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It’s no secret that the world has seen obesity levels rise steadily. They are at historically unprecedented levels as sedentary lifestyles become ever more commonplace and calories- especially easy, simple carbs like refined sugar- become more readily available in excess. As life becomes easier, food intake is also rising, and we are finding ourselves both over-nourished and underworked.
It has never been more important to consciously take up a healthy, fit lifestyle, in which exercise levels are adequate and caloric intake is controlled.
This is easier said than done, of course. Otherwise, the obesity epidemic would have been solved several years ago. However, being healthy and fit is habit-forming, and once that habit is formed- myriad little habits that go together to make up a fantastic whole- you will be able to sustain the right lifestyle for you with relative ease.
Physical activity: three main benefits
Regular physical activity is important for everybody. No matter your age, gender, lifestyle, history, you need to exercise regularly. As a very brief overview, regular exercise promotes good health, lowers your risk across the board of developing a plethora of diseases, improves your circulation, helps you sleep better, heightens feelings of happiness and wellbeing whilst diminishing feelings and symptoms of stress, depression, and anxiety, helps you to maintain healthy muscle mass, bone density and joint mobility, and, importantly, helps you to lose weight.
We need to understand, as a society, the benefits of maintaining an active lifestyle- how it can keep us healthy, improve the quality of our lives, and bring about some often-neglected societal benefits. In-depth, some of the most important benefits to be had from regular exercise include:
1. Improved quality of life
Your body will be worse off for living a completely sedentary life. Though we often cannot help having to be sedentary for long periods of the day during our working lives, as we sit at computers or in meeting rooms, we can make sure our time spent away from work makes up for it. Doing so can drastically improve your quality of life and sense of personal wellbeing.
Physical inactivity has been linked with an increased risk of developing many types of cancer, alongside a multitude of chronic illnesses, as mentioned above, such as type II diabetes and osteoporosis, and increased incidents of poor mental health.
Staying active, inversely, lowers the risk of all of the above. It also allows for improved energy levels, and improved ability to do a greater variety of things, and benefits your day-to-day health-improving joint mobility, immune function, respiratory function and sleep quality, among many others. You will have stronger muscles and denser bones and will be more likely to maintain a healthy bodyweight when you live an active lifestyle.
2. Improved life expectancy
Increased life expectancy has been intimately linked with an active lifestyle: research suggests that taking part in regular exercise of any form has a correlation with your likelihood of living longer. You won’t just simply live longer, either. You will have a better quality of life for longer. So, if you want to make it to 100, but still act like you’re in your sixties, roll out your yoga matt, dig out your hiking boots, and subscribe to a gym membership.
Staying fit and healthy will allow you to take part in activities that require a fair amount of physical exertion. Hiking at the weekend, going swimming on holiday, chasing around after the kids and grandkids are all a part of everyday life- or at least they should be- and the more you look after your health and fitness, the more achievable they will be in the long term. You will be doing them well into your twilight if you keep them up throughout your life.
3. Saving money
This applies both to yourself and to society as a whole: fitter, more active people tend to cost less money. Chronic disease accounts for 70-90% of both deaths and healthcare costs in many developed economies.
Of course, some of these diseases cannot be prevented. However, as we have seen, the likelihood of developing them at an individual level lessens with a fit, healthy lifestyle. Heart disease, high blood pressure, and type II diabetes are amongst the world’s largest killers, and most cases are avoidable through sensible lifestyle choices.
As well as this, staying fit and healthy will enable you to take fewer sick days, miss fewer opportunities, and to spend a fortune on medicine as you age.
These are three broad-stroke reasons that you should seek a fit, healthy lifestyle. Of course, there are many more reasons, and we could look in far greater detail at the reasons listed above, but we hope the point stands: your life will be better if you adopt an active lifestyle and look after your health through correct lifestyle choices.