Why Is Exercise Important?


Our bodies were designed to take small bouts of exercise throughout the day. Men and women who take regular exercise reduced their risk of premature death. 1

There is 50% reduction of risk form cardiovascular problems 2

Physically inactive middle -aged women [less than 1 hour a week of exercise] had a 52% increase risk of death from all diseases. 3

So it is quite simple, and very obvious An increase in physical fitness will reduce the risk 4

of premature death, and a decrease in physical fitness will increase the risk. 5

It is interesting to note that as little as walking an hour a week starts to give protective effects, and the more exercise you do, the more health benefits you get.


What diseases does exercise protect us from?



  • Protects your cardiovascular system 6
  • Decreases your risk of type 2 diabetes 7
  • Reduces the risk of colon and breast cancer 7

The greatest benefit for reducing the incidence of breast cancer was observed among women who engaged in 7 or more hours of moderate-to-vigorous activity per week. 8

  • Weight bearing and high impact exercise helps strengthen bones against osteoporosis 9

How much exercise is enough?


Studies have shown that an average energy expenditure of about 1000 kcal (4200 kJ) per week is associated with a 20%–30% reduction in all-cause mortality 10


Why does fitness lead to improved health?


Routine exercise –


  • Reduces body fat, especially on the belly, and helps loose weight. 11
  • Enhances your lipid lipoprotein profile 12
  • Improves glucose homeostasis and insulin sensitivity 13
  • Reduces blood pressure 14
  • Reduces systemic inflammation which has been shown to be strongly associated with most of the chronic diseases whose prevention has benefited from exercise. 15
  • Improves coronary blood flow 16
  • Releases endorphins that improves a sense of well being, and reduces stress, anxiety and depression. 17
  • Increases blood flow to your brain that can cause genetic changes. Promotes the growth of new brain cells. 18
  • Helps preserve brain cells 19
  • Reduces plaque formation possibly slowing the development of

Alzheimer’s disease. 20

According to Dr Perlmutter-

It now looks as if those who engage in aerobic exercise have a wider diversity of gut bacteria. The more exercise you do, the more diverse are the organisms that live in your gut. That correlates with better health, reduced inflammation and a more balanced immune system. … very powerful reasons that people need to engage in aerobics.”

It is imperative that we build exercise into our lives every day, if we want to live a long and healthy life.

Mix up weight training for muscle strength, aerobic [walking, dancing, team sports] for cardiovascular and cancer, and flexibility [yoga, Pilates] and some meditation for your mind.

Find ways to build it into your day by walking/cycling to work, parking further away at the supermarket, taking the stairs instead of the lift etc.

Try a variety of exercises until you find some you enjoy. I hated exercise at school, was hopeless t team games, and could never climb a rope in the gym. Then I tried, and loved, archery, javelin throwing and badminton and realised there were some fun exercises for me out there. I have since done judo, tai chi, aerobics, zumba, swimming, yoga, Pilates, weight raining, pole dancing, burlesque [yes really, and in my 60s!] basket ball, snorkelling, cycling, water skiing, sailing, laughter yoga [great fun, lots of laughing, not much yoga!!] spinning, and my all time favourite-Latin dancing.

Some I tried only once [golf, a good walk ruined], but at least I tried.

It is never too late to start and you will feel so much better for it.






Myers J, Kaykha A, George S, Abella J, Zaheer N, Lear S, Yamazaki T, Froelicher V

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  • Adiposity as compared with physical activity in predicting mortality among women.

Hu FB, Willett WC, Li T, Stampfer MJ, Colditz GA, Manson JE

N Engl J Med. 2004 Dec 23; 351(26):2694-703.

44 . Erikssen G. Physical fitness and changes in mortality: the survival of the fittest. Sports Med 2001;31:571-6. [PubMed]

. Erikssen G, Liestol K, Bjornholt J, et al. Changes in physical fitness and changes in mortality. Lancet 1998;352:759-62. [PubMed


  • 5 Erikssen G. Physical fitness and changes in mortality: the survival of the fittest. Sports Med2001;31:571-6. [PubMed]

66 Various intensities of leisure time physical activity in patients with coronary artery disease: effects on cardiorespiratory fitness and progression of coronary atherosclerotic lesions.

Hambrecht R, Niebauer J, Marburger C, Grunze M, Kälberer B, Hauer K, Schlierf G, Kübler W, Schuler G

J Am Coll Cardiol. 1993 Aug; 22(2):468-77.

7 The effects of changes in musculoskeletal fitness on health.

Warburton DE, Glendhill N, Quinney A

Can J Appl Physiol. 2001 Apr; 26(2):161-216.


7 Thune I, Furberg AS. Physical activity and cancer risk: dose-response and cancer, all sites and site-specific. [discussion S609-10]. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2001; 33: S530-50.[PubMed]


8 A prospective study of recreational physical activity and breast cancer risk.

Rockhill B, Willett WC, Hunter DJ, Manson JE, Hankinson SE, Colditz GA

Arch Intern Med. 1999 Oct 25; 159(19):2290-6.

9 the effects of changes in musculoskeletal fitness on health.

Warburton DE, Glendhill N, Quinney A

Can J Appl Physiol. 2001 Apr; 26(2):161-216


10 Physical activity and all-cause mortality: what is the dose-response relation?

Lee IM, Skerrett PJ

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2001 Jun; 33(6 Suppl):S459-71; discussion S493-4.


11 Musculoskeletal fitness and health.

Warburton DE, Gledhill N, Quinney A

Can J Appl Physiol. 2001 Apr; 26(2):217-37

12 Brenes G, Dearwater S, Shapera R, et al. High density lipoprotein cholesterol concentrations in physically active and sedentary spinal cord injured patients. Arch Phys Med Rehabil 1986;67:445-50. [PubMed]

13 American College of Sports Medicine Position Stand. Exercise and physical activity for older adults.

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1998 Jun; 30(6):992-1008.


14 Blair SN, Goodyear NN, Gibbons LW, et al. Physical fitness and incidence of hypertension in healthy normotensive men and women. JAMA 1984;252:487-90.[PubMed]

  1. American College of Sports Medicine. Position stand: Physical activity, physical fitness, and hypertension. Med Sci Sports Exerc1993;25:i-x

15 Physical training reduces peripheral markers of inflammation in patients with chronic heart failure.

Adamopoulos S, Parissis J, Kroupis C, Georgiadis M, Karatzas D, Karavolias G, Koniavitou K, Coats AJ, Kremastinos DT

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16 Effect of exercise on coronary endothelial function in patients with coronary artery disease.

Hambrecht R, Wolf A, Gielen S, Linke A, Hofer J, Erbs S, Schoene N, Schuler G

N Engl J Med. 2000 Feb 17; 342(7):454-60.

17 physical activity dose-response effects on outcomes of depression and anxiety.

Dunn AL, Trivedi MH, O’Neal HA

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2001 Jun; 33(6 Suppl):S587-97; discussion 609-10.

19Nature Scientific Reports December 12, 2013: 3; 3457

20 The Journal of Neuroscience, 27 April 2005, 25(17): 4217-4221

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