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Why is movement so essential for health?

Updated: Aug 29, 2020

Exercise and movement is essential for social, emotional and physical health

To enjoy optimal health we need to look after our bodies by getting adequate sleep, eating healthy, nutrient rich food as well as ensuring we are regularly physically active.

Our bodies are designed to move. When we move our bodies can function in the way they are designed, moving blood and oxygen around our bodies and allowing muscles to stretch and relax. Keeping our muscles and joints moving also ensures we will be able to keep moving well as we age.

What does it mean to be physically active?

Physical activity includes just about any movement that results in energy being expended. It can be taking part in structured and planned exercise or sport (such as going to the gym, running or swimming), as well as the ways we are active in our daily life, the incidental activities such as gardening, doing housework, walking to and around the shops and climbing stairs, or work-related activities (such as lifting).

“Exercise is the key not only to physical health but to peace of mind” Nelson Mandela.

There are many benefits of exercise

While weight loss is often the motivation for exercise, being active benefits health in many more ways than just our weight!. Exercising regularly improves our physical health, our mental and emotional health and can be a great for our social health too.

The mental and emotional benefits of exercise include:

  • reduced feelings of stress, anxiety and depression

  • improved concentration, enhanced memory and learning

  • improved confidence and self-esteem

  • improved overall mental awareness and psychological well being

The social benefits of exercise include:

  • increased family and community connectedness

  • improved community networks

  • reduced sense of isolation and loneliness

  • enhanced social skills and self-esteem.

The physical benefits of exercise include:

  • increased energy

  • achieving and maintaining a healthy weight

  • improved sleep

  • increased muscle and bone strength

  • Improved joint health

  • improved condition of the heart and lungs

  • increased muscular strength, endurance and motor fitness

  • increased aerobic fitness

  • better coordination, agility and flexibility

  • improved balance and spatial awareness

  • improved brain function

  • lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels which can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke

  • lower blood sugar levels and a reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

  • a reduced risk of developing some cancers such as colon and breast cancer

  • a reduced risk of osteoporosis and for those with osteoporosis, a reduced risk of falls

  • A reduced risk of falls and injury

  • enhanced physical function and independent living in older adults.


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