LUNGE: Not just for the calorie-counters, exercise also helps to improve your mental health.
LUNGE: Not just for the calorie-counters, exercise also helps to improve your mental health. Thinkstock

Let's get physical today

IT MIGHT be hard to break your date with Netflix but exercise experts promise you will not regret the decision to get off the couch and get moving.

Improved health, sleep and mood are just some of the reasons people should slip on their trainers and work up a sweat.

1. Good medicine

Exercise is just what the doctor ordered for everything from osteoarthritis and respiratory disease to type 2 diabetes.

"The most obvious one is regular physical activity and exercise is proven to prevent, manage and, in some cases, treat a variety of chronic diseases," exercise physiologist Alex Lawrence said.

"Exercise is the most versatile and effective medicine that we have."

2. Natural high

Pounding the pavement can do wonders for your mental health.

Not only can exercise serve as a distraction from negative thoughts, the feel-good chemicals it releases can make a difference to your state of mind.

"It really does help in situations where there is a clinical diagnosis of depression and anxiety," Mr Lawrence said.

3. Build bones

Weight-bearing exercise is a key ingredient for strong, healthy bones.

As we age, exercise is vital to maintain muscle and reduce bone loss and it is advised to lay a strong foundation by building maximum bone strength during youth.

"Having boys and girls exercise at a young age is important - that will have a knock-on effect later in life," Mr Lawrence said.

4. Work it

Improving your fitness can help you walk tall.

"Exercise can definitely enhance self-image, self-worth and self-efficacy - your confidence in yourself," Mr Lawrence said.

The benefits go beyond liking what you see in the dressing room mirror.

"By exposing people to exercise, you can make them feel more confident in what they can achieve."

5. Superior shut-eye

Making time for a workout during the day is the secret to a better night's sleep.

Mr Lawrence said there was a growing amount of research into the relationship between physical activity and quality of sleep.

"In clinical cases when people are struggling with sleep apnea and other disorders involving issues with their respiratory systems it can help with that," he said.

6. Fight fat

Exercise is also a weapon in the battle of the bulge.

Make fitness part of your weight loss strategy but avoid the trap of thinking a junk food diet is fine if you go for a jog.

"You can't justify eating poorly by exercising to burn it off. You have to look at the whole healthy lifestyle," Mr Lawrence said.

7. Better with age

Getting older does not have to mean getting unhealthier.

"Maintaining your activity levels can significantly reduce symptoms associated with aging deterioration and can actually reverse it," he said.

He said people who embraced a healthy lifestyle in their later years could reduce blood pressure and joint deterioration associated with age.

"You can be healthier at an older age than you were at a younger age if you weren't so focused on the healthy lifestyle."


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