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30 minutes of exercise a day helps you live longer

We all know it’s important to get off the couch and get active, but there are more tangible health benefits of exercising regularly – for just 30 minutes a day – than you think. 

1.     Exercise reduces disease risks

Studies have shown that even a moderate level of regular exercise can:

o   Improve insulin sensitivity thereby reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes

o   Increase good cholesterol (HDL) and decrease bad cholesterol (LDL)

o   Reduce the risk of atherosclerosis, the build up of plaque (fatty substances) in our arteries

o   Lower the risk of high blood pressure (hypertension)

o   Improve blood circulation, lowering the risk of stroke

o   Strengthen the immune system, lowering susceptibility to illnesses like the common cold

o   Help us “bounce back” quicker after being sick, and

o   Lower the incidence of certain types of cancers, including breast cancer. 

2.     Exercise improves heart health

Cardiovascular or heart disease is one of the single biggest causes of premature death globally. Physical inactivity and a sedentary lifestyle contribute considerably to the incidence of heart disease.

 The heart is a muscle, so the harder you work it, the stronger it gets. Exercise also increases your lung capacity. If you exercise regularly, your body will need less oxygen to perform specific tasks.

Studies have shown that physically active individuals have half the risk of heart disease-related death than those who are inactive and unfit. Regular exercise makes the heart and lungs more efficient at delivering oxygen and glucose to the muscles, and the muscles become more efficient at metabolising the glucose to produce energy.

3.     Exercise helps with weight management 

Maintaining a healthy body weight involves balancing your energy (kilojoule) intake from food with your energy (kilojoule) output through exercise.  We start losing fat when the balance is negative, i.e. we expend more energy than we consume. So the best way to tip this equation in the right direction is to reduce the “energy in” by consuming fewer kilojoules and increase “energy out” through exercise. 

4. Exercise protects your bones 

As we get older, the loss of bone mass can lead to serious health problems such as osteoporosis. Osteoporosis can turn a mild stumble on the street into a fractured or broken hip.

The skeleton becomes stronger in response to the mechanical loading 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.

5. 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.

 6. Exercise helps you sleep well

People who exercise regularly fall asleep quicker, sleep better and feel less tired during the day than those who don’t. 

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