Why is fitness important?

We exlpore the benefits for your physical and mental health

Couple running on a beach

by William Austin-Lobley |
Updated on

Messages around fitness are everywhere. There are gym membership deals plastered on buses and cardboard stands at the end of supermarket aisles filled with nutritional supplements. There are nationwide NHS initiatives and charities that promote the benefits of an active lifestyle.

The message we can all get from this is that fitness is important - but why?

Benefits to your physical health

It’s universally agreed that physical activity is one of the best things you can do for your health. According to the NHS, and backed up by countless studies, exercise is one of the best ways to limit your risk of health conditions like diabetes, stroke, heart disease and cancer (via NHS and British Heart Foundation).

By regularly partaking in exercise, you can increase your overall fitness level. According to national guidelines (via GOV.uk), adults require a minimum of 150 minutes of activity per week and perform a form of physical exercise every day.

Benefits to your mental health

According to the mental health charity Mind, physical activity has been linked to improvements in mental health. Many studies have shown that physical activity can help improve sleep, lift your mood, and help manage stress and anxiety. Exercise can also reduce the risk of depression.

Additionally, improvements in fitness can be linked with improved self-esteem. Partaking in sports and group activities can also help you meet new people.

Note that these benefits are not guaranteed - if you are struggling with physical activity and your mental health, head over to the Mind website to find out more.

What counts as physical exercise?

Exercise includes walking, running and cycling. Swimming at a local pool is a great form of exercise that is easy on your joints. Many people get great results from attending a gym and working out a routine with a personal trainer, while others enjoy exercising with others more rewarding, whether through sports or classes.

What’s important is that you find a physical activity that works for you, that you enjoy and that you can maintain.

Exercises that can help improve fitness

Looking for some inspiration around physical activity? Below you will find some examples of different exercises - these are only a small selection of what’s out there. And don't be afraid to mix it up and try a bit of everything.


Aerobic exercise is all about warming the body up and increasing your heart rate and breathing. These exercises can benefit your cardiovascular system (heart and circulation) and help improve endurance.

Examples of aerobic exercises include:

• Walking and hiking

• Running

• Cycling

• Zumba and dancing

• Swimming

• High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)


This type of physical activity helps release tightness in muscles. These exercises can also help you strengthen your core and improve stability.

Examples of mobility exercises include:

• Yoga

• Pilates

• Stretching


These exercises have your body working against some form of resistance or weight. These exercises can build your muscles, strengthen bones and reduce the risk of injury.

Examples of resistance training equipment include:

• Bodyweight & callisthenics

• Resistance bands

• Weightlifting

• Weight machines

• Kettlebells

William Lobley is a Deputy Editor and reviewer for What's The Best, specialising in technology and outdoors. He also writes for Empire Online.

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