Why move more? The answer is so large and brevity is not my strong suit so I invoked a self-limiting strategy: an A-Z; 26 short(ish) reasons why you should move more. I had many ideas for most letters, but excuse the lame ones; U is always difficult. In 2019 I will be expanding on each one of these on this blog and on our social media channels, so stay tuned!
A: Autophagy (the process by which cells regenerate) speeds up when we are physically active.
B: Bone density improves with weight bearing exercise (ie when we are not in water or on a bike but fully supporting ourselves while we move).
C: Cardiovascular health (ie the health of our heart & blood vessels) improves with physical activity thereby reducing our risk of heart attacks & strokes.
D: Dementia – physical activity is good for healthy brain function.
E: Epigenetics (ie how our genes are regulated). Physical activity affects how the genes we were born impact (or don’t impact) our bodies. This affect is felt both throughout the body and in the specific part of the body that is moving.
F: Functional capacity (ie our ability to perform the tasks of daily living) improves with physical activity.
G: Goldilocks zone – we all have our sweet spot! We all need copious light-to-moderate activity but excessive vigorous-intensity activity may not be beneficial.
H: Hormesis is a process whereby small stresses train our cells to withstand greater stress. Physical activity improves the physical resilience of our body by providing it with a low-level stress.
I: Immune system – physical activity makes us better at fighting bugs!
J: Joints need to move – “use it or lose it”!
K: Ketone Bodies – flipping the metabolic switch. When our body doesn’t have enough glucose to perform its tasks it converts stored fat into ketone bodies to use as energy. Physical activity is a key trigger for this process which is known to have many benefits to our brain and body.
L: Lymphatic-system (our body’s way of getting rid of waste) does not have a pump (like the heart for our blood) instead it relies on us moving to transport waste from cells & get rid of it!
M: Myocytes (muscle cells). Physical activity can help us stay stronger as we age by slowing the decline of our muscles cells.
N: Neurogenesis. Physical activity slows the decline of brain health.
O: Obesity is recognized as a risk factor for disease and reduced life expectancy, however being sedentary may be an even bigger risk factor for health; obese people who are active have been found to have a 3.1 year increase in life expectancy compared to normal weight inactive individuals.
P: Pancreatic β cell death characterises diabetes. Physical activity is key in the management of diabetes and has protective effects on β cells.
Q: Quality of life improves with physical activity!
R: ROS (Reactive Oxygen Species): Just living life and breathing produces chemicals which can be toxic; physical activity mitigates their effect by increasing the resilience of the body.
S: Sarcopenia (the loss of muscle mass experienced as we age) is reduced by physical activity.
T: Telomeres. Physical activity can reduce the age of our cells by 9 years!
U: Unknown! We don’t know all the consequences of moving more but we do know that we evolved as a species to move an awful lot more that we do today… and it seems a very reasonable assumption that in order to thrive our bodies need to move more than we do!
V: Varicose veins – moving our legs more helps prevent this painful condition!
W: Wolff’s law states that our bones will remodel according to how we use them.
X: X-Chromosomes – two of these mean you are female! One in eight females will be diagnosed with Breast Cancer in their life … and physical activity is key to reducing occurrence & reoccurrence of this nasty disease.
Y: Y-Chromosome – if you have one of these you are male! As for Breast Cancer in women, one in eight males will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their life … and physical activity again plays a key role in reducing its occurrence and reoccurrence.
Z: Zzzzz’s – get enough! We need to sleep so we can move more!
Jeannette is a co-founder of Move More UK.
Jeannette is a PhD biologist and Nutritious Movement® certified Restorative Exercise Specialist. She loves to learn and teach and her passion is the intersection between science and movement.