Mental and Physical Health: All About the Benefits of Exercise
Exercise is good for your health, but why? I list the benefits of physical activity point by point and highlight the most important things in my home fitness area: whatever my current motivation, I can remember why I started and what I want to achieve!
Key Figures for Exercise and Health
I started working out with a personal goal in mind, whether it was to lose weight, sculpt my figure or just stay fit. It’s always good to remember that exercise not only helps me achieve my goals but it also affects my whole body, far beyond what I expect from it! Here are some key figures on the link between exercise and health:
- According to a study carried out with 4,000 participants, Europeans have a rather sedentary lifestyle, sitting for long periods at the office, in transport or at home: the Finns fare best, with only 5.5 hours of inactivity. The Germans (7:18), the French (7:24) and the British (8:00) are much less active! It’s up to me to include sport among my habits!
- By exercising for just 3 hours a week, I significantly reduce the risk of cardiovascular problems or chronic diseases.
- With intense effort, I can lower my LDL level, also known as bad cholesterol, by up to 20%. Moderate activity for 30 minutes at least twice a week for 3 months helps me increase my HDL level, which acts as a protector of the arteries while also reducing my triglyceride level.
- The femoral neck fracture risk is reduced by 6% by walking 1 hour per week and by 40% with 4 hours!
- Maintaining a minimum level of physical activity after the age of 80 would reduce the risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s.
- Regular exercise helps to balance energy intake and expenditure to fight against obesity. According to the WHO, in 2016, 1.9 billion adults were considered overweight, i.e. 1/4 of the world’s adults!
- Doing sport also has a beneficial effect on my mood, stress, sleep and libido, notably by producing hormones, such as endorphins! One study reports that the sexual satisfaction index of women who took 3 to 4 Pilates sessions per week improved significantly.
To stay fit for a long time, both physically and mentally, I start exercising now, or I continue to do so!
Which Type of Exercise Should I Choose for Which Effect?
Among the multitude of physical activities that exist, I am spoilt for choice! I can decide which criteria are important to me in choosing the type of exercise to do:
- I work on my endurance, my breath and my cardio capacities with running, walking, elliptical, rowing, cycling, etc.
- I improve my reflexes with tennis or badminton.
- I boost my creativity with dance, synchronised swimming, etc.
- I get plenty of fresh air with skiing, hiking, climbing, Nordic walking, mountain biking, etc.
- I tone up with cross-training, gymnastics, windsurfing, etc.
- I improve my libido with Qi Gong, yoga, swimming, Pilates, etc.
- I relax and loosen up with yoga, tai chi, stretching, etc.
- I develop my team spirit with a team sport, such as football, basketball, volleyball, etc.
- I learn to defend myself, to control myself and to push myself by choosing a combat sport: judo, krav maga, karate, etc.
Whatever I want to do and whatever my personality, there are always exercises that are right for me!
How Long Should I Train to Be Healthy?
It is recommended that we exercise for at least 150 minutes of moderate effort or 75 minutes of more intense effort per week. The WHO states that 60 consecutive minutes of physical activity provides greater health benefits and that an endurance session should last for at least 10 continuous minutes to feel the benefits. Ideally, you should be active on a daily basis, not only during training but also while walking, gardening, carrying groceries, etc.
How do I plan and divide my sessions during the week? Most official organisations recommend about 30 minutes of activity 3 times a week to quickly notice the effects of sport on health. But as always, I don’t put any pressure on myself since every movement counts: I progress day by day and make more and more room for fitness in my life, at my own pace!