Why is exercise so important?
It's important to realise that any form of exercise is important - it doesn't just mean jogging, pumping weights in a gym, doing yoga or the latest faddy exercise class. Exercise refers to anything that gets you moving, stimulating your heart, your muscles, your bones and your brain.
It's also important to note that mental exercise is as important as physical, and the two together make for an awesome machine!
Muscles are crucial for everyone to be able to perform daily functions such as walking, talking, climbing stairs, standing up, lying down and lifting and carrying. It's muscles that allow our body to move.
As we grow our muscles develop with the help of good nutrition and exercise. When we reach our mid 30's, it's common for muscle mass to start declining as we are not as active as in our youth, teens and 20s, and why most people start to notice the 'middle age spread'. The less muscle we have and the less active we are, the slower our metabolism, and the greater a tendancy to store more of our food than we burn off.
This is why it's important not to forget how important muscles are, and while you don't need to 'pump iron' in the gym to the same degree as a body builder, a certain amount of resistance training is important for all to keep our muscles strong.
Bones are responsible for giving our body structure. They are moved by the muscles in the body as a result of muscle contraction and release in a lever type system. Muscles are attached to bones via tendons. Bones are attached to bones via ligaments, which stretch and relax to allow movement across joints.
Bones start to become more brittle as we age, and this again is mainly due to lack of activity and use, as well as a change to the hormones in our body.
Exercise helps to strengthen bones through a process known as ossification. Simple movement such as walking, stair climbing, biking is great, as is anything that requires more 'impact' on joints and mobilisation. Lifting, carrying and walking are excellent ways to remain strong and healthy. A good and varied diet is also key to ensuring healthy bones and joints.
Your heart is one of the most important organs in your body - it controls the delivery of blood, which carries oxygen and nutrients around the body. Blood is also responsible for keeping the body cold/warm and removing waste products.
The heart is basically a giant muscle and requires cardiovascular exercise to keep it strong and fit. Ensuring regular cardiovascular exercise helps to keep the arteries clear, allowing a good flow of blood throughout the body.
As little as 30 minutes of breathless activity, 5 times per week is enough to keep your heart working well - this is why a brisk walk daily is the minimum recommended activity for all people.