It can reduce your risk of major illnesses, such as heart
disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer by up to 50% and lower
your risk of early death by up to 30%.
It’s free, easy to take, has an immediate effect and you don’t
need a GP to get some. Its name? Exercise.
Exercise is the miracle cure we’ve always had, but for too long we’ve
neglected to take our recommended dose. Our health is now suffering as
This is no snake oil. Whatever your age, there's strong scientific evidence
that being physically active can help you lead a healthier and even
People who do regular activity have a lower risk of many chronic
diseases, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke and some
Research shows that physical activity can also boost self-esteem, mood,
sleep quality and energy, as well as reducing your risk of stress,
depression, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Blood Glucose Control and Exercise
If you have type 2 diabetes, you’ve probably been told to exercise. But
what type of exercise is best? Researchers analyzed 14 exercise studies
involving 915 adults with type 2 diabetes. Aerobic exercise, such as
walking and bike riding, was better for blood glucose control. Combined
exercise also appeared to work best at lowering bad cholesterol and other
blood fats associated with heart disease.
There are a few ways that exercise lowers blood glucose:
Insulin sensitivity is increased, so your cells are better able to use any
available insulin to take up glucose during and after activity.
When your muscles contract during activity, it stimulates another
mechanism that is completely separate of insulin. This mechanism allows
your cells to take up glucose and use it for energy whether insulin is
available or not.
So this is how exercise can help lower your blood glucose in the short
Two Types of Exercise Best in Type 2 Diabetes
Given the overwhelming evidence, it seems obvious that we should all be
physically active. It's essential if you want to live a healthy and fulfilling life
into old age.
Research is clear that people who enjoy regular physical activity have:
~ up to a 35% lower risk of coronary heart disease and stroke
~ up to a 50% lower risk of type 2 diabetes
~ up to a 50% lower risk of colon cancer
~ up to a 20% lower risk of breast cancer
~ a 30% lower risk of early death
~ up to an 83% lower risk of osteoarthritis
~ up to a 68% lower risk of hip fracture
~ a 30% lower risk of falls, especially for older adults
~ up to a 30% lower risk of depression
~ up to a 30% lower risk of dementia
Moderate-intensity aerobic activity means you're working hard enough to
raise your heart rate and break a sweat. One way to tell if you're working
at a moderate intensity is if you can still talk but you can't sing the words
to a song.
Examples of moderate-intensity aerobic activities include:
~ walking fast
~ water aerobics
~ riding a bike on level ground or with few hills
~ playing doubles tennis
~ pushing a lawn mower
All those daily chores we do, such as shopping, cooking or housework
don't count towards your 150 minutes. This is because the effort needed
to do them isn’t hard enough to get your heart rate up.
A modern problem
People are less active nowadays, partly because technology has made
our lives easier. We drive cars or take public transport. Machines wash
our clothes. We entertain ourselves in front of a TV or computer screen.
Fewer people are doing manual work, and most of us have jobs that
involve little physical effort. Work, house chores, shopping and other
necessary activities are far less demanding than for previous generations.
Recommended physical activity levels:
~ Children under 5 should actively play 3 hours or more every day.
~ Young people, aged 5 to 18, should do 60 minutes every day
~ Adults aged between 19 over, should get active two and a half hours
each week, even more for optimum health benefits.
Sadly for our health, we move around less and burn off less energy than
people did in the past. Recent research shows that most adults spend at
least seven hours each day sitting down, including at work, on transport
or as part of their leisure time.
In fact, those aged over 65 spend 10 hours or more each day sitting or
lying down, making them the most sedentary age group of our population.
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