The benefits of Exercise - Amelia Davis (AEP)

Search for the ‘benefits of exercise’ on the web and you will get over 633 million hits, we all know exercise is ‘good’ for us but do we know the real benefits of exercise to our health and how to achieve these benefits.

Let me hit you with some alarming statistics before we even discuss the benefits that will hopefully get you into some regular exercise without already knowing the
benefits. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the 4th leading cause
of death is ‘physical inactivity’. Approximately 3.2 million deaths occur as a result of
this physical inactivity and globally 1 in 4 adults are not active enough. Furthermore, 80% of the world adolescent population is insufficiently physically active. Are you one of these inactive people, have you fallen out of your exercise regime?

Let’s just get some terms clearly defined to help us further discuss this topic. The two main terms we will use are ‘Physical activity’ and ‘exercise’. Physical activity is any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscle that requires energy expenditure. Exercise is a subcategory of physical activity that is planned, structured, repetitive and aims to improve one or more component of physical fitness. Lastly, physical fitness is defined as the ability to carry to tasks without undue fatigue. So let’s talk about the benefits of exercise.

Let’s start at the beginning the WHO states the benefits of regular exercise are a
reduction in ‘the risk of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, colon and breast cancer,
and depression. Moreover, adequate levels of physical activity will decrease the risk
of a hip or vertebral fracture and help control weight.’ So it’s safe to say the experts
say exercise will reduce the risk of lifestyle disease and keep our bodies healthier
and living longer. It can also boost our mental health too. So, in short, being
physically active will not only help to reduce the risks if these diseases but also help
us to live a healthier longer life.

So how much exercise do we really need to reduce these risks? 150 minutes of
moderate intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity exercise per week is
the recommended amount to gain these health benefits. To achieve weight loss, 300 minutes of moderate intensity exercise should be achieved. So we know how many minutes but what is intensity and can we do any type of exercise? Simply walking at a brisk pace for 30 minutes five times a week will ensure you achieve the guidelines. A moderate intensity requires some degree of effort, you should be slightly out of breath but still able to hold a conversation but not be able to sing. When exercising at a vigorous intensity, you should or be able to sing but be able to get one word out each breath.

There is no one form of physical activity or exercise that trumps the other a good
balance between cardiovascular and resistance style activity is recommended.
Resistance style exercise will help to build and maintain muscles mass and bone
health and strength. Cardiovascular exercise will help to maintain heart and lung
health and incorporating regular stretching is important to maintain flexibility and joint health. It is important to find a style of exercise that you enjoy, you are more likely to stick to it long term. Involve your friends and family, Supportive communities help people to become and stay more active. The main message is to move more.

One other important benefit of exercise that is often overlooked is the mental health
benefits. The British Journal of Sports medicine found in 2009 that to reduce
psychological distress, at least 20 minutes of exercise per week was required.
Psychologically, exercise improves self-efficacy (confidence in one’s ability to
perform exercise and daily tasks), it also offers a distraction and a challenge which
results in a sense of accomplishment, success and independence. Lastly, exercise
offers social interaction which is an important part of improving mental health and
stress levels.

So we can see the health benefits of regular exercise, starting small and building up
to the guidelines. This will ensure your body adapts to your new routine and puts you on the right track to gaining the wonderful health benefits of regular exercise. So get out there, get active, get fit and gain the health benefits. There are many community and fitness groups here in Dubai that can help you get into exercise. Ask our experts at Emirates Integra on how to find a group or how to start exercising. We can help to tailor your exercise program to your health needs and health goals to live the
healthiest life.


World Health Organisation (February 2018), Physical Activity Fact

Hamer, A., Stamatakis, E., Steptoe, A.,(2009), Dose-response relationship between
physical activity and mental health: the Scottish Health Survey, The British Journal of Sports Medicine.

American College of Sport Medicine.
Exercise and Sport Science Australia,
Exercise and Sport Science Australia,