We all recognise that physical activity is good for us but not everyone thinks about why…
What benefits does an active lifestyle actually give to us, what changes can it make to our bodies and minds and what can we change ourselves to become more active and to enjoy the potential benefits?
The whole concept of being active means different things to different people; it can be affected by many different factors, such as where you live, how old you are and how healthy you feel. It is all too easy to compare yourself to other people but instead, focusing on yourself and your own daily life along with the changes you could make can lead to real benefits.
For some, it might mean an hour spent tidying the garden if the weather is dry or a trip to your local swimming pool. For others it might mean renewing your gym membership or rejoining a fitness class now you are able to.
The truth is any step however small towards a more active lifestyle is a really positive achievement for so many reasons.
Here are just a few of them.
- Physical activity can help you to control your weight, cutting your risk of heart disease and helping to better manage your blood sugar levels
- An active lifestyle can help improve your joints and strengthen muscles and bones
- It can help you to do daily activities, improve your balance and reduce the risk of falls
- It helps to lower cholesterol, blood pressure and the chance of suffering from a wide range of other chronic conditions
- Physical activity can bring people together socially, which is really important after months of isolation for many of us
The benefits of physical activity aren’t just physical; it can help with our mental health and wellbeing too.
Sleep is vital for our mental wellbeing and a more active lifestyle can help us to enjoy a good night’s sleep as well as improving memory and brain function. Physical activity can also to reduce our cortisol levels, a chemical in our bodies which causes stress.
Not all chemicals in our bodies have negative effects though; some can have an instant and positive impact on how we feel mentally. Dopamine levels for example can lift us out of depression and help us feel pleased and satisfied when we make the effort to be active. Serotonin can be equally beneficial for sleep, digestion and overall happiness. Spending time outdoors in the daylight and exercising socially can boost these chemicals and give us a much needed seasonal lift.
Recent times have made it challenging to be physically active. The forced closure of gyms, pools and exercise classes have all had an impact on our ability to enjoy an active lifestyle. Now, those places are open again after months of planning and investment to make them safe.
There’s never been a better time to get out there and get involved!