At its essence, physical activity is about movement. The World Health Organization defines physical activity as “any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that requires energy expenditure—including activities undertaken while working, playing, carrying out household chores, traveling, and engaging in recreational pursuit.” The benefits are widely proven, including preventing chronic disease, reducing stress, managing weight, improving sleep, alleviating depression, and so on. To receive these benefits, our engagement needs to be regular and sustained—not intermittent, only during holidays, or only when we want to lose weight or can find the time.
The wellness world often looks at physical activity through the narrow lens of “fitness” or “exercise”—working out at a gym, taking a spin or Zumba class, doing yoga, and so on. In fact, we can do wellness-enhancing physical activities in many ways and places. GWI research explores the different ways in which we can engage in physical activity, from fitness, recreational and leisure activities to the natural movement that occurs in our daily lives.
A large new study (152,978 participants) from University College London and Harvard researchers provides fresh evidence as to just how important exercise is to mental health. People with low aerobic and muscular fitness were roughly twice as likely to experience depression and 60% more likely to suffer anxiety.