Exercise and health

Do you exercise regularly? Every new year, we see people joining gyms/exercise programs and starting a new diet after the Christmas period with everyone wanting to detox and shed the extra pounds for the new year. Sure enough by February this craze seems to decline and even more so by March, when the extreme goals we’ve set ourselves haven’t been met. Everyone wants that perfect body with chizzled abs and a thigh gap , but have you ever thought of the other many health benefits of exercise? Chrissy Hawkins (@chrissyhfitness) is an ITEC RQF Level 3 (EQF Level 4) personal trainer based in North County Dublin. She has been working in the industry for several years and has experience training all types of clients. She also just happens to be my sister! Here she discusses the many benefits of exercise to our health, independent of weight loss and aesthetics.

We’ve all heard how important exercise is for your health. It’s on the telly, in the papers, on social media, on the radio (for those of you who still use one) especially this time of year, everyone joins the gym in January with visions of ‘new year, new me’ and around now every year is when people start to come to the conclusion that the old them wasn’t so bad, sound familiar?

Now I know we all want to be “skinny” “toned” or have a “beach bod” for our holidays but what about the rest of the year. There is so many more benefits to keeping fit that you may not realise or had stopped paying attention to in the programme/ post you were looking at. So here’s a few that might keep you from cancelling that membership just yet.

  1. Improved cardiovascular function: You may have heard this before but what does it mean? Basically that your heart and lungs work more efficiently and in the long term this means less risk of heart disease, and all types of diseases associated with the heart and lungs, and in the short term you won’t be out of breath after a flight of stairs!
  2. Reduction of body fat/ increased muscle: This isn’t just to look for the holliers (though it is an added bonus) It will also help reduce those risks again for cardiac (heart) related diseases and also increase your BMR (basal metabolic rate) This put basically is the amount of energy your body needs at rest (for breathing, sleeping, bodily functions) before you factor in activities like walking, eating, speaking. The more muscle you have the more energy it needs, so by having more muscle, you burn more energy at rest!
  3. Bone mineral Density: At the age of 30, peak bone mass has been reached and begins to decline. This is a big one for the ladies especially. As women get older, particularly after menopause, oestrogen levels decline rapidly. This causes reduced bone density (sometimes by up to half!) which can lead to osteoporosis (brittle, weakened bones). The good news is that exercise, particularly resistance based exercise and weight training helps to vastly reduce the risk of osteoporosis by increasing your bone mineral density.
  4. Feel good factor! This is often overlooked but most important, who has ever come out of a workout of any type the were dreading and felt amazing? That’s because exercise releases serotonin into the brain making you feel happier then when you started, I mean who doesn’t want to feel happy?

For those of you reading this and thinking “that’s great but I hate the gym” Fear not! You DON’T have to go to the gym to exercise (yup a PT not promoting the gym there must be something wrong) There is no point forcing yourself into something you hate, if you don’t enjoy it you will simply give up. Any excuse and you’ll stop, simple as. Find something you enjoy and you’ll keep it up. Join a dance fit class, try yoga or pilates, join a sports team. It can be social too and if it keeps you fit in the meantime, it’s a win win situation!

If you found this article interesting or helpful, be sure to share with friends and family. If you’d like to hear more from Chrissy, you can find her on Instagram @chrissyhfitness for more information and tips on your training!

Sarah x

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