7 Amazing Things That Happen When You Exercise 

7 Amazing Things That Happen When You Exercise
By Fitness Industry Council of Canada

By Fitness Industry Council of Canada

Friday April 7th was World Health Day, and the message of Health for All couldn’t be more important. In 1948, global leaders founded World Health Day to promote health so that everyone, everywhere could attain the highest level of health and well-being. 


This is why the Fitness Industry Council of Canada has been lobbying the government to promote physical activity more than ever, connecting exercise and health prevention, and to create policies that incentivize Canadians to get active. It is time for every leader – provincially, federally and globally – to see that physical activity is one of the most powerful solutions we have for our health.  As the WHO looks back on seven decades of health, we share 7 amazing things that happen to you when you exercise.


  1. Your mental health improves. 


Exercise is highly effective for depression, anxiety and stress. Research published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine looked at the most comprehensive review to date of 1,039 trials, involving 128,119 participants finding that physical activity is  more effective than medication for mental health and significantly reduces symptoms of depression, anxiety and distress.  But there is more to the mental health piece. When we exercise, we provide a push in our brain’s reward center – the system of the brain that helps us feel joy, pleasure, increases our motivation and maintains hope.


  1. Your risk of chronic illness lessens


The World Health Organization recommends 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous cardiovascular activity and two strength training sessions to reduce rates of chronic illness and improve mental health. Regular exercise helps lower blood sugar levels, which is a significant risk factor for diabetics.  Regular exercise improves the cardiovascular system – strengthening the heart muscle, pushing blood through the veins and pumping oxygen from the lungs to the muscles – for those at risk of heart disease or stroke. Physical activity improves brain health, reduces your risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s, and helps keep our bones strong, lowering the impact of osteoporosis. If exercise could be bottled as a pill, it would be the most effective medication on the market.


  1. Your sleep gets better


The tie between sleep and exercise  is well known, though not entirely understood: While we exercise regularly, we fatigue our muscles and our bodies, there is research that shows exercise increases the amount of slow wave sleep we get – which is the deep sleep, where the brain and the body have the chance to rejuvenate. 


According to Statistics Canada, approximately  25% of Canadians have trouble either falling asleep or staying asleep. So, what can you do if you had a bad night’s sleep?  Drum roll…. exercise! A team of researchers based in China examined data from 92,000 adults between the ages of 40 and 78. What they found was fascinating – people who exercised for their 150 minutes of moderate or vigorous physical activity every week were able to negate the health consequences associated with sleeping too much or too little The takeaway? Doing short bursts of exercise, even if you are tired, is good for your health. 


  1. You become more productive


Exercise is good for the Canadian workplace. Not only does exercise reduce cortisol levels (our stress hormones), but it also releases endorphins which make us happier. When we are stressed, we have trouble focusing and thinking clearly – exercise helps us manage our stress.  A 2022 report from Manulife found that during the pandemic, Canadians employers lost approximately 41 days per year per employee due to absenteeism (workplace absence); even more workers were experiencing presenteeism – where they showed up, but tuned out. How many meetings did you attend with your camera off, while you were scrolling through Instagram? Exercise improves our focus, and makes our employee healthier and more productive. 


  1. Your immune system will get stronger 


Health is not the absence of diseases but the ability to cope with it. One of the greatest benefits of physical activity is that it strengthens our immune system. We are better able to fight illness, to prevent pulmonary disease, and 40% of new cancer cases in Canada are related to sedentary behavior. A 2019 research review found that moderate-intensity exercise stimulates cellular immunity by increasing the circulation of immune cells in your body.


  1. You will live longer….and better.


Exercise is directly tied to longevity and a 2022 study, published in the journal Circulation, analyzed 30 years of medical records and mortality data from over 100,000 adults and found that people who followed the minimum guidelines of 150-300 minutes of moderate intensity (or 75-150 minutes of vigorous intensity) reduced their risk of early death by 21 percent – that number went up the more you exercised. What is most noteworthy is that it isn’t simply living longer – it is living well longer. 


  1. You will be more optimistic 


One of the most important reasons we should encourage Exercise for All on this World Health Day is that we become more optimistic human beings, and the world needs more positivity.  A study published in the Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology found that highly active individuals were significantly more optimistic than those who were inactive. 


Let us embrace exercise as the essential tool to impact our health. Our health is the most important thing for all.

Fitness Industry Council of Canada (FIC) is the not-for profit trade association that represents the voice of fitness facility operators across Canada. Representing more than 6,000 facilities with more than six-million members nationwide, FIC pursues a legislative agenda in the hope of bettering the fitness industry for both consumers and operators. FIC aims to work with both industry and government to improve the health and physical activity levels of Canadians.

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