Longford Leader columnist Mattie Fox: Riveting insight into how minimal exercise increases human health

Mattie Fox


Mattie Fox



Niall Moyna

Professor Niall Moyna, DCU, second from right, is presented with his Education Award, by from left, Denis O’Callaghan, Alan Esslemont, and Aogán Ó Fearghail

Professor Niall Moyna, in his capacity as a doctor from the School of Health and Human Performance in DCU, spoke to Marian Finucane on Saturday last.

The subject was a discussion on keeping healthy, and how minimal exercise increases the human health.

The benefits of simple exercise without any machines or paraphernalia of any kind except the two legs that we all have, is truly amazing.

Niall was riveting in the entire segment of the programme.

First of all, exercise slows down certain age related changes in the brain.

“For years we have always thought about exercise in relation to our bones, and our muscles, and our heart, and probably because we didn’t have the technology to look at the brain, new technology and imaging techniques mean we can look at the brain and we find that exercise has the same impact on the brain as it has on all the other organ systems,” explained Dr Moyna.

He further explained how individuals who are the least active, benefit by a mile more than anyone else, physically and mental by initiating an exercise regime.

Most people talk about joining a gym.

Or taking up a fitness programme.

Not necessary.

When you go out for a walk there’s nothing that lights up your brain like ordinary exercise.

This is not to say that wonderful programmes can help also, but they are overrated, and if you walk you can achieve the very same end result.

But I’m sure most readers don’t want to run a marathon.

Niall got into fairly complex explanations, but in short, he made the point that if someone walks two and a half minutes out to the road, and two and a half minutes back - yes, five minutes in all - in that five minutes, the muscles will have released over two hundred chemicals that will have impacted positively on every single organ system, including your brain.

If every single person in this country got thirty minutes exercise per day, Ireland would reduce the risk of dementia by 32%. That would be approximately 1,500 people a year.

Just by walking.

Again, for someone who is totally inactive, the Women’s Health Initiative in the US took 72,000 women, and compared to women who didn’t walk at all, but were sedentary during the week, those who walked 60 minutes per week, had a 32% reduction in cardiovascular disease.

That is one of the main risk factors for dementia - Cardiovascular disease.

That’s just 60 minutes a week!

The results apply equally to men as well as women.