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Physical activity refers to ANY movement of the joints and muscles of the body. How does this differ from exercise? Exercise refers to planned, repetitive movement that is for the purpose of maintaining and/or improving fitness.
We all know movement and physical activity is said to be beneficial, but how exactly does it benefit us? Well, the answer has quite a few parts to it. Moving our body can assist the brain’s cognitive function, our ability to learn, think, sleep as well as aid in mental well being (“Benefits of Physical Activity”, 2021).
Staying active can also reduce your health risk of developing conditions such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, a number of cancers and research is currently exploring the affect it has on our immune system! It doesn’t stop there, by participating in aerobic exercise, muscle strengthening and bone strengthening activities, you can reduce the rate at which your bones lose density as you age, build or maintain muscle mass and strength, maintain mobility of joints and the spine, as well as assist in pain management of conditions like arthritis and other rheumatic diseases (“Benefits of Physical Activity”, 2021).
For older adults, physical activity is strongly correlated to their ability to remain independent, reduce the risks of falls and reduce the consequences of such falls. By staying mobile, active and physically strong it really can improve quality of life (“Benefits of Physical Activity”, 2021).
Unfortunately, a lot of us live a lifestyle that has us spending long periods of time sitting – whether that be working or studying at a desk, travelling, as well as how we choose to spend our down time – all those minutes add up! In 2017-2018, 1 in 2 adults (55%) did not meet the physical activity guidelines (“Physical activity Overview – Australian Institute of Health and Welfare”, 2021). Additionally, 1 in 10 children (12%) aged 5-12 and 2% of young people between the ages of 13 and 17 met both the physical activity and sedentary screen-based behavioural guidelines (“Physical activity Overview – Australian Institute of Health and Welfare”, 2021). Pretty scary!
Knowing the benefits of physical activity and staying mobile, it is more than reasonable to conclude that not staying active can negatively affect your health and well being. In the short-term, individuals can experience reduced energy, poorer sleep quality, aches, niggles and stiffness throughout the body. As time goes on, this has a bigger impact globally on our health. From heart disease, obesity and high blood pressure, to reduced bone health, joint mobility and links to a decline in mental well being, research is often updating the list of conditions linked to reduced physical activity.
With this in mind, I have put together a list of ideas to easily add some movement into your day both at work and in your down time.
By incorporating movement into your day, it can have a massive, positive impact on your health and well being. The minutes spent sitting accumulate very quickly in our current lifestyle with work, travel, study etc. so by adding little bits of movement here and there throughout the day is a step in the right direction. What is stopping you from moving your body?