(July 2012) by Dr Kate Baddock

There is a lot said and even more written about keeping fit and active. There are books on the subject and everyone has their opinion. But the facts are that we are what we eat minus what we burn off in energy – and keeping active is one of the simplest (as opposed to one of the easiest) ways to keep your metabolic rate up, burn off fat and keep fit. It’s easier to sit with your feet up, watch television, or read a good book, but it is simple to keep fit and active.

It’s going for a walk, or taking the dog out, playing with your children, or your grandchildren, going for a swim or a stroll on the beach. There are many ways to get that exercise and they are all good for you. When you exercise you burn calories – but not as many as you would like I’m sure. But the other benefit is that you raise your metabolic rate, not only while you exercise, but for an hour or so afterward, and that helps to burn more calories (as long as you don’t eat them all again).

Then there are the known health benefits of exercise. Exercise decreases insulin resistance so that the cells take up sugar more readily and this decreases the risk of developing diabetes. Exercise also helps decrease blood pressure. These effects are not dependent upon exercise causing weight loss but are a direct effect of the exercise, even if you don’t lose any weight. And then there is the effect of exercise upon serotonin levels. There are not many ways that you can have a positive impact on your serotonin levels but exercise is one of them. Serotonin in one of the very important neurotransmitters in the brain and when we don’t have enough, we get depressed, so getting those levels up with exercise can be a very important part of keeping healthy.

So the next time you are thinking of going out for a bit of exercise, but you’re tired or overworked, or would rather be doing something else, think of all the good you could be doing for yourself – both physically and mentally – and take that first step.