Staying Active

FEELING THE EFFECTS OF EXERCISE

an image for news story Feeling the effects of exercise

Regular exercise is the best solution for a healthy body, offering a whole host of short and long term benefits.

The main benefits can be split into three areas:

1. Aerobic endurance

2. Strength gains

3. Psychological benefits

Whilst helping to improve your physical shape externally and the health of your body internally, exercise can also have positive effects on your mood, energy levels, sleep quality and combating stress.

How much exercise do I need to do to be healthy?

The benefits of staying active on your life are varied and widespread, but just how much exercise do you really need to feel the benefits?

According to official NHS advice(1), all adults should be engaging in two different types of activity on a weekly basis:

  • Aerobic: cycling, walking, jogging, swimming, sports
  • Strength: lifting weights, body weight exercises, resistance band work, yoga

It’s recommended to complete 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise every week. Two sessions of strength training a week are also highly recommended where all the body’s major muscle groups are worked. Strength training is a great way to strengthen muscles and bones, regulate blood sugar levels and blood pressure and maintain a healthy weight.

Do shorter exercise sessions still have health benefits?

Studies have shown that completing less exercise than recommended isn’t a bad thing with plenty of benefits still to be gained.

If a short session sounds more achievable, making them more intense could actually reap the same benefits as a longer, moderate session. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a popular way to train your body hard when time is limited.

An additional benefit to short, sharp sessions is the buzz you often come away with, thanks to close association of exercise intensity and the release of beta-endorphins(2), a hormone produced by the brain that reduces the perception of pain whilst triggering feelings of exhilaration. Known as ‘feel-good hormones’, researchers have found that HIIT triggers a significantly greater release of endorphins when compared to moderate exercise levels(3).

Are longer exercise sessions necessary?

More time training will often bring greater benefits. You’ll become fitter and stronger, and could lessen your risk of disease. However, training for multiple hours a day is not achievable for most people. This is best left to professional athletes and sportspeople who have highly organised and regulated exercise schedules, as well as diet plans to make sure they’re performing and recovering optimally.   

Any physical exercise is better than none at all. If you can’t commit to 30 minutes five times a week then think little and often to help accumulate the benefits over time. The most important aspect of exercise is to make it regular and part of your lifestyle. It’s here where you’ll reap the most rewards.

(1) NHS: Physical activity guidelines for adults

(2) NCBI: Exercise intensity-related responses of beta-endorphin and catecholamines

(3) Medical News Today: Endorphin release differs by exercise intensity, study finds

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