How to get away with NOT exercising

Updated: Jan 19

If you could get the health benefits of exercising, but without actually exercising, would you?

This week’s immune health tip shows you exactly how.

Last week, you’ve seen why exercising does wonders for your body, including our immune system.

Exercising is beneficial for both young and old, but, surprisingly, it’s not necessary.

The question then becomes, how can you get the benefits from exercising without actually exercising?

For that we need to see exercising in a different light and instead look at it in terms of physical activity, which can also include regular daily activities that are often not regarded as exercise.

Take Pete, for example:

Pete is seventy years old and retired several years ago. Pete used to cycle to work every single day, which meant that he was on his bicycle for more than an hour each day. After he retired, he kept cycling and did so in greener environments. On top of that, he started walking more. He walked to the supermarket for his groceries and he walked into town every time he had an errand to run. Pete still walks and cycles to this day, because he feels good doing it and he believes this way he need not exercise.

It’s great Pete incorporates daily physical activity. And he's right about not necessarily having to exercise.

How does that work?

Studies of exercise and immune function have shown that near-daily brisk walking, compared with inactivity, reduced the number of sick days by up to half.

But mind you:

These walking benefits appeared after walking for thirty to forty-five minutes for five days a week. (1)

This shows that regular physical activity is clearly meaningful. More importantly, it shows that you can perform physical activity in different ways and incorporate any activity that resonates with your own personal needs.

Cycling, walking and other daily activities that increase your heart rate, to at least some extent, are all helpful.

Intriguingly, there are more benefits as well: exercise, but also walking and even stretching ...

... can make us more resilient to the challenges which life has to offer. In other words, they are effective stress management techniques. (2), (3), (4)

When it comes to stress, regular exercise and physical activity are key. Exercising two to three times a week is more beneficial than exercising once, but exercising just once is clearly better than not exercising at all, as we’ve talked about last week.

For walking and stretching, there is an obvious benefit in comparison to no physical activity, but the benefits are greatest when you do them regularly, such as walking at least five times a week. (4)

“That sounds great, but what if I don’t have so much time?” you might wonder.

Then there’s still good news for you...

More about that next time.

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