The often-unasked question about why exercise is so recommended
We know we have to. We know it’s good for our health. But why? What does it do?
First, let’s just take a second to appreciate HOW good it is for overall health.
The foremost and most simple thing we know about exercise is that it reduces the risk of all-cause mortality – that means, those who are more physically active are less likely to die of any cause. One large study suggests that those who reach the strength training guidelines have an 11% lower risk of all-cause mortality, those who are meeting the aerobic guidelines reduce their risk by 29%, and those who meet both resistance and aerobic guidelines reduce their chance by a whopping 40%! (Zhao, M et al. 2020).
Your exercise doesn’t even have to be too complex, with this study comparing steps per day and all-cause mortality showing a 12% lower risk per 1,000 steps per day of walking, and also noting that 16,000 steps per day was associated with a 66% reduction compared to walking just 2,700 steps per day! (Jayedi et al. 2021) This is a massive change!! For perspective, smokers see a 70-80% increased risk compared to non-smokers, suggesting that regular movement does almost as much for your health as being a non-smoker.
To expand further on this, those who are physically active also see a reduced risk of most cancers, heart disease, lung disease, mental illness including depression and anxiety, diabetes… the list goes on (Booth et al 2012)
Sounds pretty good right?
But that’s not all.
The above statistics are awesome from a public health perspective, and avoiding disease is excellent. But there is more depth to why exercise is good aside from avoiding the negative health consequences of not exercising.
Looking broadly, exercise increases quality of life across the board across multiple measures. (Martin et al 2009).
Exercise in and of itself independently affects mental health and feelings of satisfaction meaning it increases your positive feelings and emotions directly. Furthermore, we also see increases in strength and function, reduced pain, improved self-efficacy and confidence as well as the ability to maintain doing the things you love.
If you haven’t seen it, this video from Canadian health sums it up beautifully:
So to simply answer the question posed at the start of this article of ‘why is exercise so good for our health’ – not only does exercise help us live longer and free us from chronic disease, but there is good reason to believe that the longer life we do lead will be more fulfilling, healthier and more valuable to you.
So what are you waiting for! Let’s start planting that exercise seed together. There is a way to move for everyone, and always a place to start.
Need a hand getting there?
We’d love to help.
Book in a free 20 minute consult to see how we can get you moving for health, longevity and vitality at the link below the reference list
Booth, F.W., Roberts, C.K. and Laye, M.J., 2012. Lack of exercise is a major cause of chronic diseases. Comprehensive physiology, 2(2), p.1143.
Jayedi, A., Gohari, A. and Shab-Bidar, S., 2021. Daily Step Count and All-Cause Mortality: A Dose–Response Meta-analysis of Prospective Cohort Studies. Sports Medicine, pp.1-11.
Martin, C.K., Church, T.S., Thompson, A.M., Earnest, C.P. and Blair, S.N., 2009. Exercise dose and quality of life: a randomized controlled trial. Archives of internal medicine, 169(3), pp.269-278.
Zhao, M., Veeranki, S.P., Magnussen, C.G. and Xi, B., 2020. Recommended physical activity and all cause and cause specific mortality in US adults: prospective cohort study. Bmj, 370.