Science

The benefits of sport on physical and mental health

Regardless of age and gender, the benefits of physical activity on people’s health are now well documented and scientifically proven. The practice of physical activity, even of moderate intensity, greatly reduces mortality and improves quality of life. Regular movement not only facilitates the prevention and management of non-communicable diseases (cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancer, etc.), but it is also very beneficial on a mental level, reducing the symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Physical inactivity has become one of the main risk factors for health problems. According to estimates by the World Health Organization, it is responsible for 5% of the burden of coronary heart disease, 7% of type 2 diabetes, 9% of breast cancer and 10% of colon cancer. If the world population were more active, it would be possible to prevent up to five million deaths per year!

For adults, it is recommended to practice 30 minutes of physical activity developing cardiorespiratory capacity of moderate to high intensity, at least 5 days a week, avoiding spending 2 consecutive days without practicing. At the same time, it is essential to reduce the total time spent sitting (in front of a computer or a television, for example). But according to the Ministry of Health, less than half (42.5%) of French people aged 15 to 75 achieve a level of physical activity favorable to their health.

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Improve your heart health and strengthen your muscles to age better

The WHO defines physical activity as “any body movement produced by skeletal muscles that requires the expenditure of energy.” Thus, any physical activity of moderate to high intensity has beneficial effects on health, even if it is not a sport as such. A walk to school or work, yard work, an intensive cleaning session can also make you sweat.

Specifically, what are the effects of physical activity on the body? The most obvious is that the energy expenditure associated with activity can help you lose body fat and maintain ideal body weight. Most importantly, physical activity helps build muscle tissue and bone health, which in turn reduces the risk of falls and fractures (which inevitably increases with age).

Daily physical activity reduces symptoms of depression and helps prevent cardiovascular disease. © SportSoGood.fr

Moving more, at moderate to sustained intensity, also improves cardiorespiratory fitness. In fact, the heart is a muscle and it gets stronger with training; Regular physical activity lowers blood pressure, relaxes blood vessels, and lowers bad cholesterol and blood sugar levels. As a result, the risk of heart attack and stroke is reduced.

Even better: physical activity, like other lifestyle-enhancing measures, can counteract a possible genetic predisposition to coronary heart disease. A study published in 2016 in The New England Journal of Medicine reported that no smoking, a normal weight, regular physical activity, and a healthy diet are associated (together and separately) with a significant reduction in the risk of accidents. Coronary heart disease (with an overall reduction of 46%), regardless of the level of genetic risk that patients have.

A particularly noticeable endorphin rush

Haven’t you put on your shoes yet? Do you lack equipment? On the Internet or in stores, you will surely find the good sports plans that suit you best, whether in terms of clothing suitable for outdoor practice or connected accessories to monitor your performance. Sometimes a new purchase is enough to motivate the most recalcitrant … Because, once the good intentions of the new school year (or January) have been forgotten, some still have a hard time (re) starting.

A workout can be perceived as a moment of painful exertion (especially if it involves going for a run in the rain at 5 ° C, when it would be much better under a blanket in front of the TV). But what many people minimize or overlook is the impact of sport on the mind. It is very simple, after having made an effort, you reach a feeling of intense fullness. And for good reason: during and after the session, the brain releases endorphins. Like opiates, especially morphine, these substances have analgesic power and provide a sense of well-being and euphoria, so much so that some people become addicted to sports to experience this.

Endorphins not only transport you in a cloud of well-being, but also reduce the sensation of pain and fatigue and have an anti-stress effect. In addition to raising morale, playing a sport improves self-esteem; Therefore, the adoption of a regular physical activity is especially recommended for people suffering from depression.

Of course, common sense is in order: beneficial health effects will be proven only if the practice is suited to your age and abilities (excessive exercise can weaken tendons and joints!). It is also important to remember to hydrate enough and warm up well beforehand to avoid any injury. In any case, before starting a physical activity, it is better to consult with your doctor.

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