Last weekend I have been supporting the Indian Society of Lifestyle Medicine (ISLM) spread the importance of movement. I walked 15km during the weekend and as spring is lifting our spirits, I feel it could not have been a better time.
We all know that movement and exercise is important however I think it is interesting how many aspects of wellbeing this one pillar of lifestyle medicine can support. I was also reading an article recently which highlighted how the pandemic has had a huge impact on low levels of physical activity of children and adolescents.
For me personally movement has been a challenge mainly as I struggle to find time on my working days. But I love to walk and last few years I found yoga, Pilates and tai chi an extremely invigorating as part of my daily routine.
It is best to include movement throughout the day. This can be a challenge for people like me who have a sedentary job. Including small stretches, walks or time away from the screens can be impactful in not just improving posture but on our ability to focus better on whatever task we are trying to achieve.
Other benefits of regular movement include
- Mental wellbeing
- Reduced cardiovascular and metabolic health
- Improved blood sugar control by reducing insulin resistant
- Better weight control by burning calories as well as improving satiety
- Reduced risk of cancers (specifically breast, colorectal and prostate)
- Improved gut health
- Supports the bones and muscle mass –very important after the age of 40
- Increases self esteem
- Improves tiredness levels by better regulation of the stress hormones
- Does wonders for the sleep! (my favourite reason to move!)
During my 17 years of being a GP I have noticed that it can be very challenging to exercise for the elderly or people recovering from cancer. Fatigue can be difficult to fight at this time. Research shows that as little as 15-20 minutes a day of movement, of any kind, can have huge benefits. There is growing evidence that the chances of recurrence of cancer is reduced by more than 40% by regular exercise. This has been put down to improved insulin resistance, better circulation, improved stress hormone levels as well as reduction of inflammation in the body.
Finally, as with everything, variety is helpful even when we talk about movement. Finding some form of exercise which you like is key, to sustain it in the long term. It is important though to make sure you incorporate a combination of stretching, aerobic as well as resistance exercise. I personally don’t think a gym is needed as there is so much that can be done at home, around nature and with good company!
So as the weather is improving, maybe have a look at your weekly schedule and see where you can add just a little bit more movement.