Exercise is well known for its health benefits - but please beware that exercise alone will not make you immune to the health risks of a sedentary lifestyle.

There are so many benefits of exercise and physical fitness on mental health and cognitive performance. We know that the changes in the brain are profound, some of these include positive changes on synaptic size and density, vascular density and nerve regeneration. See link for an in-depth article on brain changes and exercise. Exercises increases the size of hippocampus and improves memory, which otherwise deteriorates with age and a sedentary lifestyle.

The human body is evolved to move around so it’s probably no big surprise that a lack of physical activity has detrimental effects on our mind, sleep cycle and organs.

The stats are clear – every hour spent sitting is associated with an 11% increased risk of death from all causes, 18% increase risk of death from cardiovascular disease and 9% from cancer.

The Australian recommendations on physical activity are (

  • Accumulate 150 to 300 minutes (2 1⁄2 to 5 hours) of moderate intensity physical activity or 75 to 150 minutes (1 1⁄4 to 2 1⁄2 hours) of vigorous intensity physical activity, or an equivalent combination of both moderate and vigorous activities, each week. Do muscle strengthening activities on at least 2 days each week.

Also, just FYI for all those bootcampers and hot yogi’s: sweat sessions do not make you immune to the side effects of being sedentary. In fact, working out and limiting time spent sitting are the key for overall health.

The solution is move around as often as you can. Augment your activities with something called ‘nonexercise activity thermogenesis’ (NEAT). This means: low-impact movements that keep your metabolism on the go and your circulation flowing. Use NEAT to your advantage – move around while talking on the phone burns extra calories.