Whatever word chosen, they all aim at keeping an individual healthy. Defined by Wikipedia “as any bodily activity that enhances or maintains physical fitness, overall health and wellness,” exercise is performed by individuals for various reasons.
People differ in their interpretation of exercise. Some views about the concept of exercise include:
• It involves moving around.
• t is doing a job that involves moving from one place to another
• It is a task that has to be done to stay healthy.
• It is something outside leisure that involves movement of different parts of the body
The benefit of exercise is achieved in its performance and not from the mere thought, intent or mention of the word. This is to say that for most people, it is easier said than done! One may ask how much exercise is optimal for healthy living. The amount needed depends on varied individual needs. People do exercises for different reasons, some of which include weight loss, growth, as a sporting activity, wellness or leisure amongst others.
In adults, it is recommended to get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity, which should be spread out in a week. Consistently achieving small amounts is preferable to trying to perform the required amount in a day. Physical activity no matter how little is beneficial and builds up all through the day to improve health. Moderate aerobic exercise (also called moderate intensity exercise) is physical activity that gets the heart rate up to 50 to 60 percent higher than its rate when the individual is at rest. It is recommended for adults to have 30 minutes, five days a week, of moderate exercise. Some examples of moderate exercise include: brisk walking, swimming, jumping ropes, climbing stairs, washing the car, gardening and dancing, all done above 10 minutes. Vigorous intensity exercise (also called hard exercise) is a physical activity performed with a large amount of effort. While it is being carried out, there is a substantially higher heart rate (an increase of about 70 to 85 percent above the resting heart rate), rapid breathing and the individual may not be able to complete a sentence. Examples of vigorous exercise include jogging, running, cycling, single tennis, hiking uphill, fast swimming, martial arts, court sports (e.g handball, squash), sports that involve running (e.g basketball, hockey and soccer).
A mixture of moderate intensity and vigorous intensity exercise is recommended for better health. Any activity is better than none at all! Exercise may be classified as endurance (aerobic), strength, flexibility, balance, power, speed, amongst others. Aerobic exercise involves large muscle groups and uses more oxygen than the resting state. Examples include running, brisk walking, cycling, swimming, jumping rope and playing tennis. Strength exercises make the muscles firmer, improve tone and strengthen the muscles (push-ups, pull-ups, lunges and lifting weights). Flexibility exercises stretch and elongate the muscles. Flexibility allows freedom to move the muscles while performing other exercises. Examples are yoga, shoulder and upper arm stretch and calf stretch.
Health effects of exercise
Regular exercise is good for you is a common saying a lot of people have heard many times. Even children when asked would say exercise makes them healthier. However, the type and amount needed may vary from person to person. Health benefits of exercise include:
• Healthy living: Exercise increases fitness. It enhances metabolism in the body and improves health of individuals that exercise regularly and leads to increased self-confidence.
• Weight control: Alongside diet, exercise contributes to weight control and prevention of obesity. It helps to burn calories and helps achieve weight loss.
• Lower risk of heart disease: Exercise improves circulation of blood around the body, thus increasing distribution of oxygen round the body. It strengthens the heart and lowers the risk of conditions like coronary artery disease, heart attack, high cholesterol, stroke.
• Stronger immune system: Exercise has some anti-inflammatory effects and positively impacts the immune system.
• Better mood: Exercise causes the release of chemicals including endorphins, which improve the mood and make people happier. This is why exercise can be useful in relieving stress. It also decreases risk of depression and anxiety disorder. It improves the outcome in the management of mood-related disorders.
• Maintaining normal blood sugar: Exercise lowers blood sugar and decreases insulin resistance, thus its importance in preventing diabetes mellitus.
• Lower risk of some cancers: Exercise helps to prevent obesity and decreases the chances of developing certain cancers, for example, breast, colon, lung cancers amongst others. It also does this by improving the immune system.
• Better sleep and relaxation: Exercise in adequate amount improves quality of sleep and improves insomnia. It helps relieve the mind of stress and calms the body.
• Longevity: Physical fitness is considered as an important predictor for longevity. Regular exercise reduces the risk of early death because it generally improves health.
• Healthy bones: Exercise helps slow the loss of bone mass which may occur with increasing age. Thus exercise helps decrease the risk of osteoporosis and contributes to stronger bones in kids and teens.
• Better mental health: Adequate exercise improves thinking (judgment), learning and memory. It slows down deterioration of cognitive functions in individuals, hence decreasing the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
• Better sexual health: Exercise causes increased blood flow throughout the body, which contributes to better sexual function. It also enhances self-image and reduces stress, which in turn maintains a healthy sex drive.
Whatever value has been placed on exercise applies to adequate amount alone. Exercise when in excess can be harmful. Unsuitable exercise can do more harm than good, hence there is need to identify which exercise is appropriate for an individual from trained professional when engaging in vigorous exercise.
Health quote of the week:
Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity”- John F. Kennedy