Regular physical activity plays a vital role in preventing chronic disease and maintaining good health in general. Physically active people have a better quality of life, both physically and emotionally.
It is estimated that nearly 70% of people living in Western countries do less than 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per day. This is a very regrettable situation because this sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of being affected by several serious health disorders, in particular cardiovascular diseases, certain types of cancer, such as colon and breast cancer, diabetes type 2 as well as other degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease.
Physical inactivity opens the door to inflammation and chronic disease
This close link between lack of exercise and the development of chronic diseases is due, among other things, to the powerful anti-inflammatory action of regular physical activity. When we are inactive, there is a climate of chronic inflammation inside
of our body, which leads to an overproduction of inflammatory molecules that disrupt the normal function of several organs. For example, inflammatory molecules released close to the wall of blood vessels promote the development of atherosclerotic lesions, whereas in the brain these inflammatory conditions can alter the functioning of neurons and accelerate the onset of neurodegenerative diseases.
Physical activity: an anti-inflammatory at your fingertips
Doing regular physical activity is therefore not only a means of staying in good shape and maintaining the integrity of the muscle mass; it is in fact a real anti-inflammatory shock therapy with extremely positive consequences for the whole body.
A study carried out by American researchers shows that we should also not underestimate the capital impact of physical exercise on our mental and psychological balance as well as on the quality of life in general. In this study, researchers examined the impact of different levels of physical activity on the quality of life of a sedentary population. 464 people with an average age of 57 were separated into 4 distinct groups, namely a control group (no physical activity), and groups subjected to exercises provoking energy expenditure corresponding to 50%, 100% and 150 % of recommended level of physical activity (8 kilocalories per kg per week, or approximately the equivalent of 20 minutes of walking per day).
A better emotional state
The impact of the program on the participants’ quality of life, both physically and mentally, was evaluated after 6 months by measuring several well-established parameters. The researchers observed that people who had been subjected to the most intense levels of exercise (100 and 150% of the recommended level) saw several significantly improved physical and mental parameters compared to sedentary people, including a significant improvement in the physical ability to perform daily tasks as well as a significant decrease in emotional problems.
Exercise to prevent chronic diseases
These benefits associated with exercise are not due to weight loss incurred during the program, indicating that being physically active has multiple positive impacts on quality of life, independent of its impact on body weight. Exercise should therefore be seen not only as a means of maintaining muscle function and delaying the onset of chronic disease, but also as an essential facet of our overall quality of life.
Martin et al. Exercise dose and quality of life. A randomized controlled trial. Arch Intern. Med. 169: 269-278.