Why is exercise important, according to science?

Why is exercise important? At first glance, this might seem like a pretty simple question – school systems around the world tell us that exercise is a great way to stay fit and healthy. But what are the real physiological benefits of increasing your heart rate, and why are they so important to human function?

First of all, it is important to understand what exercise is. For many, the phrase will trigger mental images of a session on one of the world’s best treadmills. (opens in a new tab)a HIIT bike workout (opens in a new tab), or a trip to the gym, and that’s not far from wrong. A 1985 public health report (opens in a new tab) seeking to pin down the term settled on a definition of “planned, structured, repetitive bodily movement performed to improve or maintain one or more components of physical fitness”.

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