What if you possessed a power to increase your overall potential, extend your longevity and help prevent disease?
The extraordinary thing is, that you do! It is the power of motion. Motion is movement, and movement has been conceptualized as physical activity for the human body.
Physical activity refers to any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that requires energy expenditure. A subcategory of physical activity is exercise, which refers to intentional, planned, structured and repetitive movement that aims to improve or maintain physical fitness (World Health Organization, 2018).
Before we take a brief look at the power that motion has, take a moment to reflect on your normal day and your routines, and write down how many waking hours per day you move and are sedentary. As you continue reading, critically think about how you could make greater use of the power that you actually already possess.
Exercise typically has three main components: cardiorespiratory, strength and flexibility exercise. Each one is part of the overall power equation to positively benefit your health and fitness; thus, it is recommended to include all three components into a regular workout regimen. However, there truly is power in all types of motion to improve your well-being and health, regardless of the type, length or intensity. Some movement is always better than none.
The power of motion not only positively impacts the human body, but also the mind (cognition and emotional wellbeing), social well-being, outlook on life and self-perception. The more consistently physical activity is practiced (including intentional exercise), the greater the benefits. For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2018) offers the following list of proven benefits of physical activity:
- Lowered blood pressure
- Improved cholesterol levels
- Reduced risk of cardiovascular disease
- Lowered triglycerides
- Lowered blood sugar
- Increased high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol
- Reduced risk of type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome
- Enhanced weight control and improved body-fat percentage
- Stronger bones and muscles
- Reduced risk of conditions affecting joints (e.g., arthritis)
- Reduced risk of some cancers (e.g., colon, breast, endometrial and lung cancer)
- Improved mental health and mood
- Reduced risk of depression
- Maintained thinking, learning and judgment skills with age
- Improved sleep
- Improved ability to perform daily activities and reduced risk of falls
- Increased longevity
More specifically, the American College of Sports Medicine reports that regular physical activity:
- Lowers risk of stroke by 27%
- Reduces the incidence of heart disease and high blood pressure by approximately 40%
- Reduces the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by approximately 40%
- Reduces mortality and risk recurrent breast cancer by approximately 50%
- Lowers risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 58%
- Lowers risk of colon cancer by over 60%
Regular physical activity may also have significant cognitive benefits, with research showing enhanced performance during and following intermittent exercise (Peven et al., 2018; Dupuy et al., 2018). Recent research shows that aerobic fitness may positively contribute to the allocation of attentional resources in childhood (Raine et al., 2018). Further, resistance training seems to have a particular benefit related to inhibitory control functions in the brain (i.e., the ability to inhibit or control impulsive responses, changing one response for a better, more thought-out response adapted to the situation) (Soga et al., 2018).
The human body works best when it is active. The more we ask of our bodies, the stronger and more fit they become. The more fit we are, the more efficient and effective we will function in all areas of life. The more we put our bodies in motion, the better our minds will function.
Imagine what could happen if we started converting sitting hours into moving hours each day. The power of motion has the potential to transform your life in incredible ways!
Dupuy, O. et al. (2018). Effect of acute intermittent exercise on cognitive flexibility: The role of exercise intensity. Journal of Cognitive Enhancement, 2, 2, 146-156.
Peven, J.C. et al. (2018). Associations between short and long bouts of physical activity with executive function in older adults. Journal of Cognitive Enhancement, 2, 2, 137-145.
Raine, L.B. et al. (2018). A large-scale reanalysis of childhood fitness and inhibitory control. Journal of Cognitive Enhancement, 2, 2, 170-192.
Soga, K. et al. (2018). Acute and long-term effects of resistance training on executive function. Journal of Cognitive Enhancement, 2, 2, 200-207.
World Health Organization (2018). Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health.