Aaron Chy, BSc General, PharmD Student
Whether you go to the gym frequently or not, you’ve probably heard the saying, “don’t skip leg days.” The image of a beefy bodybuilder with an upper body in the shape of a Dorito, walking on two stilts for legs is a bit of a running joke among the weightlifting and athletic community.
Nonetheless, working out your legs has a number of benefits that goes far beyond building muscle, strength, and looking good in a pair of fitted pants. In fact, the benefits are more than just physical; regular weight-bearing exercise for lower body can play a big role in keeping a healthy nervous system and maintaining a good metabolism.
You Can’t Drive a Car Without Wheels
Reduced activity and sedentary lifestyle have long been associated with various complications in individuals ranging from patients in rehabilitation to astronauts exposed to zero-gravity environments.1 On the other hand, physical activity is associated with improved recovery, flexibility and function. If you’ve ever experienced an injury, this shouldn’t be a surprise, as the majority of recommendations from physicians and physiotherapists often include exercise routines to keep up blood flow and flexibility to the injured site.
Recently, a study took a closer look on the effects of restricting body movements on nerve development. They tested lab rats that were healthy and uninjured, but restricted from being able to move their legs. After the study was finished, it was found that reduced activity of the lower body was associated with less neuronal stem cell development in the brain. Restricting activity was also associated with worse oxygen circulation throughout the body which had a negative effect on metabolism.
Why These Results Aren’t Surprising
Our bodies are naturally designed for efficiency and saving energy. What does this mean? If a certain muscle or body part goes unused, the body will eventually respond by dedicating less resources to that area. This explains why when you stop doing weights, your muscles start to lose strength and size. At the same time, our bodies are also designed to move and stay active. So while our body gears for efficiency, it also requires regular physical activities; as a result, lack of physical activity is often associated with poorer health outcomes. So, if you were looking for a motivation to get up and start moving, this is it.
Still not convinced? What if I told you that physical activity has a slowing effect on the ageing? The list of benefits is endless.
We hope you took away something valuable from this piece. If you have any questions or concerns regarding this article or others, feel free to reach out to us on Instagram, Facebook, or at email@example.com with your feedback. We’d love to hear from you.
- Adami, R. )., Pagano, J. )., Colombo, M. )., Platonova, N. )., Chiaramonte, R. )., Bottai, D. )., & … Canepari, M. ). (2018). Reduction of movement in neurological diseases: Effects on neural stem cells characteristics. Frontiers In Neuroscience, 12(MAY), doi:10.3389/fnins.2018.00336