabetes.

Why Is It Necessary to Be Active?

For Children:

  • Improve attention, memory, and overall academic performance.

  • Keep a check on brain health and reduce the risk of depression.

  • Build strong muscles and overall body development.

  • Improve heart health, maintain normal sugar levels, and reduce the risk of several diseases.

  • Keep a check on body weight and reduce body fat.

For Adults:

  • Lower the risk of chronic diseases.

  • Prevention of weight gain.

  • Improve mental health.

  • Improves joint mobility and prevents bone weakening, muscle loss, and arthritis.

How to Start?

If you have been inactive for a while or have never been a part of physical activity, you need to start slow, and once the routine is maintained, gradually increase it. Always feel motivated by the quote - something is better than nothing. Consistency will lead you to achieve goals.

Let Us See How Can One Get Back on Track:

  • Make It Worthy: Do the exercise you find purposeful. Some feel walking a kid to school or a dog to the garden is a form of exercise, while others find treadmills of help. One of the most important things is - to feel motivated and stick to the decision firmly.
  • Cognitive Techniques: Start with baby steps. For example, take a target of ten minutes of walking. Once you achieve it, you will feel like adding a few more minutes to it. It is a cognitive behavior and acts as positive reinforcement.
  • Regularity and Persistency: For any task, regularity and punctuality are a must. Schedule exercise similar to how you eat and sleep. Make it a compulsory routine.
  • Make It Fun Doing and Not Forced Upon: Do whatever form you enjoy. Some feel pleasure in Zumba, while others like weight lifting. Some prefer sports while others dance. So it's totally up to you to choose whatever you enjoy. Do swimming, dancing, Zumba, sports, gymming, yoga, or simply a walk, anything of your choice. It keeps you active, and the motivation doesn't drop out.
  • Involve Others: People usually show better results when they work out with others. They can be their friends or colleagues. Involving people keeps you regular and motivated.
  • Start Gradually: A fresh start is a must. Begin by doing little and eventually increase the exercise pattern and timing. Do the one that is required and needed.

How to Be More Active Around the House or at Work?

Here are a few tips to be active around your house:

  • Keep moving while you watch, and do some stretching, gardening, or basic household chores.

  • Home workout.

  • Go out for a walk, walk your dog, kids.

  • Move while talking over a call (walk and talk).

Tips to Be Active While at Work:

  • In schools, 60 minutes of physical activity should be made compulsory.

  • Participate in sports.

  • Make a rule of walking every five minutes in an hour while working.

  • Choose stairs instead of elevators.

  • Instead of making a phone call or sending an email to your colleagues, go talk to them in person.

Conclusion:

Physical activity is a must for improved health and quality of life. It reduces the risk of several diseases and saves the treatment cost. In children, it enables better performance, a sharp mind, overall growth, and development. In young adults: it decreases the risk of mental illness, weight gain, obesity, and other chronic disorders. An active and workable community leads to a healthy society and environment. Choose to walk instead of vehicles to go to nearby places. It will prevent air and noise pollution. Small changes in preferences can make you healthier and disease-free.

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Last reviewed at:
06 Oct 2022  -  6 min read

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