Exercise and Health

Exercise and Health

The Nature of Exercise

  • Exercise is any bodily activity that enhances or maintains physical fitness, overall health and wellbeing.
  • It is characterised by an increase in physical exertion that results in development of muscles and fitness, as well as burning of calories.
  • Exercise can range from light activities like walking and light housework to moderate activities like cycling and gardening to more vigorous activities like running and skipping.

Types of Exercise

  • Aerobic exercise: It includes activities like jogging and cycling. These exercises use large muscle groups, are rhythmic, and can be maintained for a sustained period.
  • Anaerobic exercise: It involves activities like weightlifting and sprinting. These are high-intensity activities carried out in short bursts where the body’s requirement for oxygen exceeds oxygen supply.
  • Flexibility exercise: These are movements that keep muscles and joints in good working order, like stretching and yoga.
  • Balance and strength exercises: These mostly involve muscle-building activities and core-strengthening exercises.

The Benefits of Exercise

  • Regular physical activity helps to maintain a healthy weight by increasing the rate of metabolism and burning excess fat and calories.
  • Exercise helps in improving cardiovascular health by strengthening the heart muscles, lowering blood pressure, and improving blood circulation.
  • It can help to improve mental health by relieving stress, improving mood, and reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety.
  • Regular exercise boosts the immune system, paving the way for a better defence mechanism against illnesses and infections.
  • Exercise enhances strength and endurance, resulting in increased muscle power and improved stamina.

The Risks of Inactivity

  • Lack of physical activity is associated with increased risk of various health conditions like cardiovascular diseases, obesity, type 2 diabetes and osteoporosis.
  • It can also lead to mental health issues, such as increased feelings of anxiety and depression
  • Chronic inactivity can result in muscular and skeletal issues, such as muscle atrophy and a higher risk of fractures due to decreased bone density.

Health Monitoring

  • Heart rate, blood pressure, Body Mass Index (BMI) and waist-to-hip ratio are some metrics commonly used to evaluate health and fitness level.
  • Aerobic fitness can be estimated by measuring VO2 max, the maximum amount of oxygen a person can utilise during maximum exercise.
  • The Cooper 12-minute run test, where the distance run in 12 minutes is recorded, is another common test to assess fitness.