What is the value of physical activity?
Habitual physical activity can produce some pretty amazing health benefits and performance enhancements for people of any age. Here are some points to help you better understand the “whats” and the “whys” of exercise for general fitness.
Cardiovascular Conditioning through Aerobic Exercise
What: This is any type of continuous activity that gets your major muscles moving and heart pumping faster than it does at rest. Some ideas include walking, hiking, running, stair climbing, cycling, swimming, ellipticals, rowing, dancing and endurance sport games.
Why: Stimulating the body with exercise to a greater degree than what it is used to results in physiological adaptations. Some of these adaptations include:
- A stronger heart that can pump out more blood with fewer beats.
- More efficient exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide in both the lungs and cells of the body.
- Decreased blood pressure due to more resilient blood vessel walls.
- Decreased LDL (the bad cholesterol that facilitates the build-up of plaque on the artery walls, narrowing the canals and increasing the risk for a heart attack).
- Increased HDL (the good cholesterol that takes the plaque off of artery walls).
- Reduced need for insulin and improved ability for the cells to take in blood sugar.
- Reduced total body fat, including the fat around your organs.
- Decreased anxiety and depression due to the psychological and chemical response dependent on activity.
- Enhanced physical function, resulting in maintenance of independence with age.
- Stable feeling of well-being.
Overall, aerobic activity that is done consistently over time plays a significant role in the reduction of risk for diseases such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and certain types of cancer. Considering the prevalence of these diseases, it is no misconception that the need for regular aerobic activity demands our attention now more than ever.
Strength Training through Resistance Exercise
What: This type of activity is achieved when the muscles and bones of the body are required to exert a force greater than what is typically encountered in order to overcome a load. Resistance exercise equipment is open to the imagination, but traditionally includes machines and, more functionally, body weight, free weights (dumbbells, barbells, etc), resistance bands, pulleys, stability balls, and medicine balls.
Why: Resistance Exercise:
- Produces noticeable improvements in the amount of effort it takes to complete a task.
- Reduces risk of injury and debilitation.
- Speeds up resting metabolism.
- Builds lean muscle mass.
- Results in a toned physique.
- Prevents osteoporosis.
- Increases power and stamina, some of the most vital factors in sport or daily life performance.
- Enhances strength and mechanical efficiency with movement.
- Helps you get through the day with more energy.