June 02, 2022

Movement is Medicine

The human body is made to move, but more than 50% of adults don’t meet Australian physical activity guidelines. After two years of restricted movement from Covid lockdowns, it’s more important than ever to get our bodies moving. Whether it’s walking, pilates, boxing, yoga, swimming, weightlifting – it is crucial to keep active! After all, movement is medicine!

Unlike many medicines, which often target a single issue, movement has so many benefits. Regular physical activity is one of the easiest ways to reduce your risk for chronic disease and improve your overall quality of life. Physical activity, or exercise, can improve your health and reduce the risk of developing several diseases, like type 2 diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease.

Make physical activity a priority to:

  1. Improve your memory and brain function – across all age groups
  2. Protect against many chronic diseases
  3. Aid in weight management
  4. Lower blood pressure, cholesterol levels and improve heart health
  5. Improve your quality of sleep
  6. Lower your risk of falls
  7. Combat fatigue, including cancer-related fatigue
  8. Improve joint pain, stiffness and mobility
  9. Have stronger bones, muscles and joints and lower the risk of developing osteoporosis
  10. Increase life span

Movement not only leads to a healthier body, but also a healthier state of mind. Several studies have found that exercise helps manage depression and anxiety disorders, with people who exercise regularly experiencing fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety than those who do not exercise regularly. Trials have also shown that regular exercise, of moderate intensity, can be an effective adjunctive treatment by itself for both melancholic and non-melancholic depression.

Regular exercise may alleviate symptoms of depression by:

  • Increasing energy levels
  • Improving sleep
  • Distracting from worries and rumination
  • Providing social support and reducing loneliness
  • Increasing a sense of control and self-esteem, by allowing people to take an active role in their own wellbeing

The National Physical Activity Guidelines for Adults and Older Australians recommends:

  • A minimum of 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise on most, preferably all, days of the week; An example of ‘moderate intensity’ exercise is brisk walking where a slight increase in breathing and heart rate is noticeable
  • Exercising for at least 10 minutes at a time – the 30-minute total doesn’t need to be continuous; Short sessions of different activities can be combined to make up a total of 30 minutes or more each day
  • Being active in as many ways as possible each day – for example, using the stairs instead of a lift.

 

Here are our top tips for finding what exercise is right for you:

Choose exercise that you enjoy

One reason people find their exercise program falls by the wayside is boredom. If going for a walk gives you pleasure, turn that into a daily health and fitness opportunity. Love dancing around your kitchen? Find a local class in a new style to keep it fun. Like working out with equipment? Join your local gym. Do you like having a professional to keep you challenged, on track with your goals and motivated? Come to our group physio classes!

Choose more than one type of exercise

Your regular weekly exercise should include both aerobic exercise (walking, jogging, cycling, running etc) for cardiovascular health, plus strength-based sessions for muscular and bone health. By mixing up your movement routine, you add variety, work different groups of muscles, reduce the risk of injury and overload, as well as preventing monotony.

Choose options that fit your lifestyle and can become part of your routine

With days becoming busier, fitting exercise in can be a challenge. See if there are any elements to your day where you can ‘sneak’ some extra movement in – for example, getting off the bus or train a stop early could build a 20-minute walk into both ends of your day; or, walking around the office when you get a work call instead of sitting at your desk can massively increase your daily step count.

Increasing your level of physical activity doesn’t always mean doing formal exercise. Increasing the incidental activity in your day can itself bring health benefits. Where you can, choose stairs over lifts, or maybe park a little further from the supermarket this week.

The physical and mental benefits from increasing movement in your day are huge. Increases in daily activity can come from small changes made throughout your day, such as walking or cycling instead of using the car, or walking the children to school.

It’s a good idea to check in with a professional before embarking on an uptick in your physical load. Pre-exercise screening is used to assess your health status, fitness levels, establish goals and make sure your risk of injury is diminished. Our team of Physiotherapists are ready to help you reach your goals as quickly, and safely, as possible. Call us on (03) 9431 5955 for a pre-exercise screening and strength assessment today.





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