Why is keeping active so important to our health?

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Unless you are a farmer or a jockey or a professional dog walker then activity in your daily life is

likely to take a back seat to your money-earning role. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s any the

less important. Exercise is a key ingredient in both health and happiness, and if were packaged as a

treatment it would be labelled ‘miracle cure’.

Why so miraculous?

The human body is designed to be kept at its physical and cognitive best through regular exercise.

Exercise reduces the risk of major illnesses such as heart disease, strokes, cancer and diabetes by up

to 50%. In other words, lethargy makes you ill.

So what happened?

As we evolved exercise was never intended to be structured, but rather a by-product of normal life.

As generations have gone by, inventions have raced ahead and technology has enveloped most of

our lives. How does this affect our health? Well, now we have cars to drive everywhere, machines do

our washing and drying and our entertainment is largely screen-orientated. This has had a disastrous

effect on physical health.

Regular exercise doesn’t just benefit the body, but also the mind. It boosts self-esteem, stimulates

endorphins so mood is enhanced and substantially reduces the risk of stress, depression, anxiety,

dementia and degenerative diseases such as Alzheimers.

What counts as exercise?

Unfortunately, only exercise which raises the heartrate by a certain amount can actually be called

beneficial. The word ‘exercise’ tends to be a catch-all term, but in fact it needs to be of moderate

intensity. A good barometer as to whether you are working hard enough to increase muscle

tone/lose weight, is if you are breaking a sweat. If you are red-faced, slightly sweaty and out of

breath – enough that you can still talk but couldn’t sing a song – then that activity will be beneficial

to your body and whatever aim you are looking to achieve.

Sedentary lifestyles and convenience food have a lot to answer for, but now that we are fully aware

of the risks we, as a species, will be able to combat the effects. Increasing your level of activity is

very easy. All you need to do is to look at your lifestyle and what exercise you currently do and see if

you can increase it. For example, if you take your dog for a morning walk, try lengthening the walk

by half a mile and then a mile. Or if you take public transport to work, you can get off a stop or two

early. Running up the stairs instead of walking – all these little things that you can quite easily build

into your daily routine are worth incorporating.

For those who want more structured exercise the following activities are a good way of burning

calories and increasing muscle tone:

 Power walking

 Aerobic classes

 Bike riding

 Playing racket sports

Or for the ultimate challenge – take up training for a marathon! That will certainly give you a reason

to get active.

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