By Fitness Expert Swetha Jairam
Being physically active plays an essential role in ensuring health and well-being. There is a large body of research investigating the benefits of exercise .i.e Physical activity benefits many parts of the body – the heart, skeletal muscles, bones, blood (for example, cholesterol levels), the immune system and the nervous system – and can reduce many of the risk factors for NCDs.
• Reducing blood pressure
• Improving blood cholesterol levels
• Lowering body mass index (BMI).
Physical activity plays an important role in many diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and many cancers. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that:
• Physical inactivity is the fourth-leading risk factor for global mortality
• Physical inactivity is responsible for 6% of deaths globally – around 3.2 million deaths per year, including 2.6 million in low- and middle income countries, and 670,000 of these deaths are premature.
Because of the many benefits for health of physical activity, recent analysis has suggested that reaching the recommended minimum level of physical activity compared with no activity was found to lead to a reduction in all-cause mortality of 19 per cent – and this rises to 24 per cent if an hour a day is spent in physical activity. In addition, there is a 31 per cent lower risk for all cause mortality in active individuals. This demonstrates a positive dose-response – in other words, that the benefits of physical activity increase as the amount and intensity of the activity increases.
The improvements in physical activity are especially pronounced for high-risk individuals, for example those who are obese or have high blood pressure (hypertensive). Research has also shown that being physically active daily will reduce the chances of mortality associated with cardiovascular disease: 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise on most days of the week, equivalent to 4.2 MJ (1000 kcal) a week, was enough to reduce cardiovascular-related mortality.