The Importance of Exercise

A lot of my work includes banging the drum about 'the importance of exercise.'

I often ask myself whether there's any point though – given that this concept goes by largely ignored by the general population. Similar messages echoed by my peers are mostly also received in a lukewarm manner.

However, being patient and persistent, I usually (and stubbornly) end up holding onto my optimism –  in the hope that one day, we will see a significant change for the better.

And so I'm dedicating this page to the importance of exercise, and why it's a no-brainer – unless of course you're from another planet.

6 reasons to heed the importance of exercise

I realize that if you're indifferent or opposed to exercise, then reading the statement 'importance of exercise' will probably resonate as too matter-of-fact, or overly presumptuous.

I am however prepared to defend my position on the wording. Frankly though, I don't even think the topic is debatable.

1. no need to revalidate aN ALREADY PROVEN fact

The importance of exercise – in its contribution to good health – requires no further analysis or detailed explanations. Yes, it's good for you.

The importance of exercise is unequivocally supported by endless medical tests, experiments and perceptible cause-effect relationships. A perfect counterweight to the importance of physical health.

The benefits of exercise are experienced by any individuals who participate in regular physical exercise activities and is demonstrated by their superior quality-of-life.

Simple! Ever meet anyone who was worse-off for having engaged in physical exercise?

2. A simple reality-check REVEALS that we're failing

Taking a look at the current state of the general public's health situation – and it's clear that the message has not been internalized.

Many studies are showing alarming statistics which indicate that significant quotas of modern society are living sedentary lives and not maintaining good eating habits. (See the WHO Media Center's Fact Sheet no. 311.)

But you actually don't need to review published statistics or reports. Just look around and you'll see that society is on a long-term 'bulging' campaign. 

Since the 1996 US Surgeon General’s report on Physical Activity and Health was published, there have been numerous campaigns afoot to mobilize action for change. But people are not responding – at least not seriously enough.

People are not adequately dealing with their own physical condition, neither do they appear particularly motivated by the potential risks, nor the benefits of exercise they squander in the process.


The answer to this is rather easy and well-known, but I still love reiterating it:

Because it is essential for the good health of ALL individuals, regardless of age, gender or physical condition.

It's true that the world has become fast-paced and more demanding. It asks people to do more with less (including some of our down-time) and makes convenience commodities 'seem' the better choice.

It means less walking and more driving; it also means more fast-food and less wholesome unprocessed varieties. Furthermore, physical activity, relaxation and conversation have literally taken a back seat as people become more sedentary, mostly thanks to the information age and the modern home entertainment era.

Like it or not, this is the hard reality.


The good news is that you don't have to forego the occasional fast-food meal, surfing the Web or watching TV. But you should make the time to also work out, eat responsibly (most of the time) and relax. 

For optimal health, it's essential to integrate physical, emotional and mental wellness into daily living. 

Continuing to live an unbalanced life where most of your time and energy is spent working a job is not sustainable.

Yes, this may mean promotions and lucrative rewards. But these come with a price tag. Sooner or later you'll need to reckon with the neglected parts of your life, be they caring for your health, community involvement – or simply relaxing with friends or loved ones.

Don't let it come to this! Or you might have to face up to an unpleasant prospect.

As Edward Stanley so eloquently put it: “Those who think they have not time for bodily exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness.”

be mindful about where you are, and where you're headed

When you think about it, as a modern society, we really need to work not only to improve our all-round health, but also to restore the more wholesome family values and work ethics we once lived by.

Yes the world has become more competitive and people have less time all-round; we work longer hours and are usually tired, disillusioned and frustrated, often lazing about and turning to food for comfort a little too frequently. And looking at it that way, it’s easy to see why people gradually go wayward.

If you're too focused on participating in the rat-race, with little time for anything else, you 'could' ultimately find yourself in poor health or overweight. You may have even lose perspective, your sense of security, perhaps without really knowing how it happened.


Of course, physical exercise means work. And it's not always fun.

But, knowing the big payouts, makes it easier to become and stay motivated – and to enjoy it 'most' of the time. Knuckling down and getting into shape requires hard work and dedication. It’s not a case of flicking a switch. But it gets more manageable and more enjoyable. 

To sustain your effort, you need to have your life in order and under your control. In other words, you have to be in healthy mental shape and emotionally stable too. And I don't mean you should sit around and wait until you are on an 'even keel' before becoming active.

