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10 facts about physical fitness you didn't know

In partnership with Newcastle Knights

We get the inside story on exercise myths

Woman in her 40s wearing a green shirt putting on her Muy Thai shin pads at the gym
Woman in her 40s wearing a green shirt putting on her Muy Thai shin pads at the gym

There’s no question that exercise is great for our health, but if you’re looking for even more reasons to get physical, we got the inside story on some interesting facts you may not know about exercise

Consider nib your health partner when it comes to looking after your body and mind – and when it comes to physical activity, we’ve done the metaphorical ‘warm-up’ for you by talking with the expert - Patrick Lane, nib Newcastle Knights Strength and Conditioning Coach. 

#1 Strength training continues to burn fat long after you finish your workout 

“The higher an individual’s muscle mass (and the lower their fat mass), the higher their metabolic rate, as muscle tissue burns far more kilojoules (energy) than fat tissue at rest,” explains Patrick. “Using resistance training to gain lean muscle mass is therefore beneficial to burn fat and can continue doing so long after you finish.” 

#2 Music can improve the quality of your workout 

Feel like you just can’t work out without your favourite playlist? You’re not imagining it! Some research suggests listening to music during exercise can distract people from pain and delay fatigue, elevate mood, increase endurance and performance, reduce perceived effort and may even boost power and strength. So don’t forget your headphones! 

#3 Exercise can make you happier 

Physical activity is a bit of a mental health superhero. When you exercise, your brain releases its happy chemicals – such as endorphins and serotonin – instantly improving your mood. Plus, regular exercise can help reduce stress and ease symptoms of depression and anxiety.  

A retired man in his 60s going for a hike in the bush wearing a cream t-shirt and red exercise shorts

#4 A longer workout isn’t necessarily a better workout 

The best workout is the workout that you’re going to do – and it all comes down to what your goals are and what you’re hoping to achieve. For example, your one-hour workout might be a steady walk, whereas your 10-minute workout could be a high intensity training session; both are valuable, and any type of workout is better than none.  

So choose something you enjoy, something that'll meet your goals and do it consistently  

#5 You can’t target ‘trouble spots’ with exercise 

Many people think that concentrating on specific muscle groups will reduce the fat in those areas – for example, doing lunges to melt away fat on the thighs and bum or sit-ups to flatten your stomach. However, that’s simply not how our bodies work. As we work out, we burn fat from all over our bodies, and the pattern is determined by genes, age and hormones – not how many squats you’ve done. Instead, focus on full-body workouts and let science take care of the rest. 

#6 Regular exercise can reduce fatigue 

The thought of working out might make you feel exhausted, but if you actually get up and move your body, you’ll likely find you feel invigorated! Physical activity is known to boost energy levels and can also minimise fatigue by helping you sleep better. It’s important to note though that some chronic conditions, including long COVID may be exacerbated by the wrong type or amount of exercise. In these situations, it’s important to talk to your health professional for personalised advice when it comes to an exercise program. 

#7 Eating before a workout may help with weight loss 

“Training in a fasted state is supported by scientific literature and anecdotal experience for fat loss,” says Patrick. “However, fuelling appropriately before a workout can also increase performance and power outputs during the workout, therefore leading to greater returns post-workout!”  

But, he adds, the very best time to eat depends on the individual and there’s no hard and fast rule – it can be variable dependent on age, gender, etc.  “An early morning trainer might choose to train in a fasted state, while an evening trainer will have obviously consumed food throughout the day and might even plan to eat a specific meal at some time pre workout.” 

#8 There are four key types of exercise – and we all need all of them 

While cardio is an important part of a fitness regimen, it’s only one aspect of physical fitness. Strength, flexibility and balance exercises are also essential for people of all ages. Strength exercise could be weights or resistance training. Flexibility could be as simple as doing gentle stretching and bending exercises each day, or you might try a class such as tai chi, yoga or dancing. Maintaining balance is essential to help prevent falls as you age – try regularly doing heel raises, side leg raises and even toe-heel walking in a straight line. 

#9 Different activity requirements apply to different age groups 

The amount of activity you need depends on your age. 

  • Children and young people aged 5 to 17 should do at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity each day. This doesn’t have to be one 60-minute session – several shorter sessions are fine.  

  • Adults aged 18-64 are recommended to be active most days (preferably all), doing either 2.5-5 hours of moderate intensity physical activity or 1.25-2.5 hours of vigorous intensity physical activity each week. 

  • For people 65 and over, the Australian Government guidelines recommend at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity on most, preferably all, days. If you do more, you’ll get bonus benefits! 

#10 Exercise can improve your focus, concentration and memory 

Exercise even improves brain function! As blood pumps to the brain during physical activity, it can help us think more clearly, leaving us feeling more focused after a workout. Exercise also increases the size of the hippocampus – the part of the brain responsible for memory – as well as the connections between nerve cells in the brain, helping guard against brain injury and disease.  

The tips throughout this article serve as broad information and should not replace any advice you have been given by your medical or allied health practitioner.  

Newcastle Knights players training at the field wearing their nib training uniform

In partnership with

Newcastle Knights

nib remains the longest continuous supporter of the nib Newcastle Knights and we’re passionate about the important role that exercise, particularly sport, has on the health and wellbeing of Australians.

In 2021, nib announced its commitment to equal sponsorship of the club’s NRL and NRLW teams to pave the way for greater representation of women and diversity in sport.

nib continues to support the Newcastle Knights’ digital platforms to tell the stories of NRL and NRLW players as a way to encourage all Australians to live health first.