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Exercise for Life

This month we have a special article written by exercise physiologist Marc Rotunno, explaining the benefits of exercising for life! Enjoy! 


Exercise for Life


How much would you pay for medication that would decrease your risk of heart disease by 50%, strokes by 33%, diabetes by 50%, colon cancer by 40%, breast cancer by 20%, hip fractures in elderly by 50%? This medication also helps you lose weight, get fitter, stronger and the only side effect is it makes you happier. I guess this is something you would be interested in and you would have put a high price on this medication. The fact is that this medication is readily available and it doesn’t cost a thing, all you have to do is invest some of your time.

Even though the benefit of exercise is well documented and is not a well kept secret 60% of the population doesn’t meet the minimum physical activity requirements. The minimum requirements are 5 bouts of 30 min of moderate exercise per week. Two and a half hours of exercise out of 168 hours in a week is all that is needed.


l  Preventable chronic diseases are currently responsible for over 70% of the illness and injury.


l  Preventable chronic diseases cause 60% of deaths worldwide.


l  Physical inactivity & poor nutrition was estimated to cause 28% of deaths


Everybody needs to exercise no matter what your age, sex, job position, kids or no kids. We need exercise to maintain our health and fitness levels. Our bodies are like our cars and we need regular maintenance like our cars need regular services. If we don’t get our car serviced regularly it will eventually break down costing us a lot of time, money and anguish. It is the same with our body if we don’t maintain our health through doing the right things with our diet and exercise or bodies will break down and possibly die. Our bodies breaking down will cost us the same as our cars cost us but worse. Medical costs, pain and suffering, time away from work unable to complete daily tasks will have an immense affect on yourself as well as your friends and family.


Types of Exercise


Aerobic eg swimming, walking, cycling – Benefits include stronger heart & lungs, more efficient heart, improved circulation, increase happy endorphins.


Resistance eg pushups, squats, weights – Benefits include increased strength, increase size of muscles, better posture, greater support of joints, increase bone density.


Flexibility eg stretching, yoga – Benefits include Improve flexibility and range of motion, improves movement, reduce risk of injury, improve posture, improve neurological pathways.


The different types of exercise give different types of benefits for your health. One type of exercise isn’t greater than another and the best exercise routines will incorporate all types of exercise.


Weight loss – 60% of the population are overweight or obese which can lead to other diseases. Weight loss is simple in regards of exercise, the more calories you burn the more weight you will lose. The best types of exercise to perform for weight loss is a combination of aerobic and resistance training. Aerobic training will burn a lot of calories while resistance training will increase your metabolism. Performing interval aerobic training instead of continuous aerobic training will increase your caloric output and is as easy as adjusting your speed at different intervals. Performing resistance exercises on larger muscle groups and even multiple muscle groups will increase the caloric output and also reduce your amount of time you need to spend training.


Diabetes – Diabetes is the fastest growing chronic disease in the world it is predicted that 50% of the population will have diabetes during their lifetime. Diabetes is very serious disease that can cause many problems including death but is often underrated. Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness and amputees in Australia apart from direct traumas. Lifestyle changes is often the best treatment for diabetes, diet and exercise. The best type of exercise for diabetes is the same as weight loss. Burning the highest amount of calories with exercise will have the best results for diabetes.


Cardiovascular disease – Cardiovascular disease is the leading killer in the world, someone dies every 2 seconds from cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular disease often starts from simple problems like high blood pressure or high cholesterol. Heart attacks and strokes are often cause by the problems that can be controlled by lifestyle changes. Aerobic exercises are the best exercises to reduce the risks of cardiovascular disease and strengthen your heart and lungs. The higher intensity aerobic exercise the greater the benefits.


Osteoporosis – Falls and fractures in the elderly is one of the highest cost of our medical system. Every 5 min someone is admitted to a hospital due to osteoporotic fracture in Australia. Bone density declines naturally after our late 20s, after menopause women’s bone density declines at a much faster rate. 1 in 2 women over 60 and 1 in 3 men over 60 suffer from osteoporosis. A fracture to an elderly person can cause much more damage than a broken bone; a fracture can lead to hospital and with a decrease in immune function pneumonia or other illnesses could occur leading to possible death. Resistance training will increase bone density reducing the chance of a fracture. Resistance training will also improve strength and balance to help prevent falls and thus reducing risks of fractures as well.


Starting an exercise program


Starting your exercise regime and changing your lifestyle is the hardest part of a healthy lifestyle. You do not have to begin at the finish line, take it slow and make small changes to your life. It has been shown the smaller the changes to your lifestyle the longer the changes last. Some tips to improve adherence to exercise include exercising with friends, writing down what exercises you have done or plan to do, making an appointment with yourself for exercise.


The best type of exercise for yourself is the exercise you will perform consistently every day. Find the exercise that you enjoy and that you can make a part of your routine. Make your exercise fit into your lifestyle, exercise before work if you are a morning person, exercise after dropping your kids off at school if that is a constant time available for yourself. If you hate gyms, don’t exercise in a gym, if you can find the motivation to exercise at home go to the gym. Make your exercise suit yourself and your lifestyle, everyone is different.


Summing up, enjoy your exercise so you can exercise consistently and maintain your health to prevent chronic diseases. Exercise will help you improve your quality of life and stop any decline in your quality of life. As we get older our health become more important if we wish to get the most out of life. If you want to play with your kids and grandkids, if you want to travel and even postpone your retirement it is important to keep healthy and young.




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