Those who are completely idle are more likely to develop obesity, heart disease, high cholesterol levels, osteoporosis, diabetes and clinical depression than those who exercise regularly, but it doesn’t have to be an enormous amount of exercise. Just climbing stairs or jogging for ten minutes a day is sufficient to significantly reduce the risk of all the medical conditions just listed. Those who exercise and control their weight after a heart attack do much better, and survive far longer than those who remain sedentary.
Moderate exercise can make a significant difference to a person’s moods. Individuals feel more energetic and able to look after themselves. There’s also the added benefit of looking fit and toned, which is a confidence booster, and physical exercise can distract from worrying thoughts.
Exercise may be the last thing someone feels like doing when they are tired, depressed or anxious. They may feel you haven’t the energy to get out of the armchair, never mind swim ten lengths. However, exercise can makes one feel relaxed, stretched and energised. It has beneficial effects on the heart, helps to reduce anxiety and depression, lose weight and feel fitter.
Vigorous activity stimulates the body into releasing endorphins, the body’s natural antidepressants. Aerobic exercises (which raise the pulse rate) have received most praise as a stress antidote. A minimum of ten minutes a day spent walking, swimming, playing tennis, cycling, or taking exercise classes is all that is needed. For maximum benefit to the general health, slowly increase the daily dose to 20 or 30 minutes.
Exercise doesn’t have to be gruelling to be beneficial. Build up slowly and don’t be overambitious to begin with. Choose something enjoyable, or it won’t be continued. Taking exercise classes can bring a bonus – it’s a good way of meeting people as well as keeping fit.
The body and mind need time to relax and recuperate from the effects of everyday activity and stress. Everyone has his or her favourite method. Taking time to soak in a warm bath, listening to music, walking in the park, spending time with a favourite hobby or pastime can all help the wind down process and recovery from the day.