We are living in information age and in times when civilisation is constantly digitalising. Our changing lifestyle has affected every facet of our lives and our health is no different. Modern living comes with the burden of sedentary lifestyle, fast food and high levels of stress. One of the most recent books titled “Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life” authored by Francesc Miralles and Hector Garcia studied the lives of centenarians in Japan. They noted that leading healthy lifestyle was certainly a way of living to longevity in certain regions among Japanese population. One of the key pillars of healthy behavioural interventions is physical activity. Here, we review some of the interesting and powerful benefits of physical activity.
About Physical Activity
Physical activity is any type of body movement done by free will produced by skeletal muscles which requires a big amount of energy. Physical activity encompasses all activities, at any intensity, performed during any time of day or night. It includes exercise and casual activity integrated into our daily activities.
Benefits of physical activities can be divided into two categories:
I. Immediate Benefits
Instant benefits of some physical activities like running or walking right after the exercise can occur on your brain health. Regular physical activity helps you keep your thinking, learning, and judgment skills sharp. It can also reduce your risk of anxiety and depression and help you sleep better.
II. Long Term Benefits
A. Weight Management
Physical activity plays an important role to maintain a healthy body weight, and to lose body weight, or to maintain a successful weight loss. Consistent and regular physical activity is required to reach or maintain a healthy weight.
For maintenance of weight
Workout or exercise for up to 2.5 hours a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or running. Strong scientific studies show that physical activity can help to maintain weight.
For weight loss
You may be required to do a high amount of physical activity such as running or exercise. Getting to and staying at a healthy weight requires regular physical activity and a healthy eating plan.
B. Reduce risk of lifestyle diseases
Stroke and Heart disease are two of the leading causes of death. Performing at least 2.5 hours a week of moderate-intensity exercise or physical activity can reduce the risk for these diseases. Regular physical activity could also lower blood pressure and improve cholesterol levels.
Type 2 Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome
Regular physical activity also reduces the risk of development of type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is combination of too much fat around the waist, high blood pressure, low High-Density Lipoproteins HDL-C (the good cholesterol), high triglycerides, or high blood sugar. People may start to seek benefits at levels of physical activity below the recommended 2.5 hours a week.
Physically active people may have lower risk for development of several commonly occurring cancers. Research shows that adults who participate in greater amounts of physical activity have reduced risks of developing cancers of the:
Healthy Bones and Muscles
As we get older, it is very important to protect our muscles, bones & joints because they support our body and help us move. Keeping bones, joints, and muscles healthy ensures that we are able to do our daily activities. Doing running, aerobics, muscle-strengthening, and bone-strengthening physical activity at a moderately-intense level could delay the loss of bone density that comes with age.
C. Potential to Increase Longevity
Scientific studies show that physical activity can reduce your risk of dying early from leading causes of death, like heart disease and some cancers. This is remarkable in two ways:
- People who are physically active for about 2.5 hours a week have a 33% lower risk of all-cause mortality than those who are physically inactive.
Small amounts of physical activity can reduce your risk of premature death.