It’s funny how people are always looking for a miracle remedy to “cure” something or everything. Funny because most illnesses unfortunately aren’t cured but controlled and also because there is one super control factor that is conveniently overlooked most times because of laziness! This article therefore is meant to be a little bit of a guilt trip! Exercise is important for several reasons, the least of which has anything to do with outward beauty!
So you know about Diabetes, Hypertension (High Blood Pressure), High Cholesterol and Obesity. Did you know that a general term to encompass all of these diseases is “Lifestyle diseases”. These diseases lead to heart disease and stroke which of course leads to significant morbidity and mortality. They’re called lifestyle diseases because your lifestyle causes them (contributes a big part to it anyway along with genetic factors) but more importantly, changing your lifestyle can “cure” or control them! We’ll get a general overview of how exercise helps today and then in the coming weeks explore each lifestyle disease in relation to exercise in more detail.
Important things to remember:
- There is an amount of exercise that is recommended for your age.
Many people say “But I do exercise!” Not recognising that it matters how long you exercise for; how many minutes, how many days.
- The type of exercise also matters!
What many of us consider as having exercised does not actually count! A casual stroll for most age groups is not enough. You need to be sweaty and breathing hard! If you find that you can gossip freely while exercising then you’re not doing enough!
- There is a way to get around many limitations.
We love making excuses. Whether it’s an injury or fatigue or anything really we can find an excuse not to exercise. This is really to our own detriment. There are many ways to get in your required amount of exercise despite perceived limitations.
- Decrease sedentary time
Interestingly, you could be cheating yourself of all the benefits that all the exercise you’ve been doing has produced, by being sedentary during your non-exercising time! So not only do we have to exercise but also be active during the time we aren’t exercising!
The following statistics are taken from the NHS (United Kingdom National Health Service), and here is the link to additional guidelines that you can get from them. I’ll take the time so explain some of the statistics so that you have a clear understanding.
- Regular exercise lowers your blood pressure.
Exercise helps you lose weight which lowers your blood pressure, most people know this. However, irrespective of weight loss, regular exercise lowers your blood pressure! This is because it promotes a healthy heart and healthy blood vessels. So perhaps instead of targeting pounds of weight loss you could target how many units of blood pressure you’ve lost!
- Regular exercise can give you up to a 35% lower risk of coronary heart disease and stroke.
The end point of lifestyle diseases is heart disease like heart attacks and chronic heart failure and stroke among other things. Regular exercise can decrease this risk by 35%!
- Regular exercise can give you up to a 50% lower risk of Type 2 Diabetes.
Type 2 Diabetes is well known for its range of complications all over the body from the eyes to heart, to kidneys to feet. It would do one well to lower their risk of Type 2 diabetes through something as simple as exercise!
This is the first of our Exercise: The Cure, Lifestyle Disease series. The rest of this series will explore each of the lifestyle diseases and how exercise can help in more detail. We’ll also do an entire article dedicated to what is the right amount and type of exercise for your age!
There are also so many more benefits or exercise that we’ll probably just create a new series for those after we finish with the lifestyle diseases!
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