WHY EXERCISE IS STILL THE BEST MEDICINE
With the Coronavirus pandemic leading us to a another lockdown, there's never been a more crucial time to stay healthy.
If you’ve been following the news, you know the drill: wash your hands thoroughly, cough or sneeze into a tissue or your elbow, clean surfaces thoroughly, self-isolate if you think you’ve been in contact with an infected person. Until a vaccine is developed, these are the recommendations for preventing the spread of Covid-19.
However, as our members will already know, continuing a regular exercise routine is also a great way to boost your immune system and prepare the body to fight illness.
If exercise was a pill, it would be regarded as a wonder drug, the best medicine you can lay your hands on. So powerful, a good, regular dose of exercise can help combat everything from musculoskeletal disease to cardiovascular problems, plus diabetes, multiple sclerosis, mental health, anxiety and depression.
So, aside from getting stronger and fitter, here are three good reasons to keep exercising – or to get started now if you aren’t already...
SUPPORT YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM
Being physically fit increases your immunological fitness too. Basically, exercise increases blood flow and mobilizes white blood cells, one of the main defences against harmful microbes.
At least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week is recommended, but anything is better than nothing.
One study found that just 30 minutes of brisk walking increased the circulation of natural killer cells, white blood cells and other immune system warriors.
REDUCE YOUR RISK OF CHRONIC ILLNESS
The American College of Sports Medicine’s “Exercise Is Medicine” project has documented the myriad health benefits of exercise, including lowering the incidence of various cancers, reducing the risk of excessive weight gain (with its associated health problems, including diabetes) and improved cardiovascular health (including lower risk of hypertension and stroke).
All of these contributed to an overall lower risk of all causes of mortality in people who exercise. Another large analysis reported in 2009 found these same benefits were experienced by people already suffering from chronic conditions.
IMPROVE YOUR MENTAL HEALTH
Stress hormones can compromise our immune system and its ability to ward off illness. Notice how you often get a cold when you're feeling stressed out?
But exercise, including yoga, is a great stress buster. Numerous studies have shown that regular physical activity is associated with better mental health, including a reduced risk of dementia, reduced feelings of anxiety and depression, improved cognitive function, improved quality of life and improved sleep. Again, the latest neuroscience shows that even moderate physical activity can have major benefits.
To say exercise is better than conventional medicine is a stretch, and no one is saying a workout will help in a genuine health emergency. But a huge 2013 comparison study of exercise and drug interventions found that being fit was as good if not better at combatting a number of chronic illnesses.
In short, exercise is really good for you, so there's never been a better time to keep it up.
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