Approaching it like that and you'll never get anywhere. The importance of exercise should not be seen as subject to anything.

If there are issues which you feel are holding you back, proactively address them. But don't make your fitness program dependent on your mindset – or you're a non-starter.


Once you have faced your demons and underway with your physical exercise plan, you need to sustain your efforts to see your goal through to fruition. Part of helping one stay the course is to plan and keep track of your fitness program. As I said on the Home Page, exercise activities needn’t be boring. You can have a very rewarding and long-term health related fitness experience, if you approach it sensibly. Read more here.


In an overall sense, physical exercise causes a number of significant changes in the human body as a result of the stress placed on it – hence the term “Training Effect”. Simply put, you work your body and cause fatigue and micro-trauma to the anatomy, which in turn influence changes in biochemical properties and physiological processes.

The body then responds by recovering (when you sleep), growing stronger and more resistant. The benefits derived, most importantly, include muscular, cardiovascular and metabolic change, which greatly reinforce one’s health and fitness condition.

According to the International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA), the result of the “Training Effect” on one’s body affords the ability to undertake physical more easily with less apparent reaction, thus providing an increase in quality-of-life.

To further detail the importance of exercise, consider the following points, each of which relates to tangible benefits:

  • The beneficial “Training Effect” resulting from regular exercise promotes good health and helps prevent major health-related complications connected with costly treatment and serious (and often preventable medical) consequences;
  • Regular exercise can contribute to improving a whole host of health conditions, some of which include: Anxiety Cancer Cholesterol Depression Diabetes Fatigue Heart disease High blood pressure
  • If included as part of a schooling syllabus (especially junior schools), the perceived benefits of participating in exercise could help ground the concept of health and fitness from a young age, which would hopefully endure with the individual on a long-term basis, and contribute towards society’s benefit on the whole;
  • With the public’s higher-than-ever levels of obesity, people are much more reliant on medical care than should be the case. This places a tremendous financial load on consumers for health insurance, as well as on the national budget for those who rely on state healthcare.
  • As mentioned above, the mental state of an individual actively engaged in physical activity is a significant consideration. The importance of exercise here, is that it can positively enhance the relationships between physical fitness, mental wellbeing and emotional stability.
  • The importance of exercise also extends to the psyche. Physical fitness greatly contributes to enhancing self-esteem and boosting confidence. People actively engaged in exercise are generally more successful at what they set out to do.


I believe that any individual, young or old, thin or overweight, has the mental capacity to understand and accept the fact that exercise is not only beneficial to his/her health, but also vital.

So why are so few listening? Let’s read on.

Yes, one would think that potentially enjoying all of the many advantages and benefits of exercise would be enough of a stimulus to get people interested and involved. Not a chance.

Okay so one could assume then that inactive people, especially those with potential health issues, would be responsible enough to address their situations by themselves, right? Again, no way.

What about individuals who have left it so late that they are aging and in an advanced state of ill-health, perhaps even facing dire prospects? Surely this group would do something? Well, still precious little.

You would think expensive medical bills like those associated with chronic ailments would alone act as an incentive to this group and encourage people to become healthier.

So why with all the high-level awareness campaigns, cross-cutting initiatives and communiqués do we continue to ignore or neglect the problem? Are we consciously aware of our actions when we overlook the importance of exercise as a precursor to better health or to offset the effects of certain maladies and health conditions?

It may just be that those attempting to promote change among the public are barking up the wrong tree. Are those awareness initiatives really “leveling” with the ordinary person?

I believe that many of us are either misinformed (conveniently) or uninformed; or we simply do not recognize the actual importance of exercise and the associated health benefits for a variety of reasons. The reasons could be down to our own particular predispositions, possibly justified to ourselves and to others by means of a self-serving bias - or it could be to do with motivation.

You see, simply wanting to or knowing that you need to shape up is not enough to get you moving, and this little piece of the puzzle is neither adequately considered, nor catered for by high-level awareness campaigns which, by nature can all but hammer on the hard facts of obesity, hoping these will encourage people to take action.

Scare tactics on cigarette boxes have not seemed to deter smokers, so why would a similar mode of campaigning have any more success with obese individuals? On the page dealing with Motivation, we discuss these and other interesting topics, several of which may be possible impediments to us realizing the importance of exercise. > The Importance of Exercise