What are the benefits of exercise and what’s the best type of exercise for you?
“If exercise could be purchased in a pill, it would be the single most widely prescribed and beneficial medicine in the nation”
A well-known quote, but what exactly does exercise do for you? It is hard to find a body function for which it is not beneficial. I’ve listed them all and there may be a few you had not considered:
1. Bone Density: just like muscles, bone can become stronger regardless of age. Bone responds positively to stresses applied regularly to it and will become more dense and stronger and therefore less likely to fracture
2. Breathing and Circulation: exercise strengthens your heart muscle, lowers your resting heart rate, reduces blood pressure and has been shown to help lower your bad cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein) levels, which helps to prevents build-up of plaque in your arteries
3. Immune System: exercise prompts deep breathing, which can literally flush bacteria out of the lungs and airways. It also causes changes in antibodies, our disease-fighting blood cells, resulting in them being more active and more rapidly circulated.
4. Weight Management: this has to be done in conjunction with healthy eating and a balanced diet, however regular exercise conducted to a moderate intensity (aim to get warm and slightly out of breath) will help maintain a healthy weight.
5. Mental Health: a literature review conducted in 2007 on the effects of exercise on depression demonstrated that the social interaction was the most effective aspect; it has also recently come out top of a list of factors for long life. Exercise can help boost self-esteem and helps ease muscle tension associated with anxiety. It also slows the release of stress hormones such as cortisol and increases the release of serotonin and endorphins – hormones which trigger a positive feeling in the body.
6. Sleep and Energy: both of these are given a reciprocal ‘boost’ with regular exercise and one of the few benefits that quickly and almost immediately become noticeable. Sleep deprivation is one of the leading factors in chronic illness. It can be tricky to ‘get going’ with a regular exercise programme if energy is already lacking, but if you can, you won’t look back. (See our related blog on motivation to help get you started).
7. Digestion: exercise can help relieve constipation and promotes healthy digestion, and over time, it can also strengthen your digestive tract.
8. Pain Relief: exercise can be beneficial in reducing pain for so many conditions by strengthening, stretching, mobilising, de-sensitising and releasing lots of those lovely endorphins
9. Balance: hand in hand with our first benefit, plenty of exercise strengthens our lower limb muscles and improves our proprioception (our brain’s ability to know automatically what position joints are in and correct as needed), which prevents us from falling over.
10. Exercise has some amazing benefits, but they will all be enhanced if addressed in conjunction with an optimum work/life balance and healthy diet.
So what types of exercise are there and which one is best for you?
Exercise can basically be categorised as follows:
Strengthening (static and dynamic), Flexibility, Aerobic / Endurance (high and low impact), and Balance.
|Bone Density||Anything that applies stress to the bones – strengthening plus aerobic, but remember to work on balance too.|
|Breathing and Circulation||Aerobic.|
|Mental Health||All apply if providing you with social interaction, sense of achievement and an element of relaxation (which might occur after as opposed to during).|
|Sleep and Energy||See mental health section.|
|Digestion||Anything involving movement.|
|Pain Relief||If you are seeking to use exercise to address a particular health concern, take advice from a health professional to ensure you’re choosing the right one for you.|
|Balance||Says it on the tin – balance!|
|To help the process, we’ve listed some popular sports:||Strengthening||Flexibility||Aerobic||Balance|
*when conducted with the right warm-up and cool-down routine
**when conducted at a high intensity level
Nearly all sports can be beneficial both for strengthening and flexibility. Any sport is good and can be easily supplemented by a few extra exercises to tick all the boxes, so simply choose something you enjoy!
To achieve health benefits, the NHS advises 150 minutes (e.g. 30 minutes of 5 days) of moderate aerobic activity per week OR 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity per week AND strength exercises on two or more days working major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms).
However, if you’re just ‘getting going’, even 5-10 minutes is better than none.
Moderate activity will raise your heart rate, make you breathe faster and feel warmer. One way to tell if you’re working at a moderate level is if you can still talk, but you can’t sing the words to a song. Stick to this level for the first few weeks if you are new to exercise.
Vigorous activity makes you breathe hard and fast. If you’re working at this level, you won’t be able to say more than a few words without pausing for breath.
REMEMBER: ANYTHING IS BETTER THAN NOTHING, AND ABOVE ALL ELSE, ENJOY IT!!
If you are unsure of what level of activity or type of exercise is suitable for you, then please contact our clinic and one of our Physiotherapy team will happily have a free telephone consultation with you. For those looking to return to exercise safely, we are delighted to recommend qualified personal trainers Ben Potter and Olly Freeman from VIDE Fitness.
To book your consultation or for more information please complete our contact form.
If you would like to know more about how we can help you, one of our friendly team will be happy to discuss your needs, without obligation.
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Fantastic service from day one. Fixed my leg injury. Really pleased with the care given. Thank you.
