Exercise is a common factor that is important at all life stages. When we are very young it helps us with coordination and bone density. As we grow into adulthood it helps with physical strength and mental wellbeing and as we age it helps us to support bone and muscle mass whilst maintaining joint suppleness. Exercise is defined as any activity requiring physical effort, carried out to sustain or improve health. As we know, exercise can have positive effects on both mental and physical health. According to the NHS, exercise can reduce your risk of major illnesses, such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and cancer by up to 50% and lower your risk of early death by up to 30%.
What systems does the body use?
The body uses several systems to perform exercise and to exert itself. Including:
- The cardiovascular system
- The respiratory system
- The musculoskeletal system
- The endocrine system (hormonal)
The cardiovascular system is made up of our heart and vessels. It is needed to pump the oxygenated blood around the body for active muscles and organs, whilst removing waste CO2.When we exercise the body quickly adapts by dilating blood vessels to allow blood to flow with greater efficiency to the working muscles. The respiratory system includes the mouth, trachea and lungs. Its role is to inhale oxygen and exhale CO2, this works very closely with the cardiovascular system. Breathing rate increases when we exercise so that we expel more waste gases and inhale more oxygen for active muscles and organs. Then, there is the muscloskeletal system, this is made up of bones, muscles, ligaments and tendons. These are responsible for movement, flexibility. Finally, you have the endocrine system, this is made up of organs, glands and hormones. When we exercise, we start to see a climb in hormones, adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol. Not to mention the release of human growth hormone (HGH) to enhance bone and tissue growth.
What are the benefits of exercise?
- May lower risk of chronic diseases such as Type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease and even some cancers. According to the NHS, exercise can reduce your risk of major illnesses, such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and cancer by up to 50% and lower your risk of early death by up to 30%. In addition, it is medically proven that people who exercise regularly have up to 83% lower risk of osteoarthritis, 68% lower risk of hip fracture, 50% lower risk of colon cancer and type 2 diabetes and 30% lower risk of depression and dementia.
- Improved insulin sensitivity. Insulin is the hormone that moves glucose from the blood into storage, such as in the muscles. One study found that, a single bout of exercise can increase insulin sensitivity for at least 16 hours post-exercise in healthy as well as non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus patients. This is thought to be due to increase gene expression for the transporter protein (GLUT4) for moving glucose into the muscles and out of the blood.
- Improved bone density, our peak bone mass occurs between out 20s-30s dependent on gender. If you continually add impact to the bones (through weight-bearing exercise) the body adapts by increasing bone production, via cells called Osteoblasts. This increases bone density and reduced risk of chronic diseases such as osteoporosis. This is particularly important for post-menopausal women who are at greater risks of fractures.
- Improved cardiovascular health, it does this as a combined effect of, a reduction in blood pressure, reduced LDL cholesterol and increase HDL cholesterol. One study found that physically inactive middle-aged women that engaged in less than 1 hour of exercise per week experienced a 50% increase in cardiovascular-related mortality.
- Improved brain health. Studies have demonstrated that people who exercise regularly have better long-term memory. One study demonstrated that the two areas responsible for control thinking and memory, the prefrontal cortex and medial temporal cortex have greater volume in people who exercise versus people who don’t. A 2011 study stated that ‘Exercise training increased hippocampal volume by 2%, effectively reversing age-related loss in volume by 1 to 2 years’.
- Improved mood. We all know that post-exercise buzz. This is something we covered heavily in January’s Mood series. For example, for those already diagnosed with a mood disorder research shows that depressed adults who took part in a fitness program displayed significantly greater improvements in depression, anxiety, and self-concept than those in a control group after 12 weeks of training. This effect was maintained through the 12-month follow-up period. These acute effects of exercise are thought to be due to the production and release of endorphins. Endorphins are primarily produced as a pain inhibitor, to reduce the perception of effort. A positive side effect of this being that they also help to lift mood.
According to the NHS, all adults should be taking part in at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week, or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise a week.
Moderate exercise includes:
- Water aerobics
- Stepping machines
- Pushing a lawn mower
- Riding a bike
Vigorous exercise includes:
- Jogging or Running
- Fast swimming
- Team sports like netball, football, hockey or rugby
- HIIT activity
- Martial arts
How to get involved in more exercise?
Sometimes, getting started is the hardest part of any exercise regime. Below are some handy tips on how to begin creating and exercise routine that works for you:
- Find a workout buddy that helps to keep you motivated
- Buy some equipment that targets your fitness goals.
- Start a fitness challenge such as the ‘Couch to 5K’
- Start small with a tiny habit, such as taking the stairs instead of the lift. Or walking to the local shop rather than driving.
- Remember that exercise doesn’t just look like a gym session it can also include gardening or cleaning the house.
- Try to minimise the time that you spend sitting. For example, you may like to jump up during the ad breaks and do some star jumps, squats, or even marching on the spot.
- Set yourself realistic goals. If you are new to exercise, jumping in at the deep end and opting for a marathon may be daunting, but why not aim for a 1 mile run instead.
- Get all the family involved in the challenge.
- Do something you enjoy, if you don’t enjoy the activity you are less likely to make a habit of the activity. Instead, choose something that you look forward to doing.
Products that may support your exercise regime...
As always with the Vytaliving articles, we wish for you to take away as much or as little from the article. Whether that’s a small snippet of information to add to your lifestyle, or, a product that you can use to boost your daily exercise routine.
Vytaliving provides a number of amazing workout gear to boost your home-workouts.
- The Stepper by Vytaliving – Effective for leg and lower back workouts. This simple, yet effective at-home machine helps you to build power to keep you muscles strong and healthy.
- The Compact Elliptical Strider by Vytaliving - This brilliant device can be used seated or standing. You can change the intensity of your workout by simply adjusting the resistance – all from your own home.
- The Maxiclimber by Vytaliving - This slimline machine provides a full-body workout in the comfort of your own home. It's been intelligently designed to activate the muscle groups to climb up a mountain. Suitable for all fitness levels.
- The Women’s Health Medicine Ball- This 4kg durable rubber medicine ball can be used within numerous home-workouts. It’s been designed for improved grip, even during the most intense workouts.
- The Gymstick Original- This compact and light gymstick provides a full-body workout at home by adding 1-10kg of resistance to your daily workout.
- The Vibroshaper- This is a simple yet effective form of home workout that uses vibrating plates to lift and tone the muscles.
- The Wondercore Twist Ab training Device-This smartly designed equipment helps you to put in minimal effort for maximum results. The wondercore twist trains the whole body by moving the 360 ° rotating disc to provide resistance and work your muscles.
- The Ab Squat- This will help you to achieve a perfect squat every single time. A great buy for those who want to minimise pressure on their knees but get an effective workout.
- The Women’s Health Power Bands- add a challenge to your workout by increasing resistance and improving strength. These can be added to most forms of exercise or circuit training for increased intensity.