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Olwen Anderson's Blog

Exercise is good for everything

Saturday, January 03, 2015
It’s the time of year when so many of us are looking towards the coming 12 months and pondering what goals to aim for. You probably are too. Just in case ‘get healthier’ is on your resolution list I’d like to suggest a goal that could help you feel better in both body and spirit.

Well, you probably what it is already: Exercise, every day. You know it’s good for you. You’d have to live in a cave with no TV or internet to not have been told. From government campaigns to reality TV shows the message is out there: Get fitter and reap the benefits. And yet many people don’t. 

What is it that puts people off exercising? After all, this health booster is virtually free, you can squeeze it into the busiest of schedules, and there are endless varieties. Perhaps one of the key reasons is that you don’t have to exercise to survive in the modern world. If you so desire, you can spend your life hardly moving from your couch. Perhaps another reason is that the term ‘exercise’ can bring on feelings of ‘have to’ rather than ‘want to’. It can seem like a chore, particularly if you don’t enjoy the exercise you’ve chosen.

Actually, the benefits of exercise as good-for-just-about-everything are written up in the peer reviewed scientific literature. And sometimes you’ll find that endorsement in surprising places. I was delighted to read a statement in the British Journal of Pharmacology citing exercise as a “vastly underused therapy…..the overall benefit of exercise in its entirety is not going to be replaced by a pill”. (If you’d like to look closer at the paper it’s in vol 170 p.1153-1166, ‘Mechanisms governing the health and performance benefits of exercise’ by D Bishop-Bailey.)

Exercising regularly can reduce your risk of contracting diabetes, breast cancer, colon cancer, stimulates the growth of new bone (do you know that bone tends to rebuild itself stronger when it’s challenged? Even line dancing helps stimulate new bone growth!) If you’re feeling low, exercise can stimulate the production of happiness-inducing neurotransmitters. It’s a great anti-aging strategy, effectively helping arrest the muscle loss that comes with aging. In short: It’s good!

Of course you don’t have to launch yourself into Olympic-intensity training to reap the benefits. If you have an illness or injury it makes sense to check in with your doctor first. And a tip: If that exercise is enjoyable you’re more likely to keep going. So pull out those dancing shoes, lace up your runners, pick up the racquet and make it fun! Then you’ll have an achievement to be proud of by the end of 2015, and feel better.

If you enjoyed this article, you might also enjoy 'The Secret To Making Exercise Happen', here

P.S If you think that looks like the author of this blog post in the photo, you're right. This is me after completing my first fun run some years ago. Just 10km - and it WAS fun! 

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