At the risk of sounding like a Cosmopolitan column, here are 10 reasons why you need to keep regular exercise as a positive habit through the cold winter months;
1) Exercising will make you feel more energetic.
Scientists at the University of New Orleans asked 42 volunteers to assess their mood before and after a 50-minute aerobics class, most of them said they felt less tense and less tired after breaking a sweat. A 1997 study found a brisk 10-minute walk gave people more energy than eating a candy bar.
2) Just one simple workout can ease stress and anxiety.
Exercise enhances the flow of brain chemicals, such as serotonin, that are related to positive mood. At Indiana University, researchers used psychological tests to gauge anxiety levels in 15 volunteers before and after a 20-minute session on a cycle. All reported feeling significantly less anxious even up to two hours post-workout.
3) Physical activity boosts levels of high-density lipoproteins, or HDL, the so-called good cholesterol, by as much as 20 percent.
HDL helps rid the body of low-density lipoproteins, or LDL, the artery-clogging kind. Studies show that HDL can even pick up cholesterol deposited in arteries and move it to where it won’t do harm.
4) Exercise and healthy nutrition will make for a longer and happier life.
Howard Hughes Medical Institute say about a 2008 study into insulin resistance – “Our findings put a mechanism behind what your mother told you when you were growing up – eat a good diet and exercise and it will keep you healthy. Diet, exercise and lower weight keep your peripheral tissues sensitive to insulin. That reduces the amount and duration of insulin secretions needed to keep your glucose under control when you eat, which we’ve linked to longer lifespan in the mouse.” Okay, so you’re not a mouse but you can see how this applies to humans without being on a spinning wheel.
5) Exercise can spark creativity.
England’s Middlesex University tested creative thinking in 63 volunteers – once after they had done an aerobic workout and once after they’d sat around watching TV. After the workout, volunteers in the experiment felt more positive and scored higher on creativity.
6) Exercise naturally boosts your immune system.
The instant you start exercising, your heart rate increases and your blood pressure surges, sweeping disease-fighting immune cells out into the blood, where they seek out and destroy cold or flu viruses. Studies show that people who exercise have 40 to 50 percent fewer sick days than their sit-around-and-do-nothing counterparts.
7) Exercise protects against cancer.
There is insurmountable evidence to the fact, but here’s one I’ll bet you haven’t heard; Researchers gave coffee to a group of mice, and then let them run to their hearts content on a wheel. The caffeine and exercise alone increased the mice’s ability to kill off precancerous cells that could lead to skin cancer by 100 percent compared with the mice that did neither. However the mice that did both (exercise and a dose of caffeine) showed a nearly 400 percent increase in this ability.
8) Regular exercise throughout your life reduces the physical effects of the ageing process.
Research has estimated that 20-40 percent of the physiological deterioration associated with ageing is not inevitable but is due to the detraining effect of decreased exercise, often coupled with an increase in body fat.
9) Physical activity increases your ability to sleep soundly.
The truth? – We are often sick, fat, diabetic, and suffering from heart disease and cancer because we don’t sleep. In 1910 we slept 9-10 hours per night for more than 4000 hours yearly. Currently most people get 7 hours a night for an average of 2555 hours yearly. The body is punishing us for this.
Physical activity can help to make you physically tired (rather than mentally tired) and help you to have quality sleep.
10) Exercise enhances brain function.
In May this year, Dr Jim Stinear of Auckland University’s Sport & Exercise Science Department described significant research into the positive effects of physical exercise on cognitive skills. If we are not exercising, the natural level of reduction in brain neurons advances at an alarming rate. Scientists propose that mental decline in many older people is simply a lack of proper blood flow to the brain rather than ageing cells.
Enough reasons yet to get on your bike on that windless Waikato winter’s day or shall I keep going?