Exercise has so many benefits

Exercise automatically improves all the hallmarks and root causes of ageing, writes Deanna Copland.

It improves blood sugar control and insulin sensitivity; helps control weight gain; reduces the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

It improves mood, motivation, circulation and cognitive function. It reduces the risk of dementia by increasing brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). Exercise improves muscle strength and bone health, sleep and detoxification and even helps to raise testosterone, which improves libido as we age.

There are all sorts of reasons why we don’t move our bodies as much as we could do - time often being the reason. When you realise how quickly time disappears when you zone out on your phone or happily squeeze in one more Netflix episode, it can put things into perspective.

Most of us could find the recommended 30-60 minutes of movement most days, and enjoy the positive benefits, including increased energy.

Studies show that adults who have plenty of growth hormone tend to enjoy protection from fractures, have increased muscle mass, an improved exercise capacity and energy, and a reduced risk of future heart disease. Certain exercise can actually increase our growth hormone - and this can be blood tested by checking IGF-1.

Sprint 8 is a system for high-intensity interval training (HIIT) that is efficient with eight rounds of burst training intervals, followed by recovery at your usual moderate level of exercise. The aim is to do this four times a week. This could be done around a park while your children play.

It looks like this:

• Jog at moderate pace for 3-5 minutes

• Sprint as fast as possible, for 30 seconds

• Recover for 75-90 seconds

• Rinse and repeat for a total of eight cycles then cool down at your moderate pace.

For women, Stacy Sims, a scientist in female physiology, believes protein should be consumed within 40 minutes of finishing exercise in order to support recovery. For men, within 3 hours.

Quick options might include boiled eggs, chicken breast, a smoothie with nut butter or a protein powder added.

Other options include frittata (recipe below), omelette, fish and veggies, chicken salad, roast meat and veggies.

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images

Summer pea and basil frittata

Serves 4


2 cups fresh or frozen peas

¼ cup basil leaves, chopped

¼ tsp salt

6 eggs


Preheat the oven to 200°C.

Whisk eggs in a bowl and then add the remaining ingredients.

Lightly oil the base and sides of a cast iron pan. Pour the mixture into the pan and pop into the oven for 15-17 minutes, until golden on top.

Enjoy hot or cold.

- Dee Copland is a Central Otago-based naturopath and nutritionist