What happens when we don’t exercise?

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Exercise is a familiar term that is well known for providing many benefits in the prevention of bad health. It is a growing global phenomenon in various different forms, “from the U.S. to Australia, 70% of people say their primary form of fitness is walking. Overall the second most-popular activity is running and the third is bicycle riding.”

Exercise has the potential to hook everyone for the whole life journey, from aquanatal, school physical education lessons, ‘parkrun’, weight training, to Pensioner Pilates to name a few.

BUT what would happen if we didn’t go on the exercise journey?
What if we started but decided to take a pit stop and never refueled?
We would fall apart, literally!

Falling apart is a surprising possibility if we don’t get out and exercise as our bones can only get vitamin D3 from the sun, this is needed to transport calcium around the body to make our bones strong. Exercising can also help to prevent bone deterioration diseases such as osteoporosis.

Falling apart mentally is also a major possibility if we don’t exercise too. Our minds and well-being are compromised when we don’t get enough serotonin around our bodies. Serotonin is produced when we exercise and helps to make us feel relaxed and happy.

It has been proven that the entire exercise journey is important in decreasing depression. From when baby is growing in the womb, right up to later in life, “staying physically and socially active” can help combat depression and dementia. Exercise is recommended by the World Health Organization as a mental health management method.

A lack of exercise and serotonin can cause sleep to be compromised too.

So taking a regular exercise journey, like taking a holiday or trip, can help you feel happy and refreshed!

Would we get travel sick if we didn’t go on this journey?

It is a strong possibility that if we do not exercise we could get very sick as exercise can prevent diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. Not exercising can also affect your brain, balance and general functionality.

Not exercising could mean an earlier death!

Partaking in 30 minutes of exercise that raises your heart rate for 5 days a week could help you eliminate your travel sickness.

What if we don’t have time to find the map for this journey?

Even if you’ve lost your map, got a packed schedule or you hung up your walking boots a long time ago, you can still get back on the exercise journey with ease and comfort (extra leg room not guaranteed!)

Thankfully (for me!) there are physical activities in the disguise of day-to-day tasks and movements.

You can upgrade (for free!) these simple opportunities that you’re probably doing on everyday such as walking up and down the stairs, housework and even sitting at a desk by increasing the intensity of any activity.

The same goes for tasks such as car washing, gardening, vacuuming, dusting, walking to and from the car, making bread (the wholemeal seeded type, obviously!) These are all physical to whatever extent you choose too!

You don’t have to be a solo passenger on this journey either, you could choose your travel companion by partaking in exercise together such as walks (including around the mall) or you could meet new people by joining group exercise in it’s many forms such as aerobics, tennis or golf. There is lots of research to suggest that group exercise works better for most people as it introduces social aspects and accountability.

So if you’ve taken a long pit stop on your exercise journey and are overweight, is jumping back on the fitness wagon going to help you?
If you are obese (adult BMI of 25 or greater) exercise alone may not help you achieve a healthy weight, there is recent strong evidence to suggest that altering the diet by eating less sugar and consuming smaller portions could be more important than just being more active with exercise.

Cardiologist Dr Aseem Malhotra, co-author of a report in the British Journal of Sports Medicine last year said “An obese person does not need to do one iota of exercise to lose weight, they just need to eat less.” Dr Malhotra also describes the somewhat forgotten importance of balance between diet and exercise, “The impression given to the public suggests you can eat what you like as long as you exercise but you cannot out-run a bad diet.

Exercise is also a powerful appetite stimulant and few people will expend enough energy to lose any weight at all through exercise alone.”

The report also noted the many important benefits of exercise in preventing diseases such as heart disease, dementia and diabetes.

Do we need to go on the exercise journey?

The ultimate answer is, YES!
I find it useful to refer to the important, yet very simple, formula that my Nutrition teaching is centered around:
If Energy Input (food/drink calories eaten) = Energy Output (exercise calories expended/burnt) then Weight is maintained.

e
If either side is greater than the other then weight gain or loss will occur.

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The importance of exercise on our mental and physical health and well-being should never be ignored or seem unreachable. Any exercise intensity is better than none.

The great thing about the exercise journey is that you can pick it up right now in any form you choose, you can plan or change your route at any time. You are in the driving seat and there’s no speed limit!

Like any journey, you won’t get anywhere unless you go.

Further reading:

Have a look at the World Health Organization’s recommendations for exercise you should be doing
http://www.who.int/dietphysicalactivity/factsheet_recommendations/en/
Use this helpful exercise calorie calculator to find out the impact of your exercise journey on your health here-
http://www.wcrf-uk.org/uk/here-help/health-tools/exercise-calorie-calculator

Elizabeth Owiredu

Elizabeth Owiredu is a Nutritionist currently offering Nutrition and lifestyle coaching with her company, E&P Healthy. She is a freelance health blogger and researcher. Health researcher Elizabeth has always had a passion for food and studied to qualify as a professional chef when she left school. This sparked her interest in the scientific side of food and a lifelong love of Nutrition; she went on to study this at Bachelor and Master Levels. She has worked at the University of Leeds as a health researcher and most recently for the charity Mercy UK as a health and fitness coordinator. When she’s not coaching, writing or cooking she enjoys swimming, reading and watching movies with her husband and their pet rabbit!

Elizabeth Owiredu

About Elizabeth Owiredu

Elizabeth Owiredu is a Nutritionist currently offering Nutrition and lifestyle coaching with her company, E&P Healthy. She is a freelance health blogger and researcher. Health researcher Elizabeth has always had a passion for food and studied to qualify as a professional chef when she left school. This sparked her interest in the scientific side of food and a lifelong love of Nutrition; she went on to study this at Bachelor and Master Levels. She has worked at the University of Leeds as a health researcher and most recently for the charity Mercy UK as a health and fitness coordinator. When she’s not coaching, writing or cooking she enjoys swimming, reading and watching movies with her husband and their pet rabbit!

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