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Exercise holds health benefits for stressed Kiwis


A new scientific study (March 2022) has confirmed the brain’s role in deriving cardiovascular benefits from physical activity, showing exercise holds even more heart health benefits for people with stress-related conditions.

The research underscores the brain’s role in obtaining cardiovascular benefits from physical activity, ExerciseNZ chief executive Richard Beddie says.

“There has been an exorbitant amount of focus on resource and money spent on Covid-19, to the detriment of physical health and mental wellbeing of New Zealanders, especially as covid impacts relate so much to mental health. 

“This latest research not only reinforces why exercise is so important in the lives of every New Zealander but also in part tells us why the brain / cardiovascular link is so key because  helping or hurting one part helps or hurts the whole system.”

Regular physical activity had nearly doubled the cardiovascular benefit in individuals with depression or anxiety, compared with individuals without these diagnoses, according to a study.

The research findings add to mounting evidence that exercise improves cardiovascular health by helping to activate parts of the brain that counteract stress.

Overall, the study found that people who achieved the recommended amount of physical activity per week were 17 percent less likely to suffer a major adverse cardiovascular event than those who exercised less.

These benefits were significantly greater in those with anxiety or depression, who had a 22 percent risk reduction compared to a 10 percent risk reduction in those without either condition.

“That’s the United States, but New Zealand has a poor record of physical health activity. We are the 13th worst in the world when it comes to inactivity which is leading to a whole range of poor outcomes, such as being the second highest in the world in child obesity.

We need to be a much more active nation. There is no one easy fix, but we need to work together on a solution.


“There is much lip-service to New Zealand being a sporting nation. But the statistics just don’t back this up.

“I call on the government to work with employers, the exercise industry and the community to address this. ExerciseNZ wants to meet with the Prime Minister to resolve this terrible health inactivity situation.

ExerciseNZ chief executive Richard Beddie

“We can’t keep kidding ourselves about our nation’s lack of activity and the resultant health costs, especially to Maori who are over-represented and bear a disproportionate brunt of the poor health outcomes.

“People thinking of taking up a new exercise regime should ensure they get safe and effective advice by ensuing the person giving their exercise advice is registered through the NZ Register of Exercise Professionals,” Beddie says.

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