Benefits of Exercise - Mental & Physical benefits & Icons doing Exercise

19th March 2021

Benefits of Exercise: What did the Icons do?

We’ve all heard it – the endless benefits of exercise blah blah. But really, they do exist! We’ve done a bit of research into the physical benefits of exercise as well as the benefits of exercise on mental health, and it’s fair to say, the experts are right. Exercise really is a game changer!

This past year it is safe to say that everyone has felt a bit down or fed up at some point. During some of these lockdown days it’s just out of reach, but doing exercise has so many benefits for your mental and physical health. It doesn’t have to exist only for weight loss. We are going to talk you through the health benefits of different types of exercise – and how it can be made fun (yes, really!). With each exercise, we look at which icons of the 50s and 60s gave it a go, in the hope of inspiring some of us to get moving!

Research shows that being physically active reduces your risk of major illnesses and allows you to remain active later in life. The benefits of exercise on mental health include improved mood, lifting self-esteem, and reducing likelihood of developing depression and other mood disorders. Exercise might have become a word that makes us wince during lockdown, but we believe that whatever activity you can do can make a huge difference. We have gathered some of our favourite icons and what sort of exercise they used to do, and examples of mental and physical health benefits of exercise. Many of these can be done from home, so we’ve got corona covered. Hopefully, these badass babes from the 50s and 60s will inspire us all to get active! 

Marilyn Monroe – Weight Training

Marilyn Monroe was one of the most envied women of the 50s, so it’s no surprise that everyone wanted her workout routine! She swore by doing weight training to keep specific muscles firm, doing about 10 minutes each morning. Something to take away from Marilyn’s routine is that little and often is the way to do it. She never timed or counted her exercises, as she said “I couldn’t stand exercise if I had to feel regimented about it” – preach! By following in Marilyn’s footsteps, the pressure is taken off reaching a specific target, making you feel on top of the world no matter what amount of exercise you do. 

So, what are the specific benefits of weight training?

One of the most important long-term benefits of weight training is that it keeps your bones strong. After the age of 30 (so young, we know!), your bones start to lose their strength, but keeping up weight training is a great way to counterbalance this. If you are wanting to lose weight and cardio is too strenuous, weight training is a great alternative as it boosts metabolism and help to lose fat. Not only is weight training extremely beneficial for your physical health, it comes with a host of benefits of exercise on mental health including improved mood and better sleep patterns – something we can all benefit from! 

Eartha Kitt – Yoga

Eartha Kitt was a hugely influential and inspirational woman, who put her efforts into activism for underprivileged youths and the LGBT community.

She also loved her yoga! As you can see in these pictures, she had immense strength and was advanced in yoga. However, yoga is a form of exercise that everyone can take part in, no matter your level of strength or flexibility – no excuses for this one! No matter which level you start at, you will be sure to improve and reap the benefits of yoga.

What are the benefits of yoga?

Yoga showcases endless benefits of exercise. Physically, yoga improves strength and balance, helps with back pain relief, and benefits the health of your heart. There are also endless benefits of this exercise on mental health, including relaxation, brighter mood, and the ability to combat stress. Doing yoga as well as practising mindfulness can lead to a greater sense of happiness and fulfilment, so it’s a great activity to get into! 

Thankfully, yoga is something you can do in almost any environment. All you need is a soft surface and you’re good to go! There are tonnes of youtube videos covering all levels of yoga, so it’s very accessible. Seeing as it can be done form the comfort of your living room floor, it seems a great way of getting active during lockdown! Even if you only manage a few minutes, you’ll reap the benefits of exercise and feel amazing.

Diana Ross – Roller-Skating

diana ross roller skating 1 | Icons doing exercise

Diana Ross is a singer and actress, starring in one of the most successful girl groups of the 60s – The Supremes. As you can see from her photographs, she was absolutely gorgeous, even when exercising! These photos show her with roller skates on, a sport she loved to do.

What are the physical and mental health benefits of roller skating?

Roller skating is a brilliant form of cardio, causing much less stress to joints than running does. This might be a sport to consider if you have issues with joint pain. Like other forms of exercise, the benefits of this exercise on mental health include improved mood. Not only this, but it’s fun! There’s nothing worse than doing exercise and absolutely hating every minute – roller-skating combines exercise and fun, so what more can we ask for?

Ann Margaret – Dance

Ann Margaret is a singer, dancer and actor, who starred in numerous shows throughout the 1960s and 1970s. Ann Margaret performed alongside Elvis Presley in Viva Las Vegas which featured many songs and dances throughout the film. Not only was she a brilliant dancer to watch, but dancing also kept her in shape. 

Why is dancing good for you?

Dancing is such a brilliant way of having fun while doing exercise. It improves the condition of your heart and lungs, aids weight loss, improves strength and reduces your chances of osteoporosis. All in all, a great way to protect your body from age-dependent deterioration! Some people view dance as a source of therapy, as it is known for its lifting mood benefits. Dancing really does demonstrate what the benefits of exercise on mental health are. We’ve all experienced the fun of having a boogie – who knew it was such a good source of exercise? Dancing with others also increases social bonds and strengthens friendships – so once lockdown is over, we should all get dancing with our loved ones! 

If going out for a run or doing an intense cardio workout is too daunting, dancing may be the perfect exercise for you. You can do it from any room in your house, and there are endless dance workouts online. You could even zoom call a friend and do it together! 

Rhonda Fleming – Cycling

rhonda bike | Icons doing exercise

Rhonda Fleming was an actress and singer in the 50s, known as the ‘Queen of Technicolour’. These photographs show her looking very elegant leaning on her bike. See, not all exercise has to look disorganised and sweaty!

What are the benefits of cycling?

Cycling is a great sport to do alone or with others. It has many physical benefits of the exercise such as improved cardiovascular fitness, flexibility, and joint mobility. It also has been known to decrease stress, something we all need after the last year!

If you don’t have your own bike, why not ask someone if you could borrow theirs, or have a look on gumtree or Facebook marketplace for a bargain. 

Audrey Hepburn – Ballet

Audrey Hepburn had a great passion for ballet. Despite being told her height would hold her back from a career in ballet, she still pursued it alongside acting. What can we learn from this, you ask? Never stop following your passion just because you aren’t perfectly cut out for it! We know that ballet is a difficult and sometimes inaccessible form of exercise, but many sports facilities host dancing workout classes where you can practice your pirouettes! Ballet has many physical benefits such as flexibility, improved posture and a gracefulness about your movements. Also, just taking one look at ballet dancer’s gorgeous dresses might be enough to inspire you! 

Love Audrey? Why not read some motivational quotes from her here!

Hopefully, these icons of the 50s and 60s have inspired you to get active, or try a new type of exercise! The benefits of exercise are endless, and each different type comes with its own host of positives. Not only is exercise incredibly good for your physical health, the mental health benefits of exercise are so real. Remember, even these icons didn’t feel up to it every day. So don’t be hard on yourself and see each activity as a benefit to your life!

How did Marilyn Monroe keep her figure?

Using a mixture of weight training and a consistent diet. She swore by short bursts of exercise and had raw egg every morning and steak for dinner.

How did Eartha Kitt stay Catwoman Purrfect?

Yoga kept Eartha Kitt strong and flexible, the purrfect combination for any Catwoman!

What workout did Audrey Hepburn do?

Audrey Hepburn was a trained ballet dancer, she also walked a lot.

How did Ann Margret stay in shape?

Dancing throughout her career

Did Diana Ross diet?

Diana Ross looked after her health with a combination of jogging, roller skating and dance.

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