The beneficial effects of physical activity on wellbeing and health have been known for some time now. However, only recently was it demonstrated that regular physical exercise is a factor which helps protect us against many diseases common today in modern societies: tumours, diabetes, hypertension, obesity, osteoporosis, and cardiovascular illnesses. The lack of physical activity, along with excess caloric intake and smoking, is one the main characteristics of an unhealthy lifestyle. According to the World Health Organisation, a sedentary lifestyle is linked to nearly a fifth of chronic diseases.
More than anything else, regular exercise influences the body’s composition, reduces body fat (especially that in the abdomen, which is less favourable from a metabolic point of view), helps control body weight, and promotes normal amounts of lipids, thus reducing the plasma levels of triglycerides and increasing the level of HDL, the “good” cholesterol. In addition, physical activity positively influences the body’s ability to metabolise glucose, and reduces blood pressure and the levels of certain inflammatory molecules.
Exercising regularly is also beneficial to mental health and often can improve our mood, helping control anxiety and risk for depression.