We all know it's important to get off the couch and get active, but there are more tangible health benefits to exercising regularly than you think... even if you just exercise for 30 minutes a day.
Think of what 30 minutes really is in relation to the rest of your 24-hour day. It's a fraction: 1/48th to be exact. Ask yourself - is that a fraction of time that you can spare if it meant greater agility and energy for everyday tasks, lower healthcare costs and a longer, healthier life?
Research shows that 30 to 60 minutes of moderate-intensity training a day has tremendous health benefits. Mari Leach, a biokineticist at Discovery Vitality, explains why these minutes make all the difference:
Exercise reduces disease risks
Getting active and fit has been shown to decrease the risk of - and manage - a number of lifestyle diseases. Studies prove that even a moderate level of regular exercise can:
- Improve insulin sensitivity thereby reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes
- Increase good cholesterol (HDL) and decrease bad cholesterol (LDL)
- Reduce the risk of atherosclerosis, the build-up of plaque (fatty substances) in our arteries
- Lower the risk of high blood pressure (hypertension)
- Improve blood circulation, lowering the risk of stroke
- Strengthen the immune system, lowering susceptibility to illnesses like the common cold
- Help us "bounce back" quicker after being sick, and
- Lower the incidence of certain types of cancers, including breast cancer.
Exercise helps with weight management
Maintaining a healthy body weight involves balancing your energy intake from food with your energy output through exercise. We start losing fat when we expend more energy than we consume. So the best way to tip this equation to lose weight is to reduce the "energy in" by consuming fewer kilojoules and increase "energy out" through exercise.
Exercise protects your bones
As we get older, the loss of bone mass can lead to serious health problems, such as osteoporosis. The good news is that your skeleton becomes stronger in response to the mechanical loading (e.g. weight lifting) that occurs during exercise. Studies have shown that people who exercise regularly have higher bone density and lower hip and vertebral fractures than age-matched people who live sedentary lifestyles.
Exercise is an effective stress buster
Exercising provides a "time out" from the stresses of daily living. The reason is chemical: when we exercise, our body secretes hormones called endorphins that help improve our mood. Other hormones that help us control stress and anxiety - norepinephrine, dopamine and serotonin - are also secreted in higher amounts during exercise. Regular physical activity is also a proven intervention to alleviate the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Exercise helps you sleep better
People who exercise regularly fall asleep quicker, sleep better and feel less tired during the day than those who don't.
"At the end of the day," says Mari, "exercise is a priority worth keeping. Make it yours!"
4 ways to get started with Discovery Vitality
- Join a weekly parkrun near you for free, timed 5km runs. As a Vitality member, you can earn 300 Vitality points for completing a parkrun event. All you need to do is register a profile on www.parkrun.co.za.
- The Team Vitality running club supports runners of all levels in a range of events. Enjoy up to 50% cash back on selected race entries, free, quality kit and hospitality after selected races, plus earn up to 5 000 Vitality points events you complete.
- Activate Vitality Active Rewards - it's free and you'll earn rewards like smoothies and raw juices from KAUAI, coffee from Mugg & Bean and vida e caffè, and popcorn from Ster-Kinekor for achieving your fitness goals every week.
- Do a Vitality Fitness Assessment to give you an understanding of your fitness level, and get tips for how to improve it. Plus you can earn 2 500 Vitality points for doing the assessment, and up to 5 000 additional points depending on how fit you are.
Become a winner by getting fitter: join Vitality today!
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