Why Should I Be Physically Active?

March 27, 2023

What does it mean to be physically active? By definition, it’s defined as any voluntary bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that requires energy expenditure. This could be walking, hiking, gardening, working out, dancing – anything to get your body moving with purpose! Moving your body is so important for maintaining a healthy lifestyle, not only physically but mentally too!

Physical activity not only will strengthen your bones and muscles but also improves your cognitive health as well. Physical activity can directly impact the body by stimulating physiological changes such as reductions in insulin resistance and inflammation as well as encouraging production of growth factors – chemicals that affect the health of new brain cells and development of new blood vessels in the brain. It can also help to improve mood and sleep by reducing both stress and anxiety, which are heavily contributed to cognitive impairment. When performing any sort of physical activity, studies show that exercise can enhance cognitive function, primarily with any executive function such as planning, working memory, attention, problem solving and verbal reasoning.

Physical activity not only provides brain health and strong bodies, but is also critical for reducing the risk of disease such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity, stroke and so many more. Physical activity can strengthen your heart and improve circulation which the improved blood flow raises the oxygen levels in your body. Oxygen is a critical component for creating energy for your body. Oxygen is needed to break down glucose and convert to ATP – the molecule that is our primary source of energy to keep your body going at all times. Your body also needs oxygen to keep your blood adequately saturated so that your cells and tissues can function and heal properly.

Performing regular physical activity also is great for managing a healthy weight. Carrying around excess weight can lead to many problems within your bones and joints such as arthritis, tendonitis or bursitis. With this being said, it creates premature wear and tear on your joints which can cause pain, stiffness or swelling within the joint. Research has shown that obese people have more fat cells, called adipocytes, that release inflammation-producing compounds that break down joint tissue leading to irreversible damage. Aside from creating premature damage to your joints, it can also create excess stress on the connecting tissues around your joints creating inflammation of the tendons, called tendonitis. Your joints also have fluid-filled sacks near the joint, called a bursa, that can also become irritated causing pain, swelling and redness, called bursitis.

Ultimately, you can incorporate short bouts of physical activity throughout your day. Optimally, you should aim for 150 minutes per week. You may be thinking that sounds like a lot but that’s only 20 minutes per day. This activity could be as simple as going for a walk, going for a bike ride, cleaning around your house, performing outdoor chores such as gardening or other lawn care, whatever you want it to be. We always say, “Motion is lotion” or you may also hear us say, “Movement is Medicine” and it’s very true! You also don’t have to perform all 20 minutes at once, break it up into smaller portions – 5 minutes 4 times per day, or 10 minutes 2 times per day – to allow it to work with your routine. Make it more motivating by asking a friend, spouse/significant other, sibling or coworker to join you to become healthy together!27