Physical health benefits of exercise

I’ve been working on this for a few days as there is a ridiculous amount of literature to go through, I have to say it has been an informative and interesting few days and has really opened my eyes to the risks that we all put our bodies under day after day.

Premature death 

It seems that most research agrees that an increase in physical activity reduces the risk of premature death (death which can be avoided) and any decrease in physical activity will increase the risk of premature death. The effect appears that even small improvements in physical fitness can significantly reduce the risk! (Erikssen, 2001)

Cardiovascular disease (CVD)

So cardiovascular disease is an umbrella terms made up of all the diseases and disorders that affect the heart or blood vessels. Physical exercise is listed as a modifiable risk factor for CVD, in normal people’s words – that means that by being physically active we can prevent ourselves from being at risk of developing CVD. In fact being active was associated with a greater than 50% reduction in the risk of developing CVD! (Myers et al, 2004).

Diabetes (and weight management)

Diabetes is another disease which physical exercise can decrease the risk of development. Type 2 diabetes is associated with being overweight or obese, with lifestyle interventions these ‘at risk’ people had diagnoses than the average population (Tuomilehto, et al. 2001). Further research found that weight loss through diet and exercise also reduced the incidence of diabetes among overweight / obese people by around 40-60% over 3-4 years (Laaksonen et al. 2005).

And for those who already have diabetes there is hope yet! Dustan et al. (2005) found that the glucose management in the body can be improved through exercise interventions. Remember, it doesn’t have to be an hour of jogging a day – any exercise intervention such as climbing stairs can help!


The big ‘C’ is a very scary disease, being physically inactive has an increased risk of colon (Slattery, 2004) and breast cancer (Lynch et al, 2010). Worrying for those with desk jobs right? Well routine physical activity (including in your job) has been associated with a reduction in both of these types of cancer and surely it won’t hurt in decreasing the risk of other cancers too?


Each day we get a little bit older and diseases such as osteoporosis creep closer and closer as our bone density decreases. Unless we exercise! It appears that those who do resistance training (strength) have more bone mineral density that those who didn’t – therefore reducing the risk! (Warburton, Gledhill & Quinney, 2001).

Further research has found that the chance of an incidence of fractures is reduced among physically active elderly people (Carter, Kannus & Khan, 2001) and when assessing other age groups (children, adolescents, young, middle aged and older adults) found that weight-bearing exercise such as jogging, prevents the bone loss associated with ageing – as much as reversing 1% of bone loss per year in the spine and neck in women! (Wolff et al, 1999).

In summary

This post could go on forever, I have learnt much about weight management, how obesity can affect your physical health and risk factors for diseases and other physical health problems that can be exacerbated by physical inactivity. Lets be honest, if we aren’t looking after our body, how is it supposed to look after us? Most diseases or disorders require some stimulation to help in management.

BUT, I do want to mention about Dr’s advice – of course if they tell you to be physically inactive they have a reason! Listen to them and don’t push your body beyond it’s means.

Yesterday’s run

tracktrack 2

I knew that if I didn’t make today’s track session I wouldn’t be able to do one this week, I weighed up the benefits and cons realising that even if I didn’t run very fast it would help to begin my recovery process quickly from Tunbridge Wells Half Marathon, to let my body know that there is much more to come! So at the shock of many people I made it, the warm up was slow and I really needed a whole mile to get going.

The session itself helped, we did a pre-warm up then a proper warm up for 6 minutes plus dynamic stretches (moving stretches) and then did 400m sprints. I enjoyed the session and actually pulled off 7:25 minutes per mile! I got home happy but tired and ready for my rest day (today!)


Carter ND, Kannus P, Khan KM. Exercise in the prevention of falls in older people: a systematic literature review examining the rationale and the evidence. Sports Med 2001;31:427-38.

Dunstan DW, Daly RM, Owen N, et al. Home-based resistance training is not sufficient to maintain improved glycemic control following supervised training in older individuals with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care 2005;28:3-9.

Erikssen G. Physical fitness and changes in mortality: the survival of the fittest. Sports Med 2001;31:571-6.

Laaksonen DE, Lindstrom J, Lakka TA, et al. Physical activity in the prevention of type 2 diabetes: the finnish diabetes prevention study. Diabetes2005;54:158-65. 

Lynch, B.M., Neilson, H.K. and Friedenreich, C.M., 2010. Physical activity and breast cancer prevention. In Physical activity and cancer (pp. 13-42). Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg.

Myers J, Kaykha A, George S, et al. Fitness versus physical activity patterns in predicting mortality in men. Am J Med 2004;117:912-8.

Slattery, M.L., 2004. Physical activity and colorectal cancer. Sports Medicine34(4), pp.239-252.

Tuomilehto J, Lindstrom J, Eriksson JG, et al. Prevention of type 2 diabetes mellitus by changes in lifestyle among subjects with impaired glucose tolerance. N Engl J Med 2001;344:1343-50.

Warburton DE, Gledhill N, Quinney A. The effects of changes in musculoskeletal fitness on health. Can J Appl Physiol 2001;26:161-216.

Wolff I, van Croonenborg JJ, Kemper HC, et al. The effect of exercise training programs on bone mass: a meta-analysis of published controlled trials in pre-and postmenopausal women. Osteoporos Int 1999;9:1-12.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s