The Actual Truth About Exercise

It was with much enthusiasm that many of my patients came in saying they had seen the BBC programme: Horizon: The Truth About exercise ( in which most people who saw the programme gleaned that they only had to do 3 minutes of exercise, once a week and all would be well. In summary  the guy did 3 minutes of High Intensity Training a week, and it changed his INSULIN SENSITIVITY. His aerobic capacity did not change as he is a ‘non-responder’ to exercise. That is all. What the programme did not claim was that 12 minutes of exercise a month gave you all the other benefits of exercise (and I’m talking 30 minutes of medium intensity exercise a day).

These benefits include:

1) Psychological: All those endorphins rush around your body after you’ve done some decent exercise and make you FEEL GOOD!!! Like in a good mood. How cool is that?! 30 minutes a day of medium intensity exercise will give you this hit!

2) Weight Management: Exercise burns calories so assists in losing weight, and also helps you keep your weight more stable... you had a leftover Easter egg last night? Do an extra half hour of running this week and it’s like it never happened!

3) Disease prevention: Who wants to die young? Or worse: have something wrong with them and lead an unhappy painful life? Exercise can help prevent heart disease, stroke, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, depression, certain types of cancer and arthritis. You’ll also be stronger and less likely to fall over, particularly as you get older. Being strong also really helps prevent those random ‘aches and pains’ we get all over our bodies from sitting around too much. 

4) Exercise makes you pretty: Ok that’s a lie, but it certainly does improve the way that your body looks. You stand up taller when you’re stronger, your muscles have definition, you get curves in places where there should be curves and you look healthier.

5) Good sex: Yes, this is not a lie. Regular physical activity can lead to better arousal for women and for men who exercise regularly: they are less likely to have problems with erectile dysfunction than men who lie on the couch all day. FACT. So combined with the fact that you’ll be fitter if you exercise (and therefore able to last longer!!) things could just be looking up for you!

6) Exercise helps you sleep at night: And it helps you to have BETTER sleep.

7) You’ll have more energy than you know what to do with: because all of the systems in your body will be working better, in particular your lungs and heart from all that training, you’ll have more blood pumping around your body, more oxygen and therefore greater ability to get stuff done!

8) It gives you something to do other than eat, sleep, drink too much booze and watch rubbish telly. If you find something you enjoy, like tennis for instance, exercise can become part of your social life, it feeds that competitive part of you that you know is there (albeit sometimes buried deep under a pile of bacon sandwiches), and it’s also a great way to spend time with your kids.

I recently had the nasty virus that’s been going around and so was forced to avoid exercise for a few weeks, and I can’t even begin to describe how sore my back is from all the sitting I’ve been doing, as well as the lack of normal daily exercise it is used to. DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE the negative effects of being physically inactive. 3 minutes a week will not give you all of the benefits above, so get to it, and enjoy all that exercise has to offer.