The Importance of Movement
This month we’ve been reflecting on the importance of movement in our lives. Staying active is vital for our physical and mental health, but it’s important to make sure that each individual chooses the right types of physical activity to suit their strengths and interests, making movement central to a positive, happy and active lifestyle.
Health Risks of a Sedentary Lifestyle
It’s no secret that a sedentary lifestyle is unhealthy and damaging; lack of movement, especially for those who sit for eight hours or more each day, increases the risk of a whole host of problems, including back pain, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and mental health problems, to name just a few. Despite all these risks, in the UK the average person sits for over eight hours per day.
It’s important not to underestimate the risks we run by being inactive; globally, lack of physical activity is now the fourth leading risk factor for mortality. Eight hours or more of sitting each day raises the risk of heart disease cancer and diabetes by forty percent, but even as little as four hours of inactivity per day has been linked with reduced metabolism, increased levels of insulin in the body and raised blood pressure.
Health Benefits of Movement
Movement is associated with a wide range of health benefits, both physical and mental. Not only does regular physical activity lower the risk of heart disease, stroke, some cancers and type 2 diabetes, it can also have a positive impact on sleep, self-esteem and mood. Moreover, an analysis of twenty-five studies by the University of Toronto even concluded that exercise can protect against depression.
Striking the Right Balance
However, as with most things in life, the key to getting the most out of movement comes down to balance. A recent study by researchers from Yale University of data from more than one million Americans drew some important conclusions about exercise and mental health.
Whilst there was clear evidence to link moderate exercise of all types with positive mental health outcomes, very long or very frequent periods of exercise (ninety minutes or more at a time or more than twenty-three sessions per month) were in fact associated with worse mental health overall. It was suggested that this may be because such intensive exercise habits are often part of obsessive patterns of behaviour, which are associated with poor mental health.
Clearly, therefore, it is vital to strike the right balance, maximising day-to-day physical activity whilst choosing types of movement that suit you as an individual. Taking simple steps to increase day-to-day movement such as alternating sitting and standing at work, short daily walks and using the stairs instead of the lift, as well as identifying types of exercise that you enjoy and that make you feel good about yourself, will help you to increase the role of movement in your life in a positive and sustainable way.
We offer a wide range of studio and gym classes as well as individual Personal Training sessions and are always happy to discuss your individual needs and preferences.
We are here to support you to find the right kind of movement for you, to enhance your overall health and mental wellbeing.