Why is Regular Exercise Important?

Young woman demonstrates good running posture

Regular exercise plays a role in keeping us healthy in may different ways.

According to the Department of Health Australia, regular exercise for adults is participating in a minimum of 150-300 minutes of moderate intensity activity per week.

What is Regular Exercise?

The Department of Health publishes recommended movement guidelines for children (0-5; 5-17) and adults (18-64 years). Guidelines for Adults include:
  • Doing any physical activity is better than doing none. 150 minutes a week may sound daunting but gradually working up to it will make it easy!
  • Be active on most, preferably all, days every week.
  • Accumulate 150 to 300 minutes (2 ½ to 5 hours) of moderate intensity physical activity or 75 to 150 minutes (1 ¼ to 2 ½ hours) of vigorous intensity physical activity, or an equivalent combination of both moderate and vigorous activities, each week.
  • Do muscle strengthening activities on at least 2 days each week.
  • Avoid periods of prolonged sitting or break it up by standing or going for a walk
Whilst some of these guidelines may seem quite specific, they are just guidelines. The purpose is to encourage as much activity as possible on a daily basis. Some form of activity should be continued regardless of age!

Exercise for Injury Prevention

Overuse, weakness or hyper/hypomobility are common contributing factors to injury. Therefore, it makes sense that strength training, range of motion work alongside stretching and following exercise guidelines all contribute to preventing injury. Strength training has benefits for not just the muscle tissue but also the joint surfaces, ligaments, tendons and bones. In fact, strength training is highly recommended for improving bone mineral density. Muscles largely contribute to stability at most joints, meaning that not only strengthening them but also improving motor control can greatly reduce the risk of injury. Proprioception training is often not incorporated into daily exercise routines and is more so prescribed post-injury. However, awareness of body in space or lack there of commonly contributes to injury and deteriorates with injury. Training through balance exercises as well as single leg and plyometric exercises can be very useful.

Benefits of Exercise on General Health

  • Weight - the overweight and obese population is increasing exponentially. Being overweight/obese largely increases your health risk for many conditions, exercise is the key method for controlling weight.
  • Risk of heart disease - whilst weight contributes to this risk, exercise in general is also really important for maintaining heart health and good circulation.
  • Mental health - exercise is more commonly prescribed now for anxiety and depression as it has a great influence on mood and stress levels
  • Learning and thinking - exercise promotes production of proteins in the brain that are critical for learning
  • Bone and muscle health - strong bone and muscles can be achieved and maintained through exercise, which helps to maintain an overall level of function
  • Sleep - exercising may help you fall asleep quicker and stay asleep for longer
  • Lifespan is thought to be increased by a healthy lifestyle.

What can you do?

It really is as simple as going for a walk, joining a group or a class, many of which are highly accessible and free or relatively cheap. Start with little and as often as possible and increase as it becomes a normal part of your day to day life. If you are unsure how to start making your life more active, contact a health professional, or call us on 1800 992 999 to see a physiotherapist for more assistance!

For more information:

The Role of Exercise in Injury Prevention
https://www1.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/health-pubhlth-strateg-phys-act-guidelines#npa1864 https://medlineplus.gov/benefitsofexercise.html
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