Everyone has heard the phrase “If exercise were a pill, it would be one of the most cost-effective drugs ever invented”, and this cannot be overly enthused. Exercise exists as an immediate, free, safe practice by which to vastly improve our health, reduce mental stress, and even – yes – counter fatigue. Many people are not entirely aware of some of the lesser known benefits to exercise, and more still achieve the recommended guidelines for regular physical activity. The NHS recommends a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week, equating to just over 20 minutes a day. However, 67% of adults did not reach the minimum recommended activity levels in 2012, something which is heavily implicated in developing chronic and morbid conditions. But what are the real risks of not getting enough physical activity?
What counts as exercise?
A great method to quickly implement physical activity into your everyday life is to consider your lifestyle. Do you drive? Get the bus to work? Many people reap the benefits of physical activity by changing their transport or way of getting around. Many cities in the UK have a great cycling system with bike lanes and designated paths. Perhaps leaving 20 minutes earlier for work will give you time to walk in, avoiding the stress of traffic and giving your mind a relaxed start to your day. Even taking the stairs, walking faster and switching to a standing desk can be fundamental steps in developing a better relationship with exercise, encouraging you to do more and adopt it into your everyday life. Exercise is normally graded as light, moderate and vigorous. To start, aim to include more moderate exercise into your regime – this type of exercise allows you to say a couple of words in between breaths and you will notice your heart rate has raised. Vigorous exercise is when your breathing rate is noticeable, and it will be hard to manage a couple of words above your breathing.
What are the benefits?
The benefits of physical activity are wide ranging and multifaceted. However, the main benefits are summarised below;