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The Benefits of Exercising

Why not live a sedentary lifestyle?

Living a sedentary lifestyle is more dangerous to your health than smoking. Research conducted by Tai-Hing et al. (2004)[1] revealed that 20% of all deaths of people over the age of 34 were attributed to a lack of physical activity. They concluded that a lack of physical activity increased the risk of dying of cancer by 45% for men and 28% for women, and the risk of dying from respiratory ailments by 92% for men and 75% for women. The risk of dying from heart disease was 52% higher for men and 28% higher for women.

Why are we less active?

The telephone and internet allow us to order almost anything from our home's comfort and have it delivered to the door, and if we venture out, we will probably go by car or public transport. Technology has automated the workplace, so fewer people are doing manual work. For entertainment, we play games on computers or watch television, and we do not even need to wrestle with the pages of our newspaper or book as they can now be read on a computer. We have become less active primarily due to technological advancement, and research suggests that many adults spend more than seven hours a day sitting down.

What is the impact of this sedentary lifestyle?

Cherian (2012)[2] states that a lot of research has been conducted on the effects of a sedentary lifestyle on an individual across the globe. These research findings include obesity, increased risk of heart disease - diabetes - cancer and osteoporosis, loss of muscle tone, sleeping difficulties, headaches, and a faster ageing process.

Controlling visceral fat is important because increased levels have been associated with insulin resistance, cardiovascular disease and other metabolic syndromes. Visceral fat is located around the organs inside the belly and is deeper in the body than subcutaneous fat, which lies under the skin. Kruas et al. (2005)[3] found that participants in their research who did not exercise had an 8.6% increase in visceral fat after eight months, while those who exercised at the highest amount saw an 8.1% decrease in visceral fat.

What is the difference between physical activity and exercise?

David Bassett, Jr., PhD, a professor in the department of exercise, sport, and leisure studies at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville defines Physical activity as a movement that involves contraction of your muscles (housework, gardening, walking, climbing stairs) and exercises as a planned, purposeful physical activity performed to acquire fitness or other health benefits.

What are the benefits of regular physical activity?

NHS (2012)[4] says it is medically proven that people who do regular physical activity have:

  • up to a 35% lower risk of coronary heart disease and stroke
  • up to a 50% lower risk of type 2 diabetes
  • up to a 50% lower risk of colon cancer
  • up to a 20% lower risk of breast cancer
  • a 30% lower risk of early death
  • up to an 83% lower risk of osteoarthritis
  • up to a 68% lower risk of hip fracture
  • a 30% lower risk of falls (among older adults)
  • up to a 30% lower risk of depression
  • up to a 30% lower risk of dementia

What are the benefits of regular exercise?

Regular exercise's physical benefits are stronger bones, muscles, tendons and ligaments and enhanced components of fitness (endurance, speed, strength, balance, coordination and flexibility). The mental benefits of exercise help you deal with stress and tension, improve self-confidence, and increase your motivation.

What is the recommended amount of physical activity?

NHS (2012a)[5] recommend that adults should try to be active daily and do at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity such as cycling or fast walking every week, and muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms).

What does a basic fitness program comprise?

Visit the general fitness training program page to get an insight into a simple weekly training program that will help develop your general fitness level.


  1. TAI-HING, L. et al. (2004) Leisure time physical activity and mortality in Hong Kong: case-control study of all adult deaths in 1998, Annals of Epidemiology, 14 (6), p. 391-398
  2. CHERIAN, R. (2012) Health Effects of a Sedentary Lifestyle [WWW] Available from: [Accessed20/7/2012]
  3. KRUAS, W. et al. (2005) Inactivity, exercise, and visceral fat. STRRIDE: a randomized, controlled study of exercise intensity and amount, Journal of Applied Physiology, 99 (4) p. 1613-1618
  4. NHS (2012) Benefits of Exercise [WWW] Available from: [Accessed20/7/2012]
  5. NHS (2012a) Physical activity guidelines for adults [WWW] Available from: [Accessed20/7/2012]

Page Reference

If you quote information from this page in your work, then the reference for this page is:

  • MACKENZIE, B. (1999) The Benefits of Exercising [WWW] Available from: [Accessed