We’re not talking about having an existential awakening here (save that for another time), but instead questioning things what we often take for granted, like that we should exercise.
“Wait, so you’re telling me a personal training company is about to post an article asking, do we even really need to exercise?” Well, the answer is yes! Spoiler alert: it shouldn’t be a surprise, because the benefits are so overwhelmingly positive, and if you’d like to work with a trainer on how to make the most of your exercise, we can book you for a complimentary workout!
The Canadian Medical Association Journal published at meta-analysis seeking to find out what all the benefits of exercise truly are (1). To highlight the benefits, they found that routine physical activity has been shown to improve:
- Body composition (muscle development, fat reduction, weight control)
- Enhance lipid-lipoprotein profiles (cholesterol and triglycerides)
- Improve glucose homeostasis and insulin sensitivity (regulating how the body responds to food)
- Reduce blood pressure
- Improve autonomic tone (non-conscious balance of relaxation vs. stress)
- Reduce systemic and chronic inflammation
- Decrease blood coagulation (blood clotting)
- Improve coronary blood flow (blood entering the heart)
- Augment cardiac function
- Enhance endothelial function (lining of blood vessels)
- Improved psychological well being (reduced stress, anxiety, and depression)
- Improvement in sex-hormone levels
Among the most powerful findings is the impact on “all-cause mortality,” or the risk of death by any cause. One study looked at over 2000 men aged 40-60 over 22 years, measuring their fitness levels and 13-year all-cause mortality.
As shown in the chart below, the risk of death was least for the group that was most fit throughout (brown bar to the right), but most inspiring is the dramatic reduction in all-cause mortality for those who were not particularly fit at the beginning of the study, but became more fit over the years (brown bar to the left)! In the interpretation, they report that “even small improvements in physical fitness are associated with a significantly lowered risk of death” (2).
These effects hold for women as well, as, “physically inactive middle-aged women (engaging in less than 1 hour of exercise per week) experienced a 52% increase in all-cause mortality, a doubling of cardiovascular-related mortality and a 29% increase in cancer-related mortality compared with physically active women” (1).
Across the board, exercise also reduces the risk of:
- All-cause mortality (20% – 35% lower risk of death by any cause)
- Cardiovascular Disease
- Type 2 Diabetes (1.7 fold increased risk among those inactive)
While aerobic exercise gets a lot of focus for health improvements, strength training is important as well. The analysis reports that developing musculoskeletal fitness is associated with improving:
- Functional independence
- Glucose homeostasis
- Bone health
- Psychological well-being
- Overall quality of life
Functional independence is especially worth focusing on, as most people want to stay independent for as long as possible as the years roll on. There are a natural rise and fall of musculoskeletal fitness over time, and while exercise will improve the function and limit decline, not exercising will also expedite the fall. See the chart below for the visual representation of this (1).
We can all agree, exercise is extremely beneficial, so how do you start? You may be conditioned to think you need to sign up for a gym membership, but that isn’t true. You have everything you need, right at home!
Not only that but exercise at home can save you valuable time and money. We’ve written about these at length in other articles, and if you’d like a complete guide to exercising at home, you can fill out the form below to download our eBook: The Ultimate Guide to Home Workouts! While information is excellent and can help a lot, taking action is the most crucial step, so if you’d like to get moving right away with a complimentary workout, click the button above, and we’ll book your session for you!
- Warburton, Darren E.R., Crystal Whitney Nicol, and Shannon S.D. Bredin. “Health Benefits of Physical Activity: The Evidence.” CMAJ : Canadian Medical Association Journal 174.6 (2006): 801–809. PMC. Web. 19 June 2018.
- Erikssen, G, et al. “Changes in Physical Fitness and Changes in Mortality.” Lancet. 1998 Sep 5;352(9130):759-62. PMC. Web. 12 September 2018