[By Lynette Tan]

Step right up! It’s the miracle cure we’ve all been waiting for. It can reduce your risk of major illnesses, such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer by up to 50% and lower your risk of early death by up to 30%. It’s free, easy to take, has an immediate effect and you don’t need to see your doctor to get some. What is this voodoo magic? Au contraire, it’s called Exercise!

Exercise is the miracle cure we’ve always had, but we’ve neglected to take our recommended dose for too long. Our health is now suffering as a consequence. Whatever your age, there’s now strong scientific evidence that being physically active can help you lead a healthier and even happier life.

For instance, people who do regular activity have a lower risk of many chronic diseases, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke and some cancers. Research also shows that physical activity can also boost self-esteem, mood, sleep quality and energy, as well as reducing your risk of stress, depression, dementia and even Alzheimer’s disease.

“If exercise were a pill, it would be one of the most cost-effective drugs ever invented,” says physician Dr Kenneth Lee.

Health benefits

And here are the numbers to prove it. Research shows that people who do regular physical activity have:

  • up to a 35% lower risk of coronary heart disease and stroke
  • up to a 50% lower risk of type 2 diabetes
  • up to a 50% lower risk of colon cancer
  • up to a 20% lower risk of breast cancer
  • a 30% lower risk of early death
  • up to an 83% lower risk of osteoarthritis
  • up to a 68% lower risk of hip fracture
  • a 30% lower risk of falls (among older adults)
  • up to a 30% lower risk of depression
  • up to a 30% lower risk of dementia

What counts?

To stay healthy or to improve your health, adults should do at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) of moderate intensity aerobic activity each week. Moderate-intensity aerobic activity means you’re working hard enough to raise your heart rate and break a sweat. One way to tell if you’re working at a moderate intensity is if you can still talk but you can’t sing the words to a song.

Examples of moderate-intensity aerobic activities are:

  • walking fast
  • water aerobics
  • riding a bike on level ground or with few hills
  • playing doubles tennis
  • pushing a lawn mower

Daily chores such as shopping, cooking or housework don’t count towards your 150 minutes. This is because the effort needed to do them isn’t hard enough to get your heart rate up.

 

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