Regular exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. People who lead an active life are more likely to live longer and less likely to develop serious diseases such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes.
Physical activity can ease the symptoms of certain long-term health conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD).
Exercise not only improves your physical health, it also helps to reduce anxiety and lower your risk of developing other mental health conditions, such as depression.
People of all ages can benefit from doing some exercise. It’s important that regular physical activity is a part of life for children, adults and older people.
It doesn’t have to be a vigorous workout and you can find ways to fit physical activity into your daily routine. It may be as simple as walking to and from the shops instead of getting in the car. If you have never exercised or haven’t for a while, it needn’t take much effort to get started. After all, doing some physical activity is better than doing none at all. Even doing a little more exercise than usual can help reduce your risk of certain long-term health conditions.
Doing regular aerobic activity, such as walking, swimming or cycling, can help prevent a number of long-term conditions. Aerobic exercise is anything that involves moving your body’s large muscles repeatedly, such as running and swimming. Whether you’re just starting or have always been active, make sure you take steps to stay injury free and able to perform to the best of your ability. Nutrition and hydration play key roles in this. It’s important to eat the correct foods to provide the fuel you need to exercise, as well as drinking enough water to keep you hydrated.
Some of the health benefits of aerobic exercise are described below.
With two in 10 children and adolescents in the UK now classed as overweight or obese, it’s more important than ever to get children active. Physical activity in childhood has a number of benefits. It stimulates the development of the muscles, bones and joints, as well as the heart and lungs. Exercise also helps children maintain a healthy weight and gives them an opportunity to interact with other people and make friends. Activities that put stress on children’s bones, including jumping and running, can help protect against osteoporosis in later life and maintain strong, healthy bones.
Some evidence suggests that physical activity may improve how well children concentrate in school. However, the evidence is limited and more research is needed to be certain of how physical activity affects concentration in school.
Reviewed by Hemali Bedi, Bupa Health Information Team, July 2014.
For sources and links to further information, see Resources.
This information was published by Bupa's Health Information Team and is based on reputable sources of medical evidence. It has been reviewed by appropriate medical or clinical professionals. Photos are only for illustrative purposes and do not reflect every presentation of a condition. The content is intended only for general information and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional. For more details on how we produce our content and its sources, visit the about our health information page.
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