I’m sure most people are familiar with the benefits of exercise for strength and cardiorespiratory fitness, however something we may not be aware of is how exercise can improve not only our physical function but also our quality of life (QOL). QOL is often a highly subjective term and can generally be viewed as “the degree to which an individual is healthy, comfortable, and able to participate in or enjoy life events.”. This definition of QOL encompasses far more than just physical capacity; detailed below are five ways that being more physically active could substantially improve QOL.
- Improve strength and cardiorespiratory fitness – As mentioned previously this may seem like an obvious benefit of exercise. However, by making improvements in these areas your ability to complete activities of daily living can be significantly increased. Additionally, regular exercise will lead to improved body composition (reduction in fat mass and increased muscle mass). This will reduce your overall chronic disease risk.
- Improved mental health – Research consistently demonstrates the benefits of exercise on mental health and well-being. Exercise has been proven to promote the ‘feel good’ hormones while reducing our stress hormones. Therefore, consistent exercise can enhance moods and drastically decrease depressive symptoms leading to an enhanced QOL.
- Improved mobility – Similar to improvements in strength and cardiorespiratory fitness, mobility plays a dramatic role in our functional capacity and ability to more easily complete everyday activities.
- Improved sleep – Regular exercise has been shown to not only improve the ability to fall asleep but also improve sleep quality. Through improved sleep quality you can expect to feel more rested with an increase in your daily energy levels.
- Improved cognition – Consistent exercise has been shown to improve cognitive processing including executive functioning, attention and memory. These improvements have been observed in both young people and older adults.