29 June 2016
Why is physical activity important? When discussing the health benefits of physical activity, we often focus solely on the physical health benefits. The benefits of a healthy active lifestyle go beyond just the physical; they are mental, personal and social as well. All in all, physical activity is good for you in innumerable ways.
Physiological Benefits of Physical Activity
It’s almost impossible to overstate the physiological benefits of physical activity. It benefits every aspect of your body, from your bones to your muscles to your organs. Regular exercise strengthens your muscles and bones which aids relief from common aches and pains, such as lower back pain and arthritis, as well as fighting osteoporosis and muscle loss.
It also improves your balance and flexibility, making everyday activities easier and supporting your physical independence as you age. It even helps with things you might not think about, such as boosting sexual stamina and relieving menstruation cramp pains.
In combination with a balanced diet, regular physical activity is excellent for controlling your weight. Any level of exercise you do burns calories, which is essential for maintaining a healthy weight and body mass index.
Physical activity is also great for your cardiovascular system, increasing your good cholesterol levels, promoting oxygen and blood flow, and lowering blood sugar. This results in improved levels of stamina and energy, as well as reduced risk for many serious illnesses, such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and certain types of cancer.
Physical activity is also great for your mind, having been linked with prevention and treatment of depression and anxiety. When you exercise, you release hormones like endorphins, serotonin and adrenaline that distract you from negative thoughts, fight stress and improve your mood. By promoting relaxation, they can also help you sleep better.
Social Benefits of Physical Activity
Equally, there are many social benefits of physical activity. Confidence is key to a good social life; physical activity helps with that. As you become stronger and faster, your self-confidence will grow, you’ll be able to take pride in the physical things you can now do and appreciate the progress you’ve made.
Physical activity can also help your concentration skills, by providing a release valve for stress and pressure and encouraging higher levels of endorphins. If you can concentrate well on important work and social tasks, you’ll be happier overall.
Being social is most enjoyable when you feel good about yourself, have a positive self-image and high self-esteem. Exercise can help with that. By maintaining a healthy weight and an uplifted mood, you’ll feel better about yourself and can engage in social activities fully and frequently.
One of the biggest social benefits of exercise is just that – an improved social life. Especially if you participate in team sports or exercise with a group, you’ll develop greater empathy and social skills. You’ll also make new friends and gain new social outlets.
Volunteering with the Army Cadet Force is the perfect example of this. By volunteering with us, you’ll meet many other likeminded adults who share your interests in mentoring and the outdoors. As you play sports and participate in outdoor adventures like kayaking, rock climbing and mountaineering, you’ll become lasting friends.
You’ll also use your physical activity to give back – training young cadets, running outdoor programmes for disadvantaged youth and leading community service projects – which will boost your sense of social fulfilment even more.
With all the social and physiological benefits of physical activity, it only makes sense to become more active in your own life. Exercise is a crucial part of a healthy lifestyle, so get started today. Just make sure you speak to your GP before beginning any new exercise programme or significantly increasing your levels of physical activity.