Exercise should be an important part of our daily lives. Notice that I wrote ‘should be’ instead of ‘is’, for a lot of us do not include it in our daily lives. Exercise ensures that we stay fit and healthy, but it is something that many of us neglect. We make excuses like ‘I’m too tired’ or ‘I’m too busy’ (I have used these excuses too many times). Yet we seem to find the time and energy to scroll through Instagram or watch the new episode of our favourite show. So why can we not find the time to do something that will benefit our health?
Many of us do not exercise every day, let alone achieve our recommended daily exercise. For people in my age group, (5-18-year olds) it is recommended that we exercise for 60 minutes, every day. Many of us don’t even come close to accomplishing this. If you are reading this and are not included in this age range but would like to know your recommended daily exercise, it is available on the NHS website. (1)
We need to exercise. Starting from today. Stop putting it off for tomorrow, for tomorrow never comes. You, me – we all need to stop procrastinating and exercise (so we can eat those extra fries guilt-free).
There are numerous health benefits to exercising regularly. Exercise increases the strength and efficiency of your cardiovascular system, which transports oxygen and nutrients around your body. When your cardiovascular system works better, you will have more stamina and energy life will become easier for you. Muscle strength is also improved as muscles are kept strong by their constant use. Joint, tendons and ligaments are kept flexible which allows for easier movement. Exercise can help you maintain a healthy weight. This is because the more you exercise, the more calories you burn. Brain function is improved as exercise increases blood flow and oxygen levels in the brain. Blood pressure and blood glucose levels are controlled by exercise, thus reducing the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Physical activity causes you to be more tired, increasing the likelihood of an excellent quality of sleep. Stress and overall wellness are improved by a good quality of sleep. (1)(2)
People who do regular physical activity are found to be at a lower risk of many major illnesses such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and some cancers. (1)
Exercise has also even been found to improve mental health, helping with stress, anxiety and depression. This may be due to changes in chemical levels in the brain such as serotonin, endorphins and stress hormones. It may even provide people with a distraction or a way to release stress. (3)
Exercise doesn’t have to be painful. If you don’t like to run, don’t run! It’s not the only form of exercise. Find something you enjoy. There are countless ways to exercise: playing football, biking, weightlifting, hiking, swimming, dancing – absolutely anything. Just do something. Even if you can only spare 20 minutes of your day to exercise, that’s fine. Doing something is better than nothing.
By Bernice Mangundu.