I have seen a few physios and a chiropractor over the past ten years and Liz is the only person who identified that I had a falling arch and not only recommended the right orthotics with a raise but also suggested some compromises so I could still wear a raise with holiday footwear. She also showed me some exercises specific to my problems (not just some print out of generic back exercises). Through her treatment, the exercises and orthotics I feel I have a long term solution for the first time in 25 years (since an accident) that has actually also fixed knee and foot pain and neck pain and headaches that I never realised were related. I would highly recommend her as someone who genuinely tries to help fix the problem not just temporarily relieve pain.
Couldn’t ask for a better team to help get me back on my feet! Liz is very patient and motivating! The reception team are extremely helpful and go above and beyond to help with any issues you may have. I am so glad I found Marple Physio to help me through a very difficult time in my life. Thank you all!
Top marks for everything. Prior to my knee replacement surgery, Liz has been working hard to get me in the best possible condition. Her expertise and her pleasant manner have made the sessions very rewarding. I would thoroughly recommend this practice in every way.
I was incredibly impressed with my treatment at Marple Physio. They took the time to listen to what the cause of the issue was and then looked at different treatments to resolve the issue. The treatment must have worked as I was able to complete the half marathon that I’d been training for (relatively) pain free, having only been able to run a few kilometres at most prior to my treatment. I have since recommended Marple Physio to a number of people.
In over 65 years I had never visited or needed to visit a Physio. That was until firstly I had a knee problem and the for the first time in my life a back problem. Both down to excessive golf. Well Elizabeth who treated me was wonderful. She identified the problems immediately and with the minimum number of visits cleared my problems. Lovely manner and would not hesitate to recommend.
Big thanks to Marple Physio for sorting out my sciatica. After months of suffering you diagnosed the cause, (tight muscle) and arranged treatment. Wouldn’t hesitate in recommending you!
Thoroughly satisfied with treatment. My daughter Grace had a sports problem with her foot which was extremely distressing for her. She was unable to get an urgent appointment with the lower limb specialist but was seen by the team at Marple Physio – who were fantastic. Helpful, reassuring and made some great suggestions and gave exercises which have been really beneficial. Her problem has been hard to diagnose but the help and treatment has been great and thank you for strapping Grace’s foot for a big running event. It worked and she was delighted with the strapping. I would highly recommend Marple Physio and the specific tailored treatment offered. Reception staff also very nice.
I don’t usually comment on these things but I thought I had to. The Marple team were simply wonderful. I have had lower back pain for 15 years or so and had given up hope of being pain free. Marple Physio listened very carefully to my problems. I then was put through my paces including working my feet and toes. I felt light after the first session and by week three I was nearly pain free. Magic, simply magic.
I found the service and treatment excellent. I would definitely recommend Marple Physio to others and would use them again should the need ever arise. Many Thanks.
I had a persistent calf injury and had already seen several other physios without success. I was recommended Marple Physio by a friend from Stockport Harriers. They were very accommodating when I called to book an appointment and Liz managed to diagnose and sort the calf injury in 3 sessions. I left pain free and with strict instructions to continue my stretching homework to avoid further calf issues. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them.
Marple Physio are really excellent. They helped me through a complicated hip injury – adjusting treatments and exercises regularly after listening carefully to my feedback. I’ve just completed the London Marathon and it’s all thanks to Liz and the team. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them to others.
Wonderful to find a physio who spoke to me like a person and not an idiot, clearly explained my injury and went through treatment options along with her recommendations. Would definitely recommend to anyone – especially those who like to try to understand the physiology of their problem.
Fabulous, a true assessment of what I needed and how I could achieve it, with a personally tailored plan that fitted my lifestyle and abilities.
I was referred to you from my specialist at the Alexandra Hospital. I was really pleased with my treatment and the help I was given. I have finally had treatment that works for me. Will definitely come back for help if required. Many thanks.
Unfortunately for me, I have had quite a few back problems over the past few years. Fortunately, Marple Physio is nearby and Liz and the team have done a fabulous job of unpeeling all the layers and getting to the root of the problem each time. Being treated with a combination of manipulation, acupuncture and Pilates exercises means I now have a much stronger core and I know how to keep it that way! A big thank you to you all.
I am very pleased with the fantastic treatment I received from Liz for headaches. She was very professional and friendly and I would happily recommend her to others.
Every time I came for an appointment I went away very satisfied. All the staff are very friendly and professional. I would recommend Marple Physio and they will be my first choice if I need more treatment.
After six weeks of neck and shoulder pain, it was a total relief to receive professional and expert advice with successful treatment over four sessions.
I use Marple Physio for my physio, podiatry and Pilates needs, the service has always been both professional and caring. I am greeted with a friendly welcome and I feel the treatment is continually tailored to my needs.
Elizabeth’s expert diagnosis and treatment which included massage, acupuncture and targeted Pilates exercises resolved a backache and sciatica problem I have had for several years. Many thanks to Liz and the team.
Myself and my 16 year old daughter have had to use Marple Physio several times for various injuries. The service is excellent. I have no hesitation in recommending them. The quality of care is outstanding. They are friendly team and professional and have always been able to sort out our various aches and pains. If ever I have any musculoskeletal problems, I would always go straight to Marple Physio rather than see a GP. They have a far wider and much more suitable range of care options and offer a far more thorough service than I would ever get in a 10min appointment at the GP.
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