Physical activity – 7 great reasons to exercise

Key points about why it's good to be active

  • Our bodies were designed to move, not to sit most of the day at work, home or in an office.
  • The health benefits of regular physical activity are hard to ignore. 
  • There's no shortage of evidence that exercise and activity is good for your physical and mental wellbeing – it might even help you live longer. 
  • So here are 7 great reasons to up the exercise and get more active.
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1. Exercise can make you feel happier

It's true! Exercise can improve your mood and make you feel happier, by producing changes in the part of the brain that regulate stress and anxiety. Exercise can increase the production of endorphins, which are known to help produce positive feelings. You don't even have to do anything strenuous to get these effects, even gentle exercise can lift your spirits.

Several people standing in a swimming pool

Image credit: Hora te pai

2. Exercise can help you lose or control your weight

Exercise plays an important role in a healthy metabolism and helps you burn more calories per day. Regular exercise also plays a part in maintaining healthy muscles and bones, and assists with weight loss.

3. Exercise can reduce your risk of health conditions and disease

Lack of regular exercise is a contributor to many health conditions including Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and many cancers.

4. Exercise can increase your energy levels

There are fantastic heart and lung health benefits when you exercise regularly. Aerobic exercise boosts the cardiovascular system, which can significantly help with energy levels.

5. Exercise helps you sleep better

Regular physical activity can help you sleep better and give you more energy during the day.

6. Exercise can help put the spark back into your sex life

Doing regular exercise can strengthen your heart, improve blood circulation, tone muscles, and enhance flexibility – all of which can improve your sex life. It can also decrease the risk of erectile dysfunction in men.

7. Exercise can help your brain health and memory

Regular physical activity improves blood flow to the brain and helps brain health and memory. It can help protect mental function for older adults. 

Best of all, exercise can be FUN and social! Physical activity is a great way to foster connection, meet up with whānau and friends, and share common interests. If you want some ideas for how to get active with your tamariki/kids and get them involved in a healthy, active lifestyle here are some ideas.(external link) 

The HealthEd NZ has published a useful table outlining how exercise can help with various conditions and diseases.(external link) It also describes what type of exercise you should be concentrating on.

A moderate amount or level of exercise is beneficial for most people and it needn’t be hard to slot into your usual routine. The New Zealand guidelines for promoting physical activity define moderate-intensity activity as anything causing a slight but noticeable increase in breathing and heart rate. So get walking or swimming and you could be exercising your way to a long and, more importantly, healthy life.

If you're not used to physical activity, it can be tough to get going. This page has good information on starting physical activity(external link) when you haven't been active.

Remember to:

The Mayo Clinic provides information about how to get going on an exercise plan(external link), taking into account:

  • your current fitness level
  • your exercise goals
  • any equipment you might need
  • things to bear in mind as you get started
  • how to monitor your progress

If you have any concerns about whether or not you should be exercising, check with your doctor first. 

Video: 23 and 1/2 hours: What is the single best thing we can do for our health?

Dr Mike Evans has a big interest in preventative medicine. In this video, he explains what his research has led him to believe is the single best thing you can do for your health: exercise. This video '23 and 1/2 hours: What is the single best thing we can do for our health?' is also available in Arabic,(external link) French,(external link) Italian(external link) and Spanish.(external link) This video may take a few moments to load.


(Michael Evans & Mercury Films Inc, 2011)

Video: Let's make our day harder

This video may take a few moments to load.

(Dr Michael Evans & Reframe Health Films Inc, 2013)

All these exercises can be done at home. Core training is very important, especially for those of us who are slouched at desks or computers during the day making our core muscles weak.

Video: Abdominal and Lower back exercises - Rudi Williams – core fit tips

GRx healthy lifestyle advisor Rudi Williams shows how to do exercises that strengthen your core. This video may take a few moments to load.

(Green Prescription & Sport Auckland, NZ, 2015)

Video: Building the Core! - Core/trunk exercises

GRx healthy lifestyle advisor Rudi Williams guides you through a few more important exercises that can help to strengthen your core. This video may take a few moments to load.

(Green Prescription & Sport Auckland, NZ, 2015) 

Video: Press ups and shoulder stretch

GRx healthy lifestyle advisor Laura guides you through 3 different types of press up and finishes with some shoulder stretches. This video may take a few moments to load.

(Green Prescription & Sport Auckland, NZ, 2015)

Video: How to Squat correctly and stretches for the Thighs - Sophie – squats and quad stretch

Stretching and some basic exercise progressions using the squat with GRx healthy lifestyle advisor Sophie. This video may take a few moments to load.

(Green Prescription & Sport Auckland, NZ, 2015)

Video: Legs, Hips and Thigh Exercises - Shawn – hip bridge and glute stretch

Hip bridge and gluteus maximus stretches with GRx healthy lifestyle advisor Shawn. This video may take a few moments to load.

(Green Prescription & Sport Auckland, NZ, 2015)

Check out more fitness videos from Sport Auckland(external link) by clicking here(external link) 

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Credits: Healthify Editorial Team. Healthify is brought to you by Health Navigator Charitable Trust.

Reviewed by: Dr Janine Bycroft, GP, Auckland

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