You don’t have to be a doctor, a dietician or a trainer to know that being physically fit contributes to your health, and in more ways than one. But many people are not aware of the precise benefits of sports, resulting in relatively low levels of physical activity, or no physical activity at all. So what is the basis of the links between fitness and health?
Physical fitness, by its very nature, significantly strengthens the body’s immune system. Therefore, it may substantially reduce the likelihood of illness and disease, and well as improve the way the body copes with illnesses when they occur. You can take this a few steps further and focus on chronic illnesses that develop inside the body over many years that cause complication, and may even lead to death.
Many studies conducted over the years have shown that physical activity reduces the likelihood of developing chronic diseases by tens of percentages, as well as the risk of an early death as a result of these diseases or their complications. Among other diseases, this includes a 50% reduction in the likelihood of ischemic heart disease among the physically active, reduction in the chances of developing diabetes in people who are at risk of diabetes by 58%, and a 40% reduction in the risk of premature death for people who are physically active at least seven hours a week.
Monitoring your weight
Statistics indicate that one out of every three Israelis is overweight, and unfortunately this trend is headed in one direction: up. The reason that people are overweight, or even obese, can be ascribed to the lifestyle of the 21st century and the consumption of unhealthy foods, but it is also due to the lack of sufficient physical activity.
There are quite a few good reasons to abandon your television, computer or mobile phone for a few hours and get some exercise. There is a close link between exercise and weight loss, mainly due to calorie burning, and this link is at its most efficient when physical activity is combined with proper, healthy nutrition. The result is a much more attractive, vigorous and impressive appearance.
Energy, sleep and the connection between them
A person who exercises regularly has more energy throughout the day, due to the energizing effects of sports on various bodily processes. This has an impact that goes far beyond the time devoted to physical activity, including extremely positive results: studies have shown a correlation between physical activity and increased work efficiency, in part because the activity leads to the release of endorphins that contribute to a sense of energy, or because exercise “clears the head “.
Other studies have pointed at another important contribution: exercising three or more times a week, even if not very strenuously, significantly improves the duration and quality of sleep.
And, of course, the mental aspect
The impact of physical fitness is not limited to a healthier body, it is well-known that it also impacts positively on our mental health. It starts with improved self-confidence and self-esteem. Weight loss and toning our body, in a world where appearance is of such cardinal importance in how we and others perceive ourselves, contribute to our personal perception of ourselves in countless ways.
Quite a few studies have found a direct link between physical activity and improved overall physical “mood”, in part due to the release of hormones called endorphins, that we connect with feelings of relaxation and enjoyment. Note that the hormones are released after about 15-20 of exercise, and reach their peak after about 45 minutes.