What are the real benefits of being active?

Hello Diana, we are constantly reminded and made to feel guilty if we don’t move around enough.  What are the real benefits of being active? Does it really make a big difference to our health?   Belinda Simpson…  Herts

Hello Belinda, evidence points to activity making all the difference, It can reduce the chance of death by 40%, and activity in later life boosts the likelihood of ‘healthy ageing’ with physical activity programmes reducing major disability in elderly people. Studies show that it halves the risk of dying from coronary heart disease, reduces the overall risk of cancer and the risk of colon cancer by up to half [40-50%].

Being active is highly effective in preventing the incidence of falls among people in later life, and if the activity is weight bearing, (for example walking) it delays the progression of osteoporosis. It can help prevent osteoarthritis and reduce pain, stiffness and disability for sufferers.  Being active releases endorphins, which help improve our emotional and mental well-being which is effective in reducing clinical and non-clinical depression which can be as effective as antidepressants. It can increase self esteem.  Physical activity has direct beneficial effects on the brain as well as keeping the blood vessels to the brain healthier. The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, calls exercise ‘the miracle cure’. Being fit will save billions to the NHS and can, according to NICE ‘delay or prevent the onset of disability, dementia and frailty’.