Daily Movement Medicine…Short and Long-Term Health
Today's lifestyle, where technology reigns supreme and physical activity is often and easily neglected, the importance of daily exercise or movement cannot be overstated. Engaging in regular physical activity has long been associated with numerous health benefits, both in the short and long term. In this blog post, we will explore the transformative power of daily exercise, supported by evidence from meta-analyses and systematic reviews that delve into the vast array of health advantages it brings.
Mental Well-being & Dopamine Effects
Daily exercise has a profound impact on mental health. A comprehensive meta-analysis by Schuch et al. (2018) reviewed 49 studies and revealed that physical activity reduces the risk of depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions. Exercise stimulates the release of endorphins, or "feel-good" hormones, which lightens our mood, alleviates stress, and improves the brains capacity to perform. Furthermore, regular physical activity has been associated with enhanced self-esteem and better sleep quality.
Dopamine influences various brain functions, including motivation, learning, and mood regulation. Firstly, it can enhance motivation and drive, making it easier to continue maintaining a consistent exercise routine. Secondly, dopamine promotes neuroplasticity, which is the brain's ability to adapt and change in response to stimuli. This can lead to improved cognitive function, memory, and overall brain health. Lastly, dopamine release during exercise has been linked to reductions in symptoms of depression and anxiety, further emphasizing the impact of physical activity on mental well-being daily. The duration of dopamine release during exercise, as mentioned earlier, can extend beyond the exercise session itself, providing a longer-lasting positive effect on mood and well-being.
Longevity & Cardiovascular Health
The long-term benefits of daily exercise extend to one's life expectancy. A comprehensive meta-analysis by Li et al. (2019) analysed data from 36 studies involving over 1.4 million participants and found a strong association between physical activity and reduced mortality rates. Regular exercise was associated with a decreased risk of all-cause mortality, as well as lower rates of mortality due to cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancer. A meta-analysis conducted by Xie et al. (2019) reviewed 36 studies and found that regular physical activity significantly reduces the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases such as heart disease and stroke. Moreover, it showed that consistent exercise improves cardiovascular fitness, lowers blood pressure, and decreases levels of harmful cholesterol. These findings underscore the importance of incorporating daily exercise into our lives for a longer and healthier lifespan.
Strengthens Musculoskeletal System
Engaging in regular physical activity, especially weight-bearing exercises, supports the preservation of bone, muscles, and joint health. A systematic review by Kelley et al. (2017) analysed 13 studies and concluded that exercise significantly improves bone density, reducing the risk of osteoporosis and fractures as we age. Exercise can prevent or slow the progression and reduced likelihood of developing musculoskeletal disorders by improving muscle strength, endurance, and flexibility, resulting in better overall physical function.
Reduced Risk of Chronic Disease
Maintaining a healthy weight is crucial for overall well-being and minimizing the risk of chronic diseases. Physical activity not only burns calories but also increases metabolic rate and helps maintain muscle mass, enabling individuals to maintain a healthy body weight in the long term. Moreover, engaging in regular exercise significantly reduces the risk of developing chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, and metabolic syndrome.
The evidence is clear... daily movement or exercise holds the power to transform our lives, both in the short and long term. From improving cardiovascular health and strengthening the musculoskeletal system to enhancing mental well-being, managing weight, and even prolonging life expectancy, the benefits of regular physical activity are undeniable. It can undoubtedly be a challenging habit to form, especially on these fresh winter mornings… but starting small and without too many expectations for yourself, will allow you to gradually introduce daily movement into your routine.
How To Put Daily Movement into Action?
Start small: It doesn’t matter the intensity or time you’re out moving or exercising… it’s about initiating the habit to begin with.
Create a routine: Make it a non-negotiable part of your daily schedule, try to stick to it even on your busy days where it may not feel like a priority.
Make it social: It can be soo much easier to make it happen if you’re not doing it alone! Have a conversation with a friend who shares your fitness goals and catch up regularly. It’s easy, blissful and an excuse to catch the sunrise and sunset to reset your circadian rhythm for improved sleep and more energy during the day
Find an activity that you really enjoy: You’re much more likely to want to keep it up if you love the way it makes you feel.
Track your progress: Keep a record of your daily exercise or movement activities. Use a journal, or a calendar to track your workouts. Seeing your progress can feel quite motivating and bring a sense of accomplishment!
A few suggestions…
Grab a day pack, some lunch and choose a beautiful walking/riding trails to explore, stretching from the Byron Bay hinterland all the way to the beautiful Brisbane hinterland. Visit: https://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au
Catch up for some arvo tennis at the courts in Byron, Mullum or Bangalow!
Visit the many pool venues around the northern rivers for laps and coffee afterwards!
Join the local Byron Tri club. You don’t have to compete, but you can join in for some
social swim, cycling or run sessions throughout the week. Everyone is welcome! Visit: https://www.byrontriclub.com/sessions
Grab a friend and try one of the many beginners to advanced dance classes around Byron and the Northern rivers
Grab some roller blades or a skateboard and join in for a social community skating session and lessons with the Rolling Babes! Visit: https://www.facebook.com/groups/therollingbabes/
Winter is the perfect time to jump in the water and practice surfing. If you’re a rookie, you won’t have to tackle the peak season crowds and right about now is whale migration season, so you’re bound to meet some beauties in the surf as they make their way south to some warmer sub-tropic waters!
With a bit of consistency and perseverance, don’t be surprised if you cannot go a day without moving your body as you begin experiencing the benefits of movement!
Bolam, K.A., van Uffelen, J.G., & Taaffe, D.R. (2013). The effect of physical exercise on bone density in middle-aged and older men: A systematic review. Osteoporosis International, 24(11), 2749-2762.
Kramer, A.F., Erickson, K.I., & Colcombe, S.J. (2022). Exercise, cognition, and the aging brain. Journal of Applied Physiology, 124(2), 464-472.
Schmitz, K.H., Campbell, A.M., Stuiver, M.M., Pinto, B.M., Schwartz, A.L., & Morris, G.S. (2018). Exercise is medicine in oncology: Engaging clinicians to help patients move through cancer. CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, 68(6), 358-374.
Schuch, F.B., Vancampfort, D., Rosenbaum, S., Richards, J., Ward, P.B., & Stubbs, B. (2017). Exercise improves physical and psychological quality of life in people with depression: A meta-analysis including the evaluation of control group response. Psychiatry Research, 241, 47-54.
Smith, S.C., Collins, A., Ferrari, R. et al. (2015). Our time: a call to save preventable death from cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke). Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 66(14), 1418-1436.
Swift, D.L., Johannsen, N.M., Lavie, C.J., Earnest, C.P., & Church, T.S. (2019). The role of exercise and physical activity in weight loss and maintenance. Progress in Cardiovascular
Diseases, 61(2), 206-213.
Zheng, C., Li, G., Xu, C., & Xu, Y. (2018). The effect of exercise on the cardiovascular health of sedentary women: A meta-analysis. Frontiers in Public Health, 6, 209.