Exercise as a medicine - 6 things you need to know*

Wednesday, 8 March 2017, By Emma Unwin

Benefits of Exercise outside of Weight loss - exercise as medicine.

1. Increase muscle mass

  • Decrease risk of type 2 diabetes - muscle acts as a 'sink' for glucose. The more muscle you have the better you can regulate your blood glucose levels.
  • When you exercise, you reduce your blood glucose as the muscles utilise this as an energy source
  • As you increase muscle mass, you can increase Resting Metabolic Rate.

2. Improves mental health

  • Studies have indicated that high Intensity training is more effective in treating depression, anxiety and stress compared to lower intensity.
  • Exercise is a 'physical stress' to the body and so exposing it to exercise allows it to adapt and improve its tolerance to stressful events. It may sound contradictory to further stress someone suffering from depression and anxiety, but evidence shows that if you compare a fit and unfit individual, and expose them to a stressor, the fitter individual will have better skills to adapt to this.

3. Reduces blood pressure and heart rate

  • Blood pressure is the pressure of your blood on the walls of your arteries as your heart pumps it around your body. It's a vital part of how your heart and circulation works.
  • Aerobic exercise has the benefits of reducing systolic and diastolic blood pressure
  • Heart rate and Stroke volume impact our blood pressure
    • Cardiac output = Heart Rate x Stroke volume
    • Cardiac output is the amount of blood pumped through the body in a given minute which is maintained at around 5L/minute of blood.
    • Exercise has the ability to reduce our heart rate and AND increase our stroke volume. By increasing stroke volume, it means that after each beat of the heart, there is more blood going out to the peripheral.

4. Improve fitness and impact of Activities of Daily Living

  • By improving fitness, the activities that you do daily e.g. walking to work, walking up stairs, cleaning, vacuuming or gardening will all feel easier.

5. Reduces Cholesterol

  • Increases HDL - High density lipoproteins are protective and help facilitate the transport of fat from the tissues to the liver. Major contributor to cholesterol excretion and reduction via the liver.
  • Decreases LDL - Low density lipoproteins delivers cholesterol to various body cells and can cause atherosclerosis and cardiovascular diseases if out of balance.

6. Boosts our immunity

  • Exerting a level of 'stress' on the body gives it the ability to adapt, improve and withstand any future 'stressors'
  • Post-exercise there is a large increase in White Blood Cells (WBCs) - which are our disease fighting cells. During exercise there is a large increase in blood flow and with that more WBCs
  • The brief increase in body temperature during and right after exercise can prevent bacteria from growing. It is similar to when you have a 'temperature' during a bacteria or viral infection. The temperature is the body's way to fighting off infection by make the body uninhabitable for the bacteria.



*Disclaimer: Individual results vary based on agreed goals. Click here for details.

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