Why exercise? - Our bodies are essentially designed to cope with a certain level of physical activity. Until recent times, a fair amount of that physical activity formed part of our everyday lives. Fulfilling our basic needs for food and water and having to travel about or defend ourselves provided regular physical challenges.
In ancient times, not being able to walk or run meant that we would have either starved or were likely to have been killed by an enemy tribe or wild animals. Now that we live in an automated era, much of the physical activity necessary for everyday survival is already done for us and the nearest most of us get to being a hunter/gatherer is a trip to the local supermarket or a weekend's fishing!
So, in order to keep our bodies tuned and functioning efficiently we have to make a concerted effort to be active. With all the mental effort demanded of us in keeping our working, family or social lives together, that extra push we need to get us up off the sofa and out of the door to walk the dog is, for many of us, just too difficult to summon up.
Often, it's not until we find ourselves confronted with a major illness or find
ourselves confronted with a major illness or find ourselves averting our eyes
from the full-length mirror on the bathroom wall that many of us start to
seriously consider the state that our bodies are in and our level of fitness.
What exercise can do for you - regular exercise is important for
everyone. Yes, you have probably heard that a million times, but have you
thought what this actually means in terms of your own health?
It is now widely accepted that prevention is better than cure, and in recent years more and more people are turning to exercise as a way of not just keeping 'fit', but also to help prevent health problems from occurring in the first place. But if health problems have already happened, there's specific programmes of regular exercise for al patients to help deal with ailments such as heart disease or simply to improve patients' levels.
As well as rehabilitate, exercise can contribute greatly to lessening the
risk or even help control of many illnesses.
Exercise for health
Research into exercise continues in many major universities across the world. We now know that a regular planned programme of exercise can help
- Reduce the risk of heart disease
- Lower blood pressure levels
- Improve cholesterol levels
- Lessen the risk of osteoporosis
- Control asthma
- Control adult-onset diabetes
- Promote weight loss
- Manage stress
- Delay breathlessness
- Improve the blood circulation system
- Improve the functioning of the heart
- Improve postural problems
- Improve agility, balance and flexibility
- Improve strength
- Improve our sense of wellbeing.
Different types of exercise can help specific conditions. For example, regular and repetitive weight-bearing exercise such as fitness walking can prove extremely beneficial for premenopausal women in reducing their risk of suffering osteoporosis in later life. Regular aerobic exercise can improve the working of the cardiorespiratory (heart and lungs) system. Everyone can benefit from regular exercise taken at a moderate level and, while we don't all have to become Olympic athletes overnight, we ought to be aware of the dangers of inadequate exercise and diet.
Exercise - Cleaning up your system
Fortunately, our bodies have some marvellously efficient detoxification systems that cope well with unwanted substances and the particular demands of our modem lifestyles. Many poisons are broken down by the liver and rendered harmless before being excreted by the kidneys. Carbon dioxide left over from the chemical activities of cells is exhaled from the lungs into the atmosphere, later used by plants and converted back into oxygen - all part of the delicate way in which nature is balanced. Some wastes are sweated out through the skin, and of course much unwanted debris is excreted via the bowels after the goodness has been extracted.
The lymphatic system provides us with a cleaning and drainage network, which also removes waste products from cells along with the rubbish accumulated by the fighting forces of our immune system, such as dead bacteria. Unlike the blood circulation, the lymph has no pump to keep it on the move, but relies mainly on gravity and the action of our muscles. It is therefore vital to take some form of exercise to encourage the lymph to do its cleaning-up duties regularly. Brisk walking is beneficial, as are most sports. Any activity that involves small jumping movements is ideal, such as skipping or jogging, or bouncing on a mini-trampoline.
Exercise that gives good aerobic effect (that is making your heart beat faster and your face go pink) also increases the efficiency of your lungs in taking in oxygen and expelling carbon dioxide, while the perspiration will help to get rid of any extraneous urea not excreted by the kidneys; this is the nitrogenous waste produced when the liver transforms amino adds into glycogen.
If for some reason you are unable to take part in energetic activities, then whole-body deep breathing, raising your arms to the side as you breathe in, will be advantageous.